A Los Angeles woman, traveling by air the day before Thanksgiving, did not want radiation from an airport full-body scanner; she also did not want TSA goons to grope her. So she wore a revealing bikini and avoided both radiation and groping. The Obama White House is not nearly so clever. China groped the missile defenses of our homeland and President Obama said and did nothing. No one noticed. Well, almost no one.
On November 8th, a KCBS-TV news helicopter filmed a missile launched a few miles off the California coast! The video shows a smoke plume rising from the ocean just north of Catalina Island, well inside US territorial waters, heading west over the Pacific Ocean. No one has claimed the mystery missile. No one has said why or how it was done. So let us examine some facts and make a reasonable guess.
Experts agree the missile was large, as big as an intercontinental ballistic missile — an ICBM. It is not possible for an amateur rocket club to launch such a rocket from Catalina Island without being seen. No ships were on the surface. No rockets were launched from American bases in California. The U.S. Navy says none of our subs did it. And if you insist the plume is an aircraft contrail, remember there were no airliners in the area at the exact time and place.
An accidental launch? In reality, unlike in Hollywood, there is no “red button” that launches an ICBM. Two keys must be simultaneously turned, and several other steps taken, before the missile can be fired. A secret test? The Pentagon denies it. And besides, aviators and sailors are always warned of the time, path, and impact point of rockets that might endanger them. All nations make such announcements well in advance.
Could the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), our global ICBM monitoring system, have detected the launch of an ICBM so extremely close to our coast?
NORAD has made no public statement, but retired Air Force Brigadier Jim Cash posted a comment on the Catalina Island launch. General Cash was a command director and the assistant director of operations for NORAD. He states the NORAD system is manned by 150 highly trained people 24/7, and can detect a missile shot “from any point on the globe.” If the missile looks threatening, the president is immediately notified by the officer always near him who carries the “football,” a brief case containing the launch codes for our nuclear forces.
Brigadier Cash states that “there is absolutely no doubt” the video shows a missile launch near California, that it would have been detected by NORAD, and that the president was told about it. A subsequent decision to notify the public could only be made by the president. Nothing was said. Why?
The plume shown in the video was likely from an ICBM launched from a Chinese Type 092 Jin-class ballistic missile submarine. (Russian subs can also fire such missiles, but Moscow is panting for the Senate to ratify the START treaty, so why risk scaring the senators?)
Did our anti-submarine warfare (ASW) systems know the Jin was there? Was it tracked across the Pacific? No, the old SOSUS hydrophones are no longer manned and maintained by Navy ASW experts. The SOSUS sound arrays that have not been destroyed are now sometimes used by scientists to track whales. So Defense Secretary Robert Gates simply could not know a Chinese submarine was in U.S. waters — or if it is still there.
The ballistic missile the Jin launched was probably a JP-2 Giant Wave, China’s latest. It is thought to have multiple warheads and a range of 5,000 miles. Leaping out of the ocean near Catalina, it traveled northwest and was destroyed in flight over the Pacific. Or it fell into the far western Pacific or a missile range inside China.
Why would the Peoples Republic of China do such a thing? Two reasons come to mind.
First, the Chinese government has made serious objections to U.S. warships in the South China Sea, international waters China claims are its own. What could drive the point home better than a Chinese warship in American waters? Senior Chinese officers also make blunt threats now, like Colonel Meng Xianging who promised a “hand to hand fight with the US” within ten years, “when we are strong enough.” And Major General Yang Yi, who said, “We must make them hurt.” He meant the United States.
Second, the missile launch took place just before President Obama was to meet with his Chinese counterpart in Seoul. He would have known about it as he shook hands with the chief Chinese communist.
China groped us. And if President Obama still does not understand what else the Chinese promise to do, he should look at the faces of sailors he reviewed in Beijing. They clearly intend to grope us. Again.
Chet Nagle is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of IRAN COVENANT.