U.S. Strategy to Hobble North Korea Was Hidden in Plain Sight
Washington usually cloaks its most critical defense programs in secrecy.
But in the case of using cyberstrikes, electronic warfare and other exotic forms of sabotage to redefine antimissile defense for the United States, many high-ranking officials and officers have been talking openly, often to persuade Congress to fund the secretive efforts.
The public conversation about the new antimissile approach, known as “left of launch,” has been careful. Typically, military leaders and contractors have spoken vaguely about technologies and targets. But at moments they have also declared that it is all about North Korea and Iran, at least for now.
The idea is to strike an enemy missile before liftoff or during the first seconds of flight. The old approach waited until much later — after swarms of warheads had been released, had traveled thousands of miles and were racing toward targets at speeds in excess of four miles a second.
Officials have praised left-of-launch strikes as a novel way of knocking out enemy missiles at a tiny fraction of the usual cost. In presentations and congressional testimony, senior officials have described the method as a potentially revolutionary way to strengthen the defenses of the United States.
The public unveiling began in late 2013 when Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, warned of falling budgets and rising missile threats. That dilemma, he wrote in a policy guidance document for American troops, called for the development of unconventional defenses that would be far cheaper than traditional rocket interceptors.
公开的披露始于2013年末，当时美国级别最高的将领、参谋长联席会议(Joint Chiefs of Staff)主席马丁·E·邓普西上将(Gen. Martin E. Dempsey)发出警告，表示预算在不断减少，导弹威胁却日益增大。他在给美国军队提供的政策指导文件中写道，为解决这种困境，美国需要发展成本会比传统导弹拦截装备低很多的非常规防御方式。
In 2014, Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told the Atlantic Council that left-of-launch strikes would, by definition, remain a novel adjunct to wider antimissile efforts.
2014年，参谋长联席会议副主席、海军上将小詹姆斯·A·温内费尔德(Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr.)告诉大西洋理事会(Atlantic Council)，就其定义而言，“主动抑制发射”袭击依然只是更广泛的反导弹措施的一种新式辅助手段。
“While we would still obviously prefer to take a threat missile out while it’s still on the ground,” he said, “we won’t always have the luxury of doing so.” The result, he added, would be the continuing need for “solid right-of-launch capability” — in other words, the traditional methods.
In 2015, top antimissile experts gathered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. Archer M. Macy Jr., a retired Navy rear admiral, said the Defense Department was developing ways not only of preventing successful missile launches but of interfering in their flights and navigation.
2015年，多名顶级反导弹专家在华盛顿智库机构国际战略研究中心(Center for Strategic and International Studies)聚集一堂。退役海军少将小阿彻·M·梅西(Archer M. Macy Jr.)表示，国防部不仅在研发能防止导弹成功发射的办法，也在研发干涉导弹飞行与导航的办法。
Kenneth E. Todorov, a retired Air Force brigadier general, raised the question of how to authorize what would amount to pre-emptive war — of attacking first to gain a strategic advantage. “Are we, as a military and a nation,” he asked, prepared to “go after potential targets in advance?” No consensus emerged.
退役空军准将肯尼思·E·托多罗夫(Kenneth E. Todorov)提出了一个问题，即如何批准相当于先发制人发起战争的行动——首先发起袭击以获得战略优势。“作为一支军队和一个国家，”他问道，我们准备好“在对方行动之前打击潜在目标了吗？”现场没有达成共识。
Raytheon, the nation’s top antimissile contractor, went wide rather than deep. In a conference presentation, it disclosed that the new developments included not just cyber and electronic strikes but the targeting of enemy factories, hinting at industrial sabotage. The glossy presentation included a lineup of “sophisticated adversaries,” including Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.
Last year, the Pentagon’s budget request for 2017 said an antimissile program known as Nimble Fire had advanced General Dempsey’s goals by exploring “electronic attack” and “offensive cyber operations.” The details, it said, were classified secret.
In April, a number of budget hearings in the House and Senate focused on left-of-launch programs. Some of the most revealing testimony came before Senator Jeff Sessions, then chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee and now attorney general.
去年4月，参众两院举行的诸多预算听证会里有不少聚焦于“主动抑制发射”项目。一些信息量最大的证词是在参议员杰夫·塞申斯(Jeff Sessions)面前做出。他当时担任参议院军事委员会(Senate Armed Services Committee)战略部队小组委员会主席，现为司法部长。
Vice Adm. James D. Syring of the Navy, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, described left-of-launch strikes and other unorthodox approaches as “game changing” because they reduced the need to “rely exclusively on expensive interceptors.”
五角大楼导弹防御局(Missile Defense Agency)局长、海军中将詹姆士·D·叙林(James D. Syring)称，“主动抑制发射”及其他非常规方式会“改变游戏规则”，因为它们减少了“单独依赖昂贵拦截设备”的需求。
Brian P. McKeon, then the Pentagon’s under secretary of defense for policy, said the Defense Department sought new and old antimissile arms “to deal with the threat of missiles from either North Korea or Iran.” Of all the nations that might threaten the United States, he noted in his testimony, those two countries “are driving our investments.”
时任国防部负责政策事务的副部长的布赖恩·P·麦基翁(Brian P. McKeon)表示，“为应对来自朝鲜或伊朗的威胁”，国防部尝试同时发展新旧两种反导弹武器。他在作证时指出，在所有可能会威胁到美国的国家中，这两个国家“在促使我们进行投资”。
At a House hearing, Adm. William E. Gortney, then head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which has the responsibility for firing the nation’s antimissile weapons in time of war, was asked what Congress should do “to ensure our military forces” can execute left-of-launch strikes.
在众议院举行的一场听证会上，时任北美防空司令部(North American Aerospace Defense Command)指挥官的海军上将威廉‧E‧戈特尼(Adm. William E. Gortney)被问到，“为保证我们的军事力量”能实现“主动抑制发射”袭击，国会应该做些什么。北美防空司令部负责在战时发射美国的反导弹武器。
Admiral Gortney said that in the committee’s secret session he could discuss the development of classified technologies where “investments are absolutely critical.”