Defending the Fleet From China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: Naval Deception’s Roles in Sea-Based Missile Defense

June 4, 2011

Jonathan F. Solomon, Defending the Fleet From China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: Naval Deception’s Roles in Sea-Based Missile Defense, Georgetown University M.A. thesis, April 15, 2011.

Abstract:

This thesis project tests the hypothesis that U.S. Navy active missile defenses’ utility against China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) reconnaissance-strike system can be significantly increased when paired with emerging Electronic Warfare (EW) technologies and novel tactical deception concepts. Qualitative open source-based technical, tactical, and doctrinal analyses of China’s ocean surveillance, reconnaissance, and ASBM strike systems are conducted to outline their likely capabilities and limitations. Qualitative process-tracing is next used within a historical case study of how the U.S. Navy employed EW and tactical deception during the Cold War to defend aircraft carrier battle groups against Soviet ocean surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike systems. The case study’s data and conclusions are then used to qualitatively infer the ASBM concept’s inherent technical, tactical, and doctrinal vulnerabilities. Following this, emerging EW technologies are identified that have the theoretical potential to exploit Chinese radars, electro-optical and infrared sensors, radiofrequency direction-finding/Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) systems, satellite communication networks, and decision-making systems. EW’s theoretical influence on a naval surface force’s active missile defenses’ effectiveness against ASBMs is also qualitatively assessed. The case study’s conclusions and the analysis of emerging EW technologies are additionally used to derive potential U.S. Navy tactical deception concepts as well as recognize the prerequisites for their effective use. Lastly, EW and tactical deception’s implications for U.S. maritime strategy and conventional deterrence against Chinese aggression in East Asia are assessed.

The Hainan Island Incident, Ten Years Later

April 1, 2011
The US Navy EP-3 that landed on Hainan Island ...

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Hard to believe, but today is the 10th anniversary of the 2001 incident in which a U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft operating above the waters of the South China Sea was struck by a People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) interceptor jet. The U.S. pilot, Shane Osborn (who has gone on to be a successful politician in Nebraska), managed to keep the crippled plane in the air while the crew members hastily tried to destroy as much of the payload as possible – classified equipment and materials related to the aircraft’s surveillance mission. Unfortunately, due to the in extremis situation, the crew was only able to partially complete this task before an emergency landing was made at an airfield on Hainan Island. The crew was taken into custody and the aircraft seized.

The PRC lost the jet pilot who ran into the EP-3, but in the long run they gained a lot more. Writing in the November 1, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh detailed the take:

The plane carried twenty-four officers and enlisted men and women attached to the Naval Security Group Command, a field component of the National Security Agency. They were repatriated after eleven days; the plane stayed behind. The Pentagon told the press that the crew had followed its protocol, which called for the use of a fire axe, and even hot coffee, to disable the plane’s equipment and software. These included an operating system created and controlled by the N.S.A., and the drivers needed to monitor encrypted Chinese radar, voice, and electronic communications. It was more than two years before the Navy acknowledged that things had not gone so well. “Compromise by the People’s Republic of China of undestroyed classified material . . . is highly probable and cannot be ruled out,” a Navy report issued in September, 2003, said.

The Navy’s experts didn’t believe that China was capable of reverse-engineering the plane’s N.S.A.-supplied operating system, estimated at between thirty and fifty million lines of computer code, according to a former senior intelligence official. Mastering it would give China a road map for decrypting the Navy’s classified intelligence and operational data. “If the operating system was controlling what you’d expect on an intelligence aircraft, it would have a bunch of drivers to capture radar and telemetry,” Whitfield Diffie, a pioneer in the field of encryption, said. “The plane was configured for what it wants to snoop, and the Chinese would want to know what we wanted to know about them—what we could intercept and they could not.” And over the next few years the U.S. intelligence community began to “read the tells” that China had access to sensitive traffic.

The U.S. realized the extent of its exposure only in late 2008. A few weeks after Barack Obama’s election, the Chinese began flooding a group of communications links known to be monitored by the N.S.A. with a barrage of intercepts, two Bush Administration national-security officials and the former senior intelligence official told me. The intercepts included details of planned American naval movements. The Chinese were apparently showing the U.S. their hand. (“The N.S.A. would ask, ‘Can the Chinese be that good?’ ” the former official told me. “My response was that they only invented gunpowder in the tenth century and built the bomb in 1965. I’d say, ‘Can you read Chinese?’ We don’t even know the Chinese pictograph for ‘Happy hour.’ ”)

This incident can be considered as the opening event in a series of clashes that have marked increased tensions between the U.S. and the PRC in the South China Sea. In the next instance of conflict between the two nations, in 2009 an unarmed U.S. ocean surveillance vessel manned by civilians ran into trouble in about the same area of the South China Sea. Chinese vessels harassed the ship and nearly rammed it, while at the same time attempting to snag its towed sonar array. Since then, direct U.S.-China confrontation has been supplanted by amplified pressure between China and other countries surrounding the South China Sea, many of whom have competing claims to land features and territories in the sea such as the Spratly Islands. These tensions came to a head at the 2010 ASEAN Regional Forum, where U.S. Secretary of State Clinton declared, as a counter to resurgent PRC claims of the South China Sea as a “core interest”, that the U.S. had “a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime commons, and respect for international law in the South China Sea.”

The final chapter in this dispute has yet to be written.

H/T Cheng-yi Lin

To read more about the Hainan Island Incident, see Shirley A. Kan, et al., China-U.S. Aircraft Collision Incident of April 2001: Assessments and Policy Implications, CRS Report to Congress, October 10, 2001.

China explosion! (not really)

March 31, 2011

There’s been an avalanche of interesting things to read about China – what’s a “China hand” to do?

China’s National Defense in 2010, Information Office of the State Council, People’s Republic of China, March 2011

U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine – April 2011, Focus on China. A few of the main features are subscriber-only material, but there are also several articles that look very interesting available for free, such as:

A Step Too Far: Why CPGS Is The Wrong Answer to China’s Anti-Access Challenge (PDF), East-West Center Asia-Pacific Bulletin No. 102, March 24, 2011, by Iskander Rehman

Rising Power… To Do What? Evaluating China’s Power in Southeast Asia (PDF), RSIS Working Paper No. 226, March 30, 2011, by Evelyn Goh

I hope that once I’ve had a chance to read through some of this I will have some comments to add. In the meantime, here’s what a few other learned observers have to say:

China Releases National Defense 2010 White Paper – Information Dissemination

Beijing Issues Latest Defense White Paper “China’s National Defense in 2010”: Full Text and Key Excerpts – Andrew Erickson

Patek arrested in Pakistan

March 31, 2011
Wanted -- Umar Patek (aka) Umar Kecil -- Up to...

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The last of the “big two” Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leaders formerly in the Southern Philippines has reportedly been nabbed a bit outside of Southeast Asia:

The officials did not say where or when Umar Patek, a deputy commander of al-Qaida’s Southeast Asian affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah, was detained. But the Philippine army, which has also been hunting him, said he was picked up in Pakistan Jan. 25 alongside a Pakistani associate assumed to have been harboring him.

The arrest of Patek, who has a $1 million American price tag on his head, ends a 10-year international manhunt and is a major achievement in the global fight against al-Qaida and its offshoots. If he cooperates, the 40-year-old militant could give valuable intelligence on the current state of the extremist organization and its hardy affiliates in Southeast Asia.

As I wrote some time ago, Umar Patek and Dulmatin were the main guys we were looking for during my time with the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P). Looks like this is further confirmation of the marginalization of JI and their Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) allies in the Southern Philippines.

On Patek, see also:

H/T: cmjack3

For more on JSOTF-P, USA Today recently ran a nice piece on the mission there. I recommend watching the approximately 5-minute video you can find with the story for a good overview of what JSOTF-P is all about.

And finally, Small Wars Journal with a bunch of good linkage on JSOTF-P. (You can also find the video I mentioned above there.)

Links of Interest 03/29/2011

March 27, 2011
P.R.of China PLA Navy emblem

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  • tags: China naval_power military_modernization FC

    • China is deploying new submarines at an impressive rate — three a year. They are suited to pushing back U.S. power projection in the Western Pacific. China’s much-discussed ballistic and cruise missiles also seem designed to keep U.S. surface forces far from China’s soil. And China seems increasingly inclined to define the oceans off its shores as extensions of the shores — territory to be owned and controlled like “blue national soil.” This concept is incompatible with the idea of the oceans as a “common.”
  • tags: FC China space militarization jamestown

    • In all, according to Chinese analysts, as a result of the actions of the world’s major space powers, space war is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Indeed, they argue that it is already more a reality than a myth. Consequently, they conclude that China must be prepared not only to degrade an adversary’s ability to use space, but also to protect its own space capabilities. Chinese writings suggest that Beijing would consider doing so through a combination of defensive measures and deterrence.
  • tags: FC China Taiwan US

    • What all of this indicates is that it is just as easy to envision a Chinese takeover of Taiwan making security concerns worse as it is to imagine such a takeover making the security environment better. Indeed, PRC control of Taiwan could very easily further serve to escalate any future conflict elsewhere. The psychological effects on US allies and security partners of a US retreat or abandonment has already been explored at length elsewhere and will not be repeated here. What I propose instead is that analysts miss the fact that a PRC takeover of Taiwan would give the Chinese the “central position” in the Asia-Pacific.
  • Looks like a very interesting book.

    tags: nuclear FC

    • Rosenbaum, a columnist for Slate Magazine and the author of several well-received books, including Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars, has explored the danger of nuclear weapons since the late 1970s, when he published a major piece in Harper’s on nuclear command and control and weapons and the problem of “moral choice” raised by the existence of nuclear war plans like the SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan). In this new and highly original book, Rosenbaum revisits these issues in an extended meditation on the risks of nuclear catastrophe in the 21st century world. By looking at the careers of key individuals such as Bruce Blair, Colonel Valery Yarnich, and Harold Hering, the challenges posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israel’s nuclear arsenal, and why the post-war system of deterrence could break down, Rosenbaum shows why nuclear peril did not go away when the Cold War ended.
  • tags: FC China US Taiwan

    • George Washington University professor Charles Glaser wrote in the recent issue of Foreign Affairs that, because a crisis over Taiwan can easily escalate to a war, the US should consider making concessions to China, backing away from its commitment to Taiwan. His views may be questioned on several bases:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 03/26/2011

March 26, 2011
SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 6, 2010) Marine amphibiou...

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  • tags: FC China thesis

    • The CASS Asia-Pacific Blue Paper underscored the challenges facing China’s peripheral environment in terms of four types of external trends and threats.  According to the report: First, the “return” of the United States to Asia has made China less appealing to some of its neighbors, through tapping some long existing disputes and incidental security accidents.  Second, instability in Northeast Asia (i.e. North Korea) has become the most serious security challenge to China’s peripheral defense, particularly because of the Cheonon incident and Yeonpyeong artillery shelling.  Third, maritime disputes have become an important source of security tension along China’s periphery.  Fourth, some non-traditional security issues—water security in particular—have affected China’s stability and its regime security, and China’s relations with some neighbors (World Journal, January 13).
    • China’s security environment is increasingly challenged by the United States in that the latter has taken the opportunity presented by regional tensions to shore up its alliance with both South Korea and Japan, as well as through trilateral defense coordination.  If the United States’ “return” to East Asia has not been enough, Washington is also apparently revamping its relations with some Southeast Asian countries and urging these nations to hedge against China’s rise.  In July 2010, Secretary of State Clinton openly challenged China’s position on the South China Sea in her address to the 17th ARF Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi, which was bluntly rebuffed by her Chinese counterpart.
  • tags: FC China missiles Taiwan US thesis jamestown

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Links of Interest 03/25/2011

March 25, 2011
  • tags: soft_power China FC

    • What kind of national image has China sought to project to the world through its cultural diplomacy that distinguishes it against other Asian nations?

      I’m not sure China is trying to portray itself against other Asian nations, but I think it has used its soft power to boost its image compared to its own image of the past—its image in the 1970s and 80s and early 90s—as either disinterested in regional affairs or difficult and aggressive to deal with. Also, I think China has utilized its soft power and cultural diplomacy to try to create the idea, at least regionally, that it’s truly a good neighbour—that it shares values and heritage with its neighbours—and that the United States, in contrast, doesn’t.

  • tags: guam buildup FC USMC V-22

    • The Navy is looking for eight MV-22 Block C Containerized Flight Training Devices to be delivered starting in 2013, with the last two being installed on Guam in 2015, the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division said. Containerized Flight Training Devices are self-contained units, which house a non-motion simulator, a host computer, a visual display system, and an instructor operating station.

      The Navy, which is preparing for the transfer of 8,600 Marines, their family and support staff from Okinawa to Guam as early as 2016, said the first delivery of the CFTD’s will be to the capitol region in April, 2013.

  • tags: China internet censorship activism FC

    • The question for U.S. policymakers is how to manage these different views of cyberspace. There is going to be no silver bullet solution. There are economic disputes such as access to the Chinese market and competing technological standards. There is the espionage issue. There are the human rights and access to information issues. And there is the cyber war problem: how states might use computer network attacks in a conflict.
  • tags: us carrier Japan FC

    • THE aircraft carrier USS George Washington was moved this week from its Japanese port to avoid a potentially costly and complex clean-up to remove traces of radiation, the US Navy revealed.
  • tags: US China maritime navy book FC

    • Three members of the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) collaborated on a recently released book titled, “China, the United States, and 21st-Century Sea Power,” which explores areas of mutual maritime interest between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
  • tags: taiwan US FC

    • Former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will lead a delegation to Taiwan on Sunday for a four-day visit.
    • The delegation will meet with President Ma Ying-jeou and other high ranking officials. They will discuss US-Taiwan relations and cross-strait issues.
    • Armitage will be joined by a group of former US foreign policy and security officials on the four-day visit. The delegation will include former state department officials such as former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Randall Schriver.
  • tags: FC guam buildup

    • Yesterday, Naval Facilities Marianas released a statement detailing some of the projects, which amount to about $1 billion in total cost. Projects can now be awarded to contractors, who can begin designing or building complexes that Marines will use when they relocate from Okinawa to Guam in coming years.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Send in the Marines

March 15, 2011

I mentioned yesterday that Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked on the Essex Amphibious Ready Group would be part of U.S. forces responding to the disaster in Japan. Today I learned about what the rest of the Marines stationed in Japan will be doing to help. It mainly consists of repositioning rotary wing aircraft and cargo planes from Okinawa and Southern Japan to bases and locations closer to the disaster site. But it also involves the use of the High Speed Vessel (HSV), a catamaran hull ship operated by contractors and used to ferry Marines and gear around the theater. (I’ve never been aboard the HSV, but those that have had the pleasure of going for a ride no-so-affectionately refer to it as “the vomit comet”.)

From the press release:

Today, III MEF personnel and gear departed the Naha Military Port at 9 a.m. on the High Speed Vessel in route to mainland Japan. The HSV will deliver a Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) for use in the assistance operations. A FARP is a temporary facility normally located close to the area of operations that allows aircraft to conduct continuous operations without having to return to an established airport to obtain fuel. This capability enables helicopters to fly rescue and transport missions almost non-stop.

The HSV is also transporting additional supplies, communications equipment and personnel that will be used in the relief operations. The FARP and other supplies will arrive at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni for further transportion to the identified FARP location.

Eight CH-46E transport helicopters of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, MAG-36, 1st MAW, III MEF normally located at MCAS Futenma are now positioned at NAS Atsugi and available to conduct relief operations. The mission of the Marine Corps rotary wing aircraft in support of relief operations is survey, recovery and humanitarian assistance support.

Humanitarian assistance survey teams are in place and ready to begin assessing the damaged area and assisting the Government of Japan with providing accurate information to disaster relief planners, both military and civilian. The HASTs are capable of distributing supplies and providing basic medical care for those in immediate need of aid.

Read it all here. Check out all the slides here.

Conant to return to USPACOM

March 15, 2011

I just caught this news while trolling DoD news releases, even though it has been out on the street for almost a month. Major General Thomas L. Conant, USMC, currently Commanding General, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing in California, has been nominated to be the deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command, the U.S. combatant command for this neck of the woods. This is fantastic news, for General Conant has been at PACOM before (as the Director of Strategic Policy Planning [J5]) and is well-versed in the significant issues of the region. Plus, from a service point of view, it gives us (Marines) one more highly-placed general officer in the various regional and functional commands. (Last time I posted on this topic, we were taking the deputy spot at U.S. Cyber Command.)

“A disaster of absolutely historic proportions”

March 14, 2011

You’d have to have been living under a rock not to have heard about the massive earthquake (they’re giving it a 9.0 magnitude now), then tsunami, now nuclear disaster of unclear proportions that struck Japan starting on Saturday, March 12. It seems almost like the “perfect storm” of calamities is unfolding –  a national security strategist’s worst nightmare. The most surreal part of it all is that it took place in the middle of the day and that people around the world were able to watch the destruction unfold live on television and online.

For its part, the U.S. Navy has kicked its deployments in the region into high gear in order to provide as much humanitarian assistance / disaster relief (HA/DR) as possible, as soon as possible. At least eight warships have been dispatched to the area to render assistance, with more to follow. And it’s not just the Navy pitching it – the Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, from Okinawa, Japan, are embarked on the USS Essex (LHD-2) and related ships of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and are also on the way after a brief stop in Malaysia. Already there has been a nuclear issue, with personnel from the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) being irradiated to an as yet-to-be-determined degree after the ship steamed through the nuclear fallout cloud emanating from the damaged nuclear reactor at Fukushima. Some people believe that the nuclear crisis we are witnessing in Japan will be the death knell of the resurgence of nuclear power in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Michael Turton over at The View From Taiwan muses about a similar disaster striking Taiwan. From what he says, it leaves one with the distinct suspicion that the regime that brought you the botched handling of Typhoon Morakot in 2009 would not be making the strong showing that the Naoto Kan government in Tokyo is (though he also emphasizes that it is not simply a Ma Ying-jeou issue or a KMT issue).

Finally, the best bunch of photos of the destruction in Japan I have yet seen are here at the Atlantic’s In Focus blog – truly worth looking at. Amazing, terrifying stuff.


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