Thursday, May 18, 2017

I'm No Rocket Analyst, But I'm Calling Bullshit On This

No, this is not what would happen if North Korea launched a nuclear attack:

Speaking to the Associated Press about what would happen in the event of a nuclear strike from the North, scientist David Wright, of the UCS Global Security Program, and rocket analyst Markus Schiller, of ST Analytics in Germany, described how the drama would unfold.

“The timelines are short,” Wright explained. “Even for long-range missiles, there are a lot of steps that go into detecting the launch and figuring out what it is, leaving the president with maybe 10 minutes to decide whether to launch a retaliatory strike.” [emphasis added]

That statement is purely stupid. Why I don't drink more I have no idea.

America has a large and varied nuclear arsenal that includes the basic triad of land-based, submarine-based, and aircraft-carried strategic bombers. Plus we have a lot of tactical aircraft that can carry smaller nuclear weapons.

In what alternate world of stupid scientists pretending to offer analysis does North Korea's small arsenal pose such a threat to America's retaliatory capability that we are reduced to a "launch on warning" status of our nuclear weapons?

Because that's what the author is basically saying by asserting Trump would have 10 minutes to order a nuclear retaliatory strike. If 11 minutes pass without the order being given, the author apparently believes America's entire nuclear arsenal is gone, victim of a North Korean counter-force strike.

So here's how your host, an analyst of stupid with a MA in history sitting in his figurative pajamas in Ann Arbor, says a North Korean nuclear strike would unfold.

North Korea launches missiles. They impact on American soil--or don't if missile defenses work--and whether or not our missile defenses work, we ride out the assault with the loss of approximately 0.0% of our nuclear arsenal, and then we figure out what kind of retaliatory strike we need to order.

We would likely use nuclear gravity bombs to avoid any chance of a mishap with a nuclear missile going off course and hitting nearby China or Russia.

I think it would involve a nominal nuclear retaliation (to preserve deterrence--who would worry about us if we fail to respond to a nuclear attack with nukes?) against selected North Korean military targets (and we'd warn them so they could evacuate or run from the site); while the bulk of our retaliation would be a conventional campaign that strikes every leadership, missile, aircraft, ship, sub, artillery, chemical, biological, and nuclear target we can find in North Korea.

Ten minutes to order retaliation, indeed. Where do these "experts" come from?

UPDATE: Let me note that it could be that the reporter is the one that screwed up perfectly reasonable statements in the context given. I shouldn't be so quick to assume the reporting is fully accurate.