Obama left best missile radar tied to the dock during NoKo missile launch

posted at 12:18 pm on April 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

How does one make the argument that missile-defense systems are unproven?  Don’t allow it to get tested.  Despite having plenty of lead time to the North Korean missile launch, the Obama administration refused to permit the US Navy to deploy its most sophisticated missile-tracking radar during the launch.  The reason?  It might have annoyed Kim Jong-Il:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates denied permission for the U.S. Northern Command to use the Pentagon’s most powerful sea-based radar to monitor North Korea’s recent missile launch, precluding officials from collecting finely detailed launch data or testing the radar in a real-time crisis, current and former defense officials said. …

SBX, deployed in 2005, can track and identify warheads, decoys and debris in space with very high precision. Officials said the radar is so powerful it could detect a baseball hit out of a ballpark from more than 3,000 miles away, and that other radars used by the U.S. would not be able to provide the same level of detail about North Korea’s missile capabilities.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, who until recently headed the Missile Defense Agency, said the SBX would have gathered data other U.S. systems could not.

“The sea-based X-band radar is clearly without a doubt the most powerful and capable sensor in all of our missile defense inventory,” he said. “It is three or four more times powerful than other radars” in Asia, including Aegis-equipped ships, a Cobra Dane early warning radar in Alaska and a small X-band radar in northern Japan, he said.

Bill Gertz reports exclusively for the Washington Times that Barack Obama’s civilian policymakers rejected the notion that the Taepodong-2 was anything other than a satellite launch.  They did not want to provoke Kim by hauling out the SBX, shown on the front page lashed to the dock behind the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor.  Bear in mind that any launch of a long-range missile by Pyongyang violates UN Security Council resolution 1718, which the Obama administration belatedly referenced in their push back against launch, days after it happened.  Satellites or not, Kim is supposedly constrained from launching Taepodong-2s in a resolution the US supported at its adoption, and for which Obama and Susan Rice demonstrated support after the launch.

Why were we so concerned about Kim’s feelings anyway?  We objected to the launch before and after it happened.  We also have every right to tow the SBX out to international waters for testing.  If we had done so, we could have gotten better intel on a hostile action while testing a new system under real-world conditions.  That’s a no-brainer in every world but Foggy Bottom and, apparently, the West Wing.

McKittrick at Closing Velocity calls this an “effin’ brilliant” strategy:

So using the SBX to simply observe a very provocative missile launch was itself deemed too damned provocative by Obama? And that it would have derailed disarmament talks? You mean those talks that have utterly fallen apart anyway? …

Brilliant. Effin’ brilliant.

The opportunity to pursue hopeless talks with Kim Jong-Il was more valuable than collecting operationally realistic data and improving our defense against a growing threat. And the Hopes of naive diplomats outweigh urgent requests from military commanders. Change you can believe in.

It doesn’t take much to cow this President into retreat.  Just the mere thought of Kim Jong-Il’s annoyance kept the US from testing an important defense system that wound up sitting in the water while Kim threw his tantrum anyway.  I guess this must be “smart power”.


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B. Hussien Obama just viewed it as another “act of privacy” so he ignored it.

TrickyDick on April 15, 2009 at 1:53 PM

also fyi, the AZ memorial is off by itself near Ford Island in the harbor. tho the pic makes them appear close together; NOTHING is near the memorial; the platform and the active ships at the base are 100s of yards away …

Buckaroo on April 15, 2009 at 1:43 PM

I visit the Arizona every time I am in Oahu. Every Time. A flag that flew over the memorial on 12/12/96 is displayed in our foyer.

Never forget.

juanito on April 15, 2009 at 1:57 PM

also fyi, the AZ memorial is off by itself near Ford Island in the harbor. tho the pic makes them appear close together; NOTHING is near the memorial; the platform and the active ships at the base are 100s of yards away …

Buckaroo on April 15, 2009 at 1:43 PM

You’re right about that photo. It’s deceptive only because the SBX is freaken HUGE! I just saw it this past December.

shick on April 15, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Has anyone not seen the genius of Obama in this?

Look, Kim Il singsong created an international buzz by saying “Looky me…I’m shooting a missile over here!”

But The One fooled him. He didn’t watch, depriving Fearless Leader of his launch satisfaction. (unconfirmed reports from NKorea say FL was so angry at being ignored his hair actually fell down, revealing a large bald spot)

/sarc

Man, you could write a new bible with this history stuff. I suggest at least one chapter be titled “The OPsalma’s”

BobMbx on April 15, 2009 at 2:07 PM

Leadership!!

Affirmative action style.

jukin on April 15, 2009 at 2:07 PM

“So Alaska and Hawaii don’t count? Thanks for that vote!”

It counts to the sensible, but it’s still to abstract for a lot of really ignorant Americans.

thebadoutlaw on April 15, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Obummer can’t afford to provoke Crazy Kim by tracking some lil’ ol’ missile fired over Japan. He’s too busy cracking down on the right-wing fanatics at the Tea Parties.

“What missile?” says the ostrich with its head in the sand.

Steve Z on April 15, 2009 at 2:15 PM

It counts to the sensible, but it’s still to abstract for a lot of really ignorant Americans.

thebadoutlaw on April 15, 2009 at 2:14 PM

I will give you that. But Alaska being a territory and invaded by the Japanese is beyond their scope as well.

upinak on April 15, 2009 at 2:17 PM

I visit the Arizona every time I am in Oahu. Every Time. A flag that flew over the memorial on 12/12/96 is displayed in our foyer.

Never forget.

juanito on April 15, 2009 at 1:57 PM

I just brought my family there this past December. It was a sobering experience for my kids, my wife and myself who for the most part live a sheltered life from real horror. The memory of that visit should stay with them.

We said a prayer together at the site in remorse of the evil of men through war. I believe in the necessity of war but it must be avoided when possible.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

shick on April 15, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Obama feels that if he can’t see it then it didn’t happen and he doesn’t have to address it.

Alden Pyle on April 15, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Obama feels that if he can’t see it then it didn’t happen and he doesn’t have to address it.

Alden Pyle on April 15, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Obama is focused like a laser beam.

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 2:25 PM

That photograph is one for ages. But how many people under age 50 can identify the U.S.S. Arizona memorial from the pic?

oldleprechaun on April 15, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Some of us had theorized that perhaps there was some reason the military didn’t want to monitor this launch with SBX, never, despite all Zero’s previous forays into cowardice, did we imagine that he actually refused a military request to use SBX.

Zero ‘nads.

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 3:01 PM

That photograph is one for ages. But how many people under age 50 can identify the U.S.S. Arizona memorial from the pic?

oldleprechaun on April 15, 2009 at 2:57 PM

I can.

I’ve never been as emotionaly moved by any other memeorial I’ve ever visited.

Scrappy on April 15, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Obama is neither brilliant or articulate. He is, however, breathtakingly incompetent.

n0doz on April 15, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Is it cowardice, incompetence or leftist ideology?

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 3:09 PM

The closest I can come to a charitable explanation would be that the radar in question is so advanced that maybe — maybe – we were hesitant to activate it because it would give others (i.e., Russia and China) an opportunity to learn more about it.

I don’t know that for a fact, but if it’s not the case then the alternative explanation is that we have another donk Appeaser-In-Chief at the controls. God help us all.

Spurius Ligustinus on April 15, 2009 at 3:23 PM

This is what happens when a Socialist, whose only “jobs” have been “organizing communities” and announcing “present” in the Senate, takes over the Oval Office.

OhEssYouCowboys on April 15, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Although it is actually near the Arizona Memorial, the pic tells you all you need to know about what happens when you don’t get early warning about an attack.

Spike72AFA on April 15, 2009 at 3:25 PM

Is it cowardice, incompetence or leftist ideology?

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 3:09 PM

C’est tous la meme, n’est-ce pas?

It’s all the same, isn’t it?

Any one of those three breeds all the others in a person. Hussein exemplifies them all.

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 3:35 PM

The closest I can come to a charitable explanation would be that the radar in question is so advanced that maybe — maybe – we were hesitant to activate it because it would give others (i.e., Russia and China) an opportunity to learn more about it.

Spurius Ligustinus on April 15, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Some of us suggested that days ago, but for that to have been the case the military would have advised Obama not to use it. The fact that Obama refused a military request to use it proves that this isn’t the case. If the military wanted to use it, then just who had the technical competence and military strategic awareness to advise him to act against the military’s wishes? That’s right, no one. Zero acted on the basis of pusillanimous political concerns/fears alone.

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 3:41 PM

F**K OBAMA ..he is a liberal winer…

NRA Lifer on April 15, 2009 at 3:42 PM

I saw reports that officials from Iran were present at the launch. I assumed at the time (as I think many did) that NK was helping Iran with nuclear warheads, but who’s to say that Iran wasn’t there to help NK with the launch? After all, Iran has already put one satellite into orbit.

Also, this really worked out well, didn’t it?

darwin-t on April 15, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Also, this really worked out well, didn’t it?

darwin-t on April 15, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Yeah, that’s about the equivalent of taking the radiator out of a Humvee and claiming you’ve completely demilitarized it. ‘Cuz everyone knows how completely impossible it is to reinstall a radiator…

And yes, the Axis of evil loves their WMD get-togethers.

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Any one of those three breeds all the others in a person. Hussein exemplifies them all.

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 3:35 PM

I don’t think it’s the same.

The administration could compensate for cowardice and incompetence at the top with subordinates who aren’t cowards or idiots. And if they didn’t do that, Americans could see the errors with their own eyes, and lose support for the administration, reducing the administration’s ability to institute its agenda.

But, if all of this is due to his leftist ideology, supported, filtered, and abetted by the dominant leftist media, then it’s much more difficult for average American’s to see what’s going wrong. As a result, it’s easier for them to ram through an extreme leftist agenda, regardless of how incompetent or cowardly the entire administration is.

It’s the second scenario that I see happening. And its consequences are far more dangerous.

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 3:57 PM

The administration could compensate for cowardice and incompetence at the top with subordinates who aren’t cowards or idiots.

Idiots don’t know they are idiots, and cowards in “our” culture fear those that are courageous.

Yes, Leftist ideology breeds the other two, but I do believe that idiots and cowards gravitate towards the first.

And yes, I do believe wholeheartedly that Leftism drives this administration, and that we will suffer greatly for it.

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Hey Lox, check out the Obamateurism thread, I appear to be the current thread-killer with an item I’d like your take on. :)

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Uhm, all of NKs missile tests were targeted towards Hawaii. The NKs missiles only have to “work” once to devastate the USA.

And every failed launch gives the Norks info on how to improve their missile offense. So nice343 can get go live in Hawaii and wait for another failed missile launch for all I care.

Neo on April 15, 2009 at 12:26 PM

Not just Hawai’i-we have a major military presence in the western Pacific on the island of Guam, and numerous military bases on too many small rocks and atolls to coumt.

Del Dolemonte on April 15, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Radar is an unproven technology vulnerable to enemy countermeasures. We shouldn’t waste money on it.

DarkCurrent on April 15, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Thanks for the laugh, kid. I’ll remember that the next time I fly into an airport when the ceiling is only 700 feet.

Del Dolemonte on April 15, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Speaking of missile defense, ground was broken last Friday on Kaua’i at the Barking Sands site, for the new missile defense viewing site, which will allow civilians to watch the action. This will also have a memorial for the Garden Island’s veterans.

Hawai’i senior (Democrat) Senator Dan Inouye, a strong advocate of missile defense, took part in the ceremony.

More here:

http://sev.prnewswire.com/aerospace-defense/20090414/DC9879214042009-1.html

Del Dolemonte on April 15, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Hey Lox, check out the Obamateurism thread, I appear to be the current thread-killer with an item I’d like your take on. :)

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Hé saumon fumé:

I hate it when people make me think. My heads hurts now. Can’t I just eat my waffle?

I’ve posted my response there. Bet I can kill more threads than you can.

In the spirit of revenge, I give you this.

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 6:00 PM

Cuffy, this one’s for you: from my comment on the Headlines thread…

Compare and contrast: Obambi’s refusal to move the X-Band Radar into position to track the NoKo missile, versus fleet movements in this situation back in 1986 (emphasis mine):

Operations near Libya began at the end of January. These evolutions, collectively named “Attain Document”, were carried out between 24 January and 31 January 1986 and between 10 February and 15 February, by surface ships and aircraft. America, with CVW-1 embarked, and her accompanying battle group departed Norfolk on 10 March 1986, and arrived in the Mediterranean in time to participate in the third phase of “Attain Document”, a freedom of navigation (FON) exercise in the Gulf of Sidra.

Late on 23 March, American planes flew south of latitude 32-30 N. – the “Line of Death” proclaimed by Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. On 24 March, Ticonderoga, accompanied by two destroyers, Scott and Caron, moved south of the “Line”, covered by fighter aircraft, at 0600.

A Libyan missile installation near Surt (Sirte) launched two Soviet-made SA-5 “Gammon” surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) at 0752, toward F-14A “Tomcats” of America’s VF-102. Later that afternoon, the installation at Surt (Sirte) fired additional SAMs at American planes, but, like the first pair, went wide of their mark. About 1430, a Libyan missile-equipped Combattante II G-type patrol craft sortied from Misratah, Libya, and approached Ticonderoga and her consorts. Two Grumman A-6E Intruders from America’s Attack Squadron (VA) 34 fired AGM-84 Harpoon missiles at the craft and sank her in the first use of the Harpoon in combat. Shortly afterwards, when American radars detected the Libyan installation at Sirte activating its target acquisition radars, two A-7 Corsairs from Saratoga’s VA-81 put the site out of action with AGM-88 HARMs (high-speed anti-radiation missiles).

Once upon a time, a “rogue dictator” threatened the operation of US Naval assets in international waters.

And once upon a time, a President called the “rogue dictator”’s bluff, and bloodied his nose in return.

But now, we have a pantywaist who wants so badly for outside threats to “just go away and let me eat my waffle” that he’ll suck up to anyone.

Ronald Reagan, we miss you…

Wanderlust on April 15, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Don’t be silly Ed, the X-Band is not intended for America’s enemies. It’s much better utilized to spy on friends these days since they are the only people Obama has the guts to trounce on! It is handy for the US to have one in Israel, forget monitoring Iran, it is much more useful to monitor & spy on Israeli aircraft & launches – you know, to ensure our compliance while America builds its newest alliances with the likes of Iran & NOKO and slowly destroys relations with the USA’s real military allies.

When the damn french react with shock & awe at the levels to which America now intends to appease rogue regimes you know you are in trouble..

saus on April 15, 2009 at 8:01 PM

The North Koreans sawed Obama’s chair down until he’s sitting with his head at about the level of Kim’s fly.

And the worst part about it is that Barack held the chair whilst they sawed.

unclesmrgol on April 15, 2009 at 8:27 PM

I’ll keep saying it: he’s trying to entice our enemies into attacking us.

baldilocks on April 15, 2009 at 8:30 PM

In the spirit of revenge, I give you this.

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 6:00 PM

That did make my head hurt!

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 8:36 PM

I’ll keep saying it: he’s trying to entice our enemies into attacking us.

baldilocks on April 15, 2009 at 8:30 PM

baldilocks, I have been giving this perspective a lot of thought. I don’t believe Obambi is deliberately trying to provoke an attack – that is, any more than Neville Chamberlain deliberately tried to provoke the Germans into attacking Poland.

Instead, I think he’s trying to play a dangerous game, on three fronts:

* He doesn’t believe in the long-standing doctrine of US military strength being required to keep peace in the world (generally). He does seem to believe in endless rounds of talk somehow making the world better, though, a la Chamberlain.

* He needs to shun US hegemony over the world because the more people feel safe and secure, the less they will feel like they need a huge government to “protect” them (this point goes equally towards financial strength, as it does to military strength). Defunding the military and using the money to grow the size of the federal government go hand in hand here.

* But he cannot be seen to be *too* weak, in that his failure to act can be directly attributed to an attack on CONUS during his tenure. So if/when he is challenged, look for him to appease and then respond militarily, albeit weakly, just enough to stave off any threat to CONUS. And if (God forbid) there is an attack during TOTUS’ reign, look for him to blame BOOOOOSH for it.

BillyJeff played a much weaker version of this game during his two terms in office back in the 1990′s, with the major difference being that he took advantage of the collapse of the former USSR and rode on the back of a strong economy to keep himself to be perceived as “above the fray”. For example, try to imagine Obama espousing NAFTA in Clinton’s place, back in 1993. He’d never do it.

This time, though, Obama has raised the stakes on this game by several orders of magnitude, because the Russians are much stronger now than they were in 1993 (thanks to our refusal to drill to meet our own oil needs), and the same for Iran. In 1993, the Khan nuclear bazaar was just getting its legs, whereas now both NoKo and Iran have had years of experience under their belts.

Oh, and don’t forget, both India and Pakistan went nuclear under BillyJeff’s watch. Imagine Iran going nuclear under Obama’s.

And hold onto your butt…

Wanderlust on April 15, 2009 at 9:06 PM

baldilocks on April 15, 2009 at 8:30 PM

I don’t think he’s so ideologically twisted as to risk his own life or his family’s.

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 9:53 PM

Maquis on April 15, 2009 at 8:36 PM

Je suis désolé, si désolé.

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 9:55 PM

Wanderlust on April 15, 2009 at 9:06 PM

Thanks for your analysis. It makes a lot of sense to me.

Obama is indeed a puzzling mixture. I fear the impact his presidency will have on our country and the world.

Fasten you seat belts.

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 10:01 PM

I haven’t read every comment here, but there’s something I don’t understand:

How is it that anyone, from the North Koreans to American reporters, knows anything about this radar system?

Are there no such things as military secrets any more? Does the military no longer have the ability to move forces and weapon systems around the world without it showing up on CNN?

And since when is our Defense Department now afraid of ‘provoking’ a tinhorn dictator like Kim just by monitoring a missile launch? Have we truly become, as Mao once claimed (with false bravado, at the time) “a paper tiger”?

MrLynn on April 15, 2009 at 10:31 PM

Obama doesn’t mind hurting the tax PAYERS‘ feelings.

Mojave Mark on April 15, 2009 at 11:08 PM

Maquis on April 15, 2009

One other thing, and it’s important, so I jope you read this.

I always appreciate the opportunity to have discussions with you. Even when we don’t see, think or feel the same about an issue, you’ve always been patient and a gentleman. Thanks.

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 11:28 PM

I’ve been there-Pearl Harbor-Arizona. Seems like I still hear the cries at times.

SINK THE PIRATES OF THE POTOMAC!

OkieDoc on April 15, 2009 at 11:55 PM

Loxodonta on April 15, 2009 at 11:28 PM

Et vous aussi mon ami.

Maquis on April 16, 2009 at 12:05 AM

How is it that anyone, from the North Koreans to American reporters, knows anything about this radar system?

MrLynn on April 15, 2009 at 10:31 PM

Many programs/weapons systems have a portion that is known to the “white world” (unclassified) while keeping the best parts under wraps, in the “black hole” (classified).

There are many reasons for this, ranging from strategic choices to show some of our poker hand (as it were), to that of political blunders and spycraft. The President has the ability to declassify information “on the spot”, without previous authorization. LBJ did this with the SR-71, when he announced that air vehicle to the world.

Note also that although the existence of the SR-71 was declassified in 1964, certain of its abilities have never been declassified, even though the SR-71 was retired from service in the late 1990′s. For example, although there are all kinds of wild speculation flying through the ether regarding the SR-71′s absolute speed and altitude, neither figure has ever been verified.

When the CV-66 America was scuttled in 2005 (after having its hull and superstructure blown to bits from an exercise designed to test its vulnerability to simulated torpedo, cruise missile, and bomb blasts), the sinking was not shown to the public, and not even reported until six days after the fact, due to concerns that a vid of the scuttling could reveal how the current Nimitz class carriers would react to battle damage.

Personally, I want our enemies to know that SBX can see a baseball at 3,000 miles distance. They know we can watch, whenever we want.

Assuming, of course, we have a POTUS who actually honors the threat…

Wanderlust on April 16, 2009 at 12:42 AM

Hey, grab this
I’ll watch!
SINK THE PIRATES OF THE POTOMAC!

OkieDoc on April 16, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Personally, I want our enemies to know that SBX can see a baseball at 3,000 miles distance. They know we can watch, whenever we want.

Assuming, of course, we have a POTUS who actually honors the threat…

Wanderlust on April 16, 2009 at 12:42 AM

Very well stated. Thanks.

Loxodonta on April 16, 2009 at 2:19 AM

To be fair, President Obama was not aware that N.Korea was doing any missile launches; he was too busy scheduling press time to announce that he was also not aware of any Tea Parties.

BlueCollarAstronaut on April 16, 2009 at 8:57 AM

Wanderlust on April 16, 2009 at 12:42 AM

Thanks, Wanderlust; your explication of the whys and wherefores of what’s revealed and what’s not was logical and coherent.

I guess what I still don’t understand is why we let the North Koreans know we weren’t watching. For fear of “provoking” them? This is timidity run rampant!

And yes, it can be useful to let your enemies know you can see a baseball at three thousand miles, but me, I’d rather err on the side of keeping them guessing, both what we can do, and when we’re going to do it.

Then, I don’t expect that rube in the WH to understand any of this.

MrLynn on April 17, 2009 at 12:02 AM

Earl Pitts

ricelchew on April 18, 2009 at 11:14 PM

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