During my career, I was the technology administrator for air to air and air to surface weapons for the Naval Air Systems Command. My client was the Naval Weapons Center in China Lake, Ca whose primary technology initiatives involved missiles. Over the years, I managed to introduce kinetic kill and directed energy weapons, non-lethal weapons, and asymmetric warfare ideas into the missile mix. What most people don’t appreciate is the time it takes for weapons to get from the idea stage to the practical use stage – design, development, demonstration, multiple prototypes, acquisition, special support equipment, documentation, train users and then place a reliable and effective weapons systems into military use takes a number of decades.
Before Jimmy Carter became president, he was Rickover nuclear submarine and Navy team member. He became steeped in technology and its many nuances. When he became President, he was confronted with the growing cost of the military and the competing costs of domestic need. He came up with the idea that military size and costs could be cut without sacrificing the military’s operational advantages by turning to the technology base. The concept introduced in military policy was known as the “Fielded Technology Advantage”, and it was intended to ensure American military operational superiority in an engagement with any enemy.
President Reagan took the technology advantage part of the argument and initiated the Strategic Defense Initiative Office aptly named Star Wars. Although chided by Democrats as a waste of money (Note any similarity today with Trump?), Reagan got his initiative and the results were spectacular. Scientists from universities, businesses, and government laboratories showed up. Inventors by the hundreds walked through the Star Wars doors. Thousands upon thousands of ideas eventually lead to hundreds of thousands on new business ventures and tens of millions of Americans being employed. The Soviet Union, realizing it could not compete, dissolved its tyranny and freed millions of people and their nations from behind the Iron Curtain.
There really isn’t much to say about President George H.W. Bush. He squandered both the Reagan legacy and his overwhelming political support coming out of the Gulf War by repudiating his “no new taxes” pledge. President Clinton won election with the slogan “It’s the Economy, Stupid”.
To make good on that slogan, Clinton opened up the American technology basket to the world. He put the Department of Commerce in charge of technology marketing decisions and required the DOD to comply with the policy change. Thus, the technologies that had been so carefully and jealously guarded were suddenly exposed to the markets of the world. Many technology administrators fought the change, but it proved frustrating and unproductive. Some technology administrators retired and some changed jobs, some tried to sabotage the transfers or the sales. Many refused to comply or delayed indefinitely information requested by the Department of Commerce. Probably the worst of it was the insult forced on a technology administrator who didn’t want a technology placed into the world market. He or she would have to fill out a 20 to 30-page rebuttal. This was onerous and often didn’t arrive in time to stop a sale. It was a turbulent time to say the least.
The Chinese were particularly interested in missile guidance and control technology. When they fired their missiles, the missile went in all kinds of directions. Thanks to American technology, the Chinese gang that couldn’t shot straight suddenly became the gang that couldn’t miss. Thus, this element of American technological superiority was compromised.
The Chinese do have a Pit Bull on a leash, its name is Kim Jong Un and he lives in a rather ratty backyard in an absurdly lavish doghouse. Over the years, the Kim family steadily appropriated the Chinese (American) missile technology, and under Kim Jong Un they have perfected it to the point where it can fire missiles at Hawaii and the continental United States. Their work on a nuclear warhead, or maybe a biological warhead, for said missile is also underway.
What is the bottom line: Clinton sold the technology to China. George W. Bush was too busy fighting the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to pay attention to North Korea. Obama was too busy with his open borders, multicultural, Obamacare welfare state ideology to pay attention to North Korea even when his intelligence organizations point out the North Korea was likely selling missile and nuclear technology to Iran.
Trump has had to come up with a strategy to deal with the North Korea problem. Unlike his last four predecessors who did virtually nothing or even created the problem, he has to stop a threatened major nuclear attack on the USA or its allies. So far, tough talk backed up by a massive buildup of American might appears to be having some positive impact. However, while Winter Olympic talks of a unified North and South Korean team are underway, North Korea continues to prepare its sites for what could be another missile test or even the real thing. Maybe the accidental Hawaiian missile alert warning has been useful if for nothing else than to create a sense of how serious this situation is.