How the Beast of the Sea Failed: Revelation 13:1

The roots of America’s defeat

The foundations of failure were laid in the days, weeks and months that followed the Sept. 11 attacks, when the guiding assumptions of the “War on Terror” were put together.

Caroline Glick(August 29, 2021 / JNS)

Afghanis crowd the airport in Kabul after U.S. troops get ready to withdraw and the Taliban wait to take over the country, Aug 18, 2021. Credit: John Smith 2021/Shutterstock.

Even before the suicide bombings outside the Kabul airport on Thursday evening, the U.S. media was acting with rare unanimity. For the first time in memory, U.S. media organs across the ideological and political spectrum have been united in the view that U.S. President Joe Biden fomented a strategic disaster for the United States and its allies with his incompetent leadership of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Some compare it to the 1961 Bay of Pigs; others to Saigon in 1975; others to the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. Whatever the analogy, the bottom line is the same: Biden’s surrender to the Taliban has already entered the pantheon of American post-war defeats.

Biden is personally responsible for the humanitarian and strategic disaster unfolding before our eyes. He is the only American leader in history who has willfully abandoned Americans and American allies to their fate behind enemy lines. But while Biden is solely responsible for the decision to leave Afghanistan in its current condition, it isn’t Biden’s fault that after 20 years of war, the Taliban was still around, stronger than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, and fully capable of seizing control of the country. The foundations of that failure were laid in the days, weeks and months that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, then-President George W. Bush and his national security team put together the guiding assumptions for what came to be known as the global war on terror. In the years since, some of the assumptions were updated, adapted or replaced as conditions on the ground evolved. But three of the assumptions that stood at the foundation of America’s military, intelligence and diplomatic planning and operations since then were not revisited, save for the final two years of the Trump administration. All three contributed significantly to America’s defeat in Afghanistan and its failure to win the war against global terror as a whole. The first assumption related to Pakistan, the second to Iran and the third to Israel.

By rights, Pakistan should have been the first domino to fall after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Taliban were the brainchild of Pakistan’s jihad-addled ISI intelligence agency. Al-Qaeda operatives also received ISI support. But aside from a few threats and temporary sanctions around the time of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the United States took no significant actions against Pakistan. The reason for America’s inaction is easy to understand.

In 1998 Pakistan tested nuclear weapons. By Sept. 11, 2001, Pakistan fielded a significant nuclear arsenal. Following the attacks, Pakistan made clear its view of nuclear war, and the connection between its position and its sponsorship of terror.

In October and December 2001, Kashmiri terrorists sponsored by Pakistan attacked the Jammu and Kashmir parliament and the Indian parliament. When India accused Pakistan of responsibility and threatened reprisals, then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf placed the Pakistani military on alert. India began deploying troops to the border and Pakistan followed suit.

Rather than side with India, the United States pressured Delhi to stand down, which it did in April 2002. In June 2002, Pakistani-backed terrorists carried out suicide bombings against the wives and children of Indian soldiers. The countdown to war began again. In June 2002, again bowing to U.S. pressure, India pledged it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the conflict. Musharraf refused to follow suit.

Rather than rally behind India, the Bush administration wrested an empty promise from Musharraf that he would stop sponsoring terrorism and then pressured India to stand down again. The U.S. message was clear. By credibly threatening to use its nuclear weapons, Pakistan deterred the Americans. Less than six months later, North Korea expelled United Nations inspectors from its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran escalated its covert nuclear activities at Isfahan and Natanz.

The U.S. decision to dodge a confrontation with Pakistan following the Sept. 11 attacks empowered the ISI to rebuild the Taliban and Al-Qaeda after the United States decimated both in its initial offensive. Taliban leaders decamped to Pakistan, where they rebuilt their forces and waged a war of attrition against U.S. and NATO forces and the Afghan army and government they built. Osama bin Laden was living in what amounted to a Pakistani military base when he was killed by U.S. commandos. That war ended with Biden’s surrender and the Taliban’s recapture of Kabul this month.

This brings us to Iran. In their post-Sept. 11 deliberations, Bush and his advisers decided not to confront Iran, but instead seek to reach an accommodation with the mullahcracy. This wasn’t a new policy. Since the Reagan administration, the dominant view in Washington has been that it is possible to reach an accord with the Iranian regime that would restore the strategic alliance between Washington and Tehran that existed prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Bush and his advisers were not moved to reassess that view when they learned that Iran provided material support to the September 11 hijackers. They didn’t reconsider their assumption after Al-Qaeda’s leadership decamped to Tehran when the Taliban was routed in Afghanistan. They didn’t reconsider it when Iran served as the headquarters and the arms depot for Al-Qaeda in Iraq or the Shi’ite militias in their war against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

Barack Obama embraced Bush’s assumption on Iran. Instead of confronting Tehran, he tried to realign the U.S. Middle East alliance system toward Iran and away from America’s Arab allies and Israel. He effectively handed Iran control over Iraq when he withdrew U.S. forces. He paved Iran’s path to nuclear arsenal with the 2015 nuclear deal.

After a prolonged fight with the Washington establishment and its representatives in his cabinet who embraced Bush’s assumptions, in his last two years in office, Donald Trump partially abandoned the strategic assumption that Iran could and should be appeased. Biden, for his part, is committed to reinstating and escalating Obama’s policies towards Iran.

As for Israel, in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, then secretary of state Colin Powell convinced Bush to adopt two related assumptions on Israel. First, he determined that terrorism against Israel was different—and more acceptable—than terrorism against everyone else. And second, Bush determined that the war against terror would be directed at terror groups, but not at governments that sponsored terrorism (except Iraq). As former Bush administration official David Wurmser, who was involved in the post-Sept. 11 deliberations, recalled recently, Powell argued that terrorism threatened the Arabs no less than it threatened America. This being the case, the trick to winning them over to the U.S. side was to give them a payoff that would make it worth their while.

Israel was the payoff. The United States would be able to bring Syria on board by getting Israel to give the Golan Heights to the Assad regime. Washington would bring in the Saudis and the rest of the Sunnis by forcing Israel to give Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem to the PLO.

Ahead of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tried to unravel Washington’s guiding assumption about Iran. He told Bush and his advisers that Iraq hadn’t posed a strategic threat to Israel or anyone else in the region since the 1991 Gulf War. If the United States wanted to defeat global terror, Sharon explained, it should act against Iran. The administration ignored him.

As for the administration’s assumptions about Israel, a week after the attacks, Bush deliberately left the terrorism against Israel out of the war on terror when he told the joint houses of Congress that the war would be directed against terror groups “with global reach.”

Recognizing where the Americans were headed, in October 2001, Sharon gave what became known as his “Czechoslovakia speech.”

Following a deadly terror attack in Gaza, Sharon said, “I call on the Western democracies, and primarily the leader of the free world, the United States: Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938, when enlightened European democracies decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for ‘a convenient temporary solution.’

“Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense—this is unacceptable to us. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism. There is no ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism,’ as there is no ‘good murder’ and ‘bad murder.’”

The administration’s response to Sharon’s statement was swift and furious. Sharon was harshly rebuked by Powell and the White House and he beat a swift retreat.
A month later, Powell became the first senior U.S. official to officially endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Sharon’s failure to convince the Americans to rethink their false assumptions owed to his incomprehension and fear of Washington. Benjamin Netanyahu, in contrast, had an intimate familiarity with the ways of Washington. As a result, his efforts to convince the Americans to reconsider their assumptions about Iran and Israel met with significant success. Netanyahu’s first success in relation to Iran came through the Arabs.

Netanyahu recognized that the Arab Gulf states were as threatened by Iran—and by Obama’s efforts to appease Iran—as Israel was. So he reached out to them. Convinced by Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia led the Arab Gulf states and Egypt in embracing Israel as their ally in their existential struggle against Iran. Confronting Iran, the Saudis explained, was far more important to the Arabs than helping the Palestinians.

Israeli-Arab unity on Iran stymied Obama’s efforts to win congressional approval for his nuclear deal. It also stood at the foundation of Trumps’ decision to abandon Obama’s deal.

Netanyahu used his operational alliance with the Arabs as well in his effort to undo the U.S.’s false assumptions about Israel, particularly in regard to the Palestinians. He also used public diplomacy geared towards influencing Israel’s congressional supporters and public opinion. Netanyahu’s efforts derailed Obama’s plan to dictate the terms of a “peace” settlement to Israel. Under Trump, Netanyahu’s efforts influenced Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and convinced Trump to support Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.

Distressingly, Netanyahu’s successes are being swiftly undone by the Biden administration and the Bennett-Lapid government.

There is a growing sense that Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan is setting the world back 20 years. But the truth is even more dire. In 2001, the United States was far more powerful relative to its enemies than it is today. And as has been the case for the past 20 years, the situation will only start moving in the right direction if and when America finally abandons the false assumptions it adopted 20 years ago.

Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The unity of the Shi’a Horn: Daniel 8

Iran’s Guards Renew Pledge To Support Iraqi Shiite Militias

The commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Falih Al-Fayyadh, has said on Sunday that his organization “owes its existence” to former Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone attack in Baghdad in January 2020.

Fayyadh, who is sanctioned by the United States for human rights abuses in killing Iraqi protesters, met with Hosasein Salami, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, IRGC in Tehran during his trip to attend the inauguration of Islamic Republic’s new president Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi), which took place on Thursday, the official IRNA new website reported.

The leader of the Iraqi Shiite militia created by Iran’s financial and military support said that “the enemy thought with the martyrdom of Haj Ghasem” the resistance would fall apart but now the US has decided to leave Iraq.

Last month, the United States announced its decision to reduce forces in Iraq and shift the role of remaining units to training Iraqi forces rather than involvement in combat operations.

Former US president Donald Trump decided to kill Soleimani who was Iran’s Middle East military, intelligence and foreign policy chief, when attacks by PMF and other Shiite militias in Iraq increased against US targets, including its embassy in Baghdad in December 2019.

Hossein Salami, commander of IRGC meeting with Falih-Al Fayyadh in Tehran. August 8, 2021

Salami, praising the PMF, or Hashd Al-Shaabi in Arabic, said that “When we speak about the decline of America on the world stage, an important part of it has taken place in Iraq.” He added that “resistance” in Iraq has weakened the United States by imposing a heavy cost on them and “they are caught between two evils, whether to stay or leave Iraq.”

The Islamic Republic and its allies and proxies in the region use the term “resistance” to mean all forces aligned with Tehran and organized to fight Israel and the United States. That includes the PMF and others in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Palestinian Hamas, Houthis in Yemen and the Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad.

Salami also highlighted the role of military forces in politics saying that “fundamental words are always uttered on the battlefield,” adding that PMF is excellent in that respect. “When we and the Muslim nation saw America’s wrath and anger toward you, we were overjoyed because we realized how effective you were,” Iran’s top military commander said.

Salami assured Fayyadh that the Islamic Republic is behind PMF. “We are your protector and backer in continuing this big battle,” Salami said and expressed hope that US forces will leave Iraq.

As the US and its European allies, France, Germany and the United Kingdom negotiate with Tehran for restoring the JCPOA, or the 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran’s role in the region is one of the most intricate issues. Washington wants guarantees from Tehran that it will negotiate over its interventionist policies in the region, while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appears to be completely opposed to any discussion except restoring the JCPOA.

For the Islamic Republic, the crucial issue is lifting US sanctions that have devastated its economy. The restoration of JCPOA would mean Washington has to lift a significant part of those sanctions. But once sanctions are lifted, there is no guarantee that Iran will not use the economic lifeline to further expand its political and military influence in the region.

While 9/11 Came Closer, the Beast from the Sea Focused on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs: Revelation 13

The Road to 9/11 Header

While 9/11 Came Closer, George W. Bush’s Team Focused on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs

By William M. Arkin On 8/7/21 at 5:00 AM EDT

In this series, Newsweek maps the road to 9/11 as it happened 20 years ago, day by day.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published a secret report on “Iraq’s Reemerging Nuclear Weapon Program,” part of a raging debate within U.S. intelligences community agencies as to the state of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program. United Nation’s inspectors had been banned from inside the country since November 1998, leaving U.S. intelligence to largely speculate as to what was going on.

Intelligence thereafter poured in from the intense American monitoring of Iraq, from regional allies (particularly Israel and Jordan) as well as the Iraqi expatriate community, suggesting that Iraq was pursuing nuclear and biological weapons as well as long-range missile—a phantom that would build in intensity after 9/11. The high priority intelligence collection supported the basic American policy—and the U.N. requirement—to eliminate all of Iraq’s WMD. Before the events that forced Saddam to eject U.N. inspectors—a combination of increasing aggressiveness on the part of the singularly focused U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), the discovery of U.S. spying under the guise of the inspection effort—Iraq had been about to receive a clean bill.

We now know that U.S. intelligence not only misread the situation but that much of the reason that Washington (under the Bush and Clinton administrations) believed Saddam was secretly pursuing WMD was that he was lying to his own generals and diplomats, telling them that Iraq indeed had such a capability, hoping the lie would deter major attack and keep him in power.

The main issue on the table on August 7 was the purpose of aluminum tubes that Iraq attempted to import from China, the 3,000 tubs intercepted in Jordan in July. Though the tubes were intended to manufacture multiple rocket launchers, at the time, the DIA, CIA and Department of Energy intelligence component concluded that the thickness and strength of the tubes made them more suitable to be rotors in a gas centrifuge, to be used to enrich uranium. The DIA stated in the August 7 report that “alternative uses” for the tubes were “possible,” but that such alternatives are “less likely because the specifications [of the tubes] are consistent with late 1980’s Iraqi gas centrifuge rotor designs.”

saddam hussein intelligence  9/11 bush clinton iraq
While the U.S. intelligence community failed to see the 9/11 plot, it overestimated the threat of Iraqi WMDs. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Jacques Pavlovsky/Sygma via Getty Images

Though many government analysts would change their view regarding the tubes—and Iraq would argue vociferously, and accurately, that the tubes were indeed intended to build multiple rocket launchers—the debate would continue up until the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. It is now clear in hindsight that Iraq was front and center in Washington and a focus of the Bush administration long before 9/11. The outgoing Clinton administration not only left the status of Iraq’s WMD unclear, and a priority for intelligence collection, but had instituted a policy (adopted by the new Bush team) that there could be no certification of Iraq being free of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, nor normalization of relations, until there was regime change. The approach left little room for a negotiated settlement, paving the way to eventual war.

Follow the Newsweek live tweet of September 11, 2001 (based upon the new book On That Day) starting at 4:45 a.m. EST @Roadto911.

The cost to upgrade Babylon the Great’s Nukes: Daniel 7

Surprise! Upgrading America’s Nuclear Arsenal Will Be Stupefyingly Expensive

The cost jumped $140 billion in just 2 years. Here’s why.By MAY 26, 2021

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate of nuclear weapon expenditures over the next decade has jumped a staggering $140 billion in just 2 years.

The estimate, which the agency provided to Congress to give an idea of how much it will take to build new missiles, ships, and planes, as well as revamp America’s vast nuclear infrastructure, comes as key members of the legislature are pushing to cut nuclear weapons spending over the next 10 years.

The CBO’s “Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces 2021 to 2030” report estimates spending on nuclear weapons between 2021 and 2030 will cost $634 billion. That’s 28 percent higher than in 2019, when the CBO last published an estimate for nuclear spending between 2019 and 2028. The agency says the bulk of the increase is due to inflation and the inclusion of new nuclear programs set to start between 2028 and 2030.

The Pentagon hasn’t spent much—relatively speaking, of course—on new nuclear weapons systems in the 30 years since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. operates just one intercontinental ballistic missile (the Minuteman III), 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines fitted with the Trident II D-5 missile, and a mixture of B-52 and B-2 bombers.

The Minuteman III dates to the 1970s, while the Ohio-class submarines launched in the 1980s, and the bombers are a mixture of 1960s and 1990s aircraft. With the possible exception of a stealth bomber or two, the Pentagon hasn’t built a major nuclear delivery system in the 21st century.

But the U.S.’s spending holiday on nukes is coming to a head. While the Pentagon has updated the three legs of the nuclear triad—ICBMs, submarines, and bombers—the branch has new versions of all three systems in the pipeline.

The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) missile is set to replace Minuteman III, the Columbia-class missile submarines will replace the older Ohio class, and the new B-21 Raider bomber will replace the B-2. The Pentagon also plans to introduce new nuclear-tipped aircraft and submarine-launched cruise missiles.

The B-21 Is the Coolest Plane We’ve Never Seen
The 2-year increase accounts for upgrades to nuclear weapons laboratories, fuel processing facilities, testing grounds, and other sites. Like the weapons inventories themselves, these sites have been passed over for funding as nuclear weapons have taken a backseat to counterterrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The CBO estimates it will cost approximately $142 billion to modernize these sites over 10 years.

The high cost of nuclear weapons is leading calls to cuts in nuclear modernization. The Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act, which Congress introduced this week, calls for cuts amounting to $78 billion.

The cuts include canceling the GBSD ballistic missile, Long Range Stand Off nuclear cruise missile, and the new submarine-launched nuclear-armed cruise missile. The SANE Act would also reduce the number of active warheads by 500 warheads to 1,000, limit nuclear warhead production, kill the modernization of other warheads, and retire the B83 nuclear gravity bomb, which is the largest warhead in the U.S. arsenal at 1.3 megatons (1,300,000 tons of TNT).

Does a Nuclear ‘Dyad’ Make More Sense?
In killing off a replacement for the Minuteman III, the SANE Act would effectively reduce the nuclear arsenal from a triad of land-based missiles, submarines, and bombers to a dyad of submarines and bombers.

This would save a lot of money in the long run (the total GBSD acquisition costs are an estimated $100 billion) but it could also increase technical risk, as a flaw found in the remaining nukes could suddenly sideline hundreds of weapons. How much risk is the U.S. willing to accept while Russia and China operate hundreds of nukes of their own?

The Beast of the Sea Adds His Insight on Iran: Revelation 13

George W. Bush: ‘Iranian influence’ is behind Hamas attacks on Israel

By Steven Nelson
Former President George W. Bush said in a new interview that Iran helped spur the Hamas terrorist group to attack Israel.

Bush told Fox News that what “you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel.”

“I think the best approach with regard to Iran is to understand that their influence is dangerous for world peace,” he said.

The Republican former commander in chief said “they are very much involved with extremist movements in Lebanon and Syria and Yemen, and they are aiming to spread their influence.”

Hamas is a Palestinian offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist movement that seeks to infuse religious fundamentalism into government. The US has condemned the group — which has controlled Gaza since 2007 — as a terrorist organization.

Although Iran opposed Sunni extremists in civil wars in Syria and Yemen, it allegedly supports the Palestinian group in fighting common enemy Israel.

The Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which is closely linked to Iran, joined the current fighting by firing its own missiles at Israel this week.

Other Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have speculated that Iran arms Hamas, which launched about 3,750 rockets over nine days from poverty-stricken Gaza toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

McConnell said Iran backs Hamas and “keeps their rocket arsenals full.”

Hamas launched a barrage of missiles into Israel beginning last week after clashes in Jerusalem sparked by an Israeli court decision that ordered the eviction of Palestinian tenants who stopped paying rent in East Jerusalem.

Although Iran’s precise involvement in regional conflicts often is murky, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Hossein Salami, said Wednesday that “Tehran backs the Palestinians’ fight against the Zionist regime.”

Salami boasted, “The Palestinians have emerged as a missile-equipped nation.”

Bush, who was president from 2001 to 2009, led the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 after 9/11 and ordered the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, making claims about weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be bogus.

Rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza City heading towards Israel on May 18, 20219.
Rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza City heading toward Israel on May 18, 2021.
Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images
US military involvement in the Middle East later divided Republicans, with former President Donald Trump calling the invasion of Iraq one of the worst decisions in US history, in part because it allowed Iran’s influence to expand during a long-running insurgency against US troops.

Bush has rarely commented on political issues since leaving office, but told that he’s concerned about efforts by the Biden administration to resurrect a nuclear deal with Iran that was brokered under former President Barack Obama. He said a new deal should be “comprehensive.”

“Any deal that is done has got to not only focus on its nuclear capabilities, but also its influence in the Middle East,” Bush said. “And you know, any deal, you’ve got to keep in mind the dangers of an aggressive Iran to our allies, and to stability, so it has to be a comprehensive look.”

Bush also offered support for the Abraham Accords negotiated by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The accords resulted in the recognition of Israel by four Arab countries.

“Once the sit-in settles down, and if those Abraham Accords hold, it will make it easier to establish peace,” Bush said. “But right now, those who don’t want peace are provoking and attacking Israel, and Israel is, of course, responding for national security reasons.”

Babylon the Great’s Record Nuclear Spending

Biden budget calls for record military spending, nuclear weapons and hypersonic missile

Amid mounting tensions with both Russia and China, the Biden administration has requested the largest military budget in US history, demanding $753 billion, or more than the next 10 biggest militaries combined, in annual military spending.

The budget calls for additional spending on nuclear weapons, the upgrading of the country’s nuclear-capable ballistic submarine fleet, and the development of a whole new range of long-range weapons that military planners say are necessary for the US to fight a major war with Russia or China.

The budget exposes the hollow promises of the “progressive” wing of the Democratic party, including Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who claimed that a Biden presidency would be a departure from the militarism and warmongering of former president Donald Trump.

The Pentagon (Wikimedia Commons)

Instead, just months into his presidency, the Biden administration has poured gasoline on global flashpoints, creating the greatest period of tensions between the United States and Russia since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, and with China since the 1970s.

Following an announcement by the US proxy regime in Ukraine last month of a plan to militarily retake Crimea from Russia, relations between Washington and Moscow have been on a hair trigger. On Friday, the United States announced plans to deploy warships to the Black Sea, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned about the eruption of a “full-scale” war.

At the same time, the Biden administration has moved to deploy offensive weapons on the islands surrounding China and is discussing a military alliance with Taiwan, creating a standoff in both the strait of Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Biden’s budget proposal continues and accelerates the multi-trillion-dollar nuclear buildup initiated under Obama and continued under Trump, featuring the development of smaller, more “usable” nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable cruise missiles.

Foreword to the German edition of David North’s Quarter Century of War

Johannes Stern, 5 October 2020

After three decades of US-led wars, the outbreak of a third world war, which would be fought with nuclear weapons, is an imminent and concrete danger.

The text of the budget request says it will maintain “a strong, credible nuclear deterrent for the security of the Nation and U.S. allies,” adding that “the discretionary request supports ongoing nuclear modernization programs.”

The budget proposal firmly targets China and Russia, declaring, that it “prioritizes the need to counter the threat from China as the Department’s top challenge. The Department would also seek to deter destabilizing behavior by Russia.”

In order to carry this out, the budget explicitly endorses the so-called “Pacific Deterrence Initiative,” which aims to ring China with offensive, land-based missiles previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

“Leveraging the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and working together with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, DOD would ensure that the United States builds the concepts, capabilities, and posture necessary to meet these challenges.”

In addition to the development of new forms of previously-banned offensive weapons, the budget prioritizes the development of “hypersonic strike capabilities” capable of evading defenses to deliver nuclear payloads.

The budget declares that “Maintaining U.S. naval power is critical to reassuring allies and signaling U.S. resolve to potential adversaries,” adding, “the discretionary request continues the recapitalization of the Nation’s strategic ballistic missile submarine fleet, and invests in remotely operated and autonomous systems and the next generation attack submarine program.”

Coming after four consecutive years in which Trump increased the Pentagon’s budget, military officials had expected that Biden would keep military spending unchanged, or even cut it. Biden’s defenders among the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party likewise promoted the belief that Biden would shrink the military budget. Instead, Biden has only intensified the massive inflation of the Pentagon budget.

But the defense budget is just one component of a massive increase in domestic spending aimed at countering China. Earlier this month, Biden announced a $2 trillion infrastructure bill centrally aimed at “strategic competition” with Beijing.

Explaining the bill, Biden said China is “attempting to own the future—the technology, quantum computing,” he said. “That’s the infrastructure of a nation.”

“Do you think China is waiting around to invest in its digital infrastructure or in research and development? I promise you, they are not waiting. But they’re counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited and too divided to keep pace.”

This week, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unveiled the “Strategic Competition Act of 2021.” The bill will be an “unprecedented bipartisan effort to mobilize all U.S. strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools for an Indo-Pacific strategy that will allow our nation to truly confront the challenges China poses to our national and economic security,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez.

He added that “The Strategic Competition Act of 2021 is a recognition that this moment demands a unified, strategic response that can rebuild American leadership,” and “invest in our ability to out-compete China.”

Such flagrant misuse of society’s resources for the preparation of reckless and destructive wars is doubly criminal while the world is in the grips of an out-of-control pandemic. While capitalist governments declare that the population must “live with” COVID-19 because containing it is too expensive, unlimited resources are made available to plan and prepare for wars that could potentially kill billions of people.

The rapid escalation of the US conflict with China and Russia raises immense dangers. Facing an enormous social crisis at home and a raging pandemic, the United States is desperately seeking to divert internal tensions outward.

But nothing about these war plans is inevitable. Workers must mobilize on the basis of a common, socialist and internationalist perspective, to stop the reckless war drive of the capitalists. The essential precondition for this development is the decisive repudiation of the Democratic party and all those who promote illusions in it.

Babylon the Great test to launch ultra-fast hypersonic missile fails

US Air Force test to launch ultra-fast hypersonic missile fails

Tuesday, April 6th 2021, 11:25 AM EDT

Modernization of the Nuclear Horns: Daniel

Nuclear Modernization in an Era of Great Power Competition

March 30, 2021

America’s nuclear weapons deter attacks on the United States from biological, cyber, conventional, or nuclear weapons. That deterrent capability has kept the nuclear peace for seventy-five years but is now in danger of rusting to obsolescence. Why?

With the dissolution of the Soviet empire, the U.S. kicked the nuclear modernization can down the road, going on what MG Garrett Harencak, USAF (ret.) called a three-decade “nuclear procurement holiday.” Consequently, the U.S. now needs to acquire a new nuclear triad, warhead production complex, and command and control system rapidly and sequentially. The challenge of doing so at “the speed of relevance” over the next 25 years is more daunting than any effort since World War II.

The good news is the modernization plan has been endorsed on a bi-partisan basis under both Presidents Obama and Trump and approved by Congress for 12 consecutive years. That consensus is a national gift that should not be squandered. 

The not-so-good news is that to continue, the U.S. will have to be clear about deterrent funding requirements, understand the threats, avoid adopting untenable options that would cripple the deterrent, and ignore calls for more delay. 

What is Deterrence?

 Nuclear deterrence is the state where an adversary chooses not to attack the United States or our allies because our will to use our military capability can inflict unacceptable costs on them. Our deterrent strategy is carefully crafted, conventional wisdom notwithstanding, and holds at risk an adversary’s military capability without which they cannot achieve their hegemonic objectives.

An LGM-30 Minuteman III missile soars in the air after a test launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

How Did We Get Here? 

While the U.S. has been on an extended “nuclear procurement holiday,” the Russians paused only temporarily to comply with START I reductions and regain their economic footing. But since 2004, Russia has completed 90% of its planned acquisition of 22 new types of nuclear-capable cruise, land, and sea-based ballistic missiles, bombers, and submarines. 

The History of Arms Control

Can more arms control rectify the current imbalance of a fully modernized Russian nuclear complex compared to a U.S. nuclear force now older than at any time during the nuclear age? No, it cannot. However, while arms control cannot end the underlying pursuit of hegemonic nuclear objectives by Russia, if done correctly it could help strategic stability by providing transparency about Russian nuclear forces. 

For example, despite the 1972 SALT nuclear arms agreement and a policy of “détente,” Moscow’s long-range strategic nuclear arsenals increased five-fold in the subsequent 15 years to near twelve thousand treaty-compliant warheads. By 1980 Moscow believed the “correlation of forces” had shifted so dramatically it would enable the Soviets to “win” the Cold War. 

Closing the Window of Vulnerability

To remedy this imbalance, in 1981 President Ronald Reagan called for a combined nuclear modernization, and reductions in nuclear weapons. Particularly important was closing the “window of vulnerability,” by securing major reductions in overall nuclear forces and a ban on large, multiple-warhead land-based missiles, the Soviet weapons most capable of carrying out a feared pre-emptive bolt-from-the-blue attack. 

President Reagan also proposed a “zero-zero” option, banning the Soviet SS-20 medium range missiles in Europe and Asia. Originally ridiculed as a “trick,” the deployment of a NATO-approved Pershing and Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) counter missile deployment, a “peace through strength strategy,” ended the Soviet attempt to intimidate our European NATO allies. The subsequent 1987 Intermediate Forces Treaty (INF) banned such missiles on both sides, the first such agreement in history. 

President Reagan’s larger geopolitical strategy also succeeded, and just four years later the Soviet empire collapsed. With the subsequent signing of the START I (1991) and START II (1993) treaties by President George H.W. Bush, deployed strategic nuclear warheads on both sides were intended to be cut by an unprecedented 70 percent. Reagan’s new and sensible idea worked: you could simultaneously reduce nuclear weapons while modernizing. (While the 1991 START I treaty entered into force, the START II ban on multiple warhead land-based missiles, signed by Presidents Yeltsin and Bush in 1993, was eventually rejected by the Russian Duma.)

In 2002, President George W. Bush first removed the United States from the ABM treaty in order to deploy a missile defense against North Korean missile threats. 

And then the next year, the United States and Russia agreed to the “Moscow Treaty” further reducing deployed strategic nuclear weapons from the START I level of 6000 to 2200, proving you could build defenses while also doing arms control, upending a long-standing disarmament community assumption. 

In 2010, the United States and Russia signed New START, capped Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicles (SNDVs), at 700 long-range strategic missiles and bombers, while cutting warheads to a notional 1,550. 

American drafters of New START knew the U.S. required a modern ICBM force of Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) missiles, a fleet of 12 new Columbia class submarines, and a nuclear capable B-21 bomber, along with 40 nuclear capable legacy B-52 bombers for continued deterrence. All of which fit within the constraints of the agreement. 

The Obama administration confirmed the New START framework with Congress in December 2010 in a bipartisan deal with Senator Jon Kyl. In short, while the United States still has the smallest and oldest nuclear deterrent in 60 years, a bipartisan modernization consensus exists to rectify the current geostrategic imbalance. 

Two Choices Ahead

Admiral Charles Richard, Commander of USSTRATCOM, underscored that the United States faces two choices: we either replace our legacy systems with modern deterrent forces, or our forces become obsolete within the next decade. 

Nonetheless, nuclear critics are advocating for major force changes: the unilateral elimination of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program; eliminating up to half of our submarines; and ending the bomber cruise missile. If adopted, these measures would unilaterally reduce American SNDVs under New START from 700 to 156, a whopping 80%. The biggest push by disarmers is to eliminate ICBMs. Their argument goes as follows: 

• The ICBM missiles are in fixed silos. 

• It is assumed that in a crisis the Russians would attack those locations. 

• The U.S. might mistakenly cause Armageddon by launching our missiles having assumed a Russian attack is underway.

In fact, in 1980, a training tape used at Strategic Air Command was mistakenly loaded into the early warning system and appeared to show real Soviet missiles headed our way. The disarmers fear that such an error could happen again, and the President might mistakenly assume the Russian strike was real. And if the President was under pressure to launch our ICBMs (“use ‘em or lose ‘em”) there would not be time to determine whether the attack was authentic. The notion then arose that ICBMs are on ‘hair trigger” alert, and vulnerable to launch on warning. 

The real story is that the 1980 alarm was quickly determined to be false, the USAF went back to normal alert levels, but more importantly, a technology fix was instituted to where such a false warning from a training tape is no longer possible. 

Sponge Strategy?

Bound and determined, the disarmers then invented another ICBM ghost story. In this new narrative, our 450 ICBM silos and their 45 launch control centers spread out over tens of thousands of square miles in five midwestern states, are assumed to be strategically irrelevant and nothing but a “giant sponge.” 

If Russia decided to take out America’s nearly 500 ICBM assets, Moscow would need to use upwards of 1000 highly accurate warheads, and thus divert weapons that would otherwise have been used against American cities. 

However, when examined, the narrative falls apart. First what are the chances the Russians would actually attack American ICBM silos? The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, a 2020 Federation of American Scientist essay, and a 2021 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace publication, all concluded the chances of such an attack are “near zero.” 

Why? As former Air Force Chief of Staff, General David Goldfein explained, the U.S. ICBM force is so broadly spread out that any disarming attack is technically and operationally impossible. In addition, even after such an attack, the U.S. could respond with upwards of a thousand retaliatory warheads from surviving elements of the Triad and destroy most significant vestiges of Russian military power. This makes any such initial Russian nuclear attack suicidal. 

Second, even if you assume the Russians would use 1,000 warheads in a suicidal attack on the U.S. ICBM “sponge,” the Russians retain plenty of additional warheads to incinerate America’s largest cities. Thus, there is no “sponge strategy.” The sponge idea exists only in the fevered imagination of some in the disarmament community.

Does The United States Have Too Many Warheads?

Another disarmament meme – also wrong – is that the U.S. just has too many warheads, as we can destroy most Russian cities with a much smaller force. Since the early 1970s, the United States adopted a “counter-force” deterrent policy where we hold at risk an adversary’s military capability and forces but not their cities. Mutual assured destruction, or “MAD” as it was known, that called for “city busting,” went out the strategy window some half century ago. 

The deterrent policy requirements are not set by the U.S. military but by the President. Military leaders then adopt a strategy to implement those requirements. Today, that strategy holds at risk enemy military targets which, if destroyed, would compel our enemies to stop the fight and the pursuit of their hegemonic objectives. Our deterrent is sized to accomplish that task. 

The U.S. Has to Stop Arms Racing?

But isn’t the U.S. engaging in an arms race by modernizing its nuclear enterprise? Wouldn’t U.S. restraint end the “arms competition.” 

The United States is not in an arms race; Russia and China are. The Russians are building new types of nuclear systems at two-thirds the Cold War rate. While the Chinese are projected to double their nuclear arsenal within this decade. 

Since the inception of New START in 2010, the Russians have deployed 20 new types of nuclear systems including cruise, land-based and sea-based strategic missiles, submarines, and bombers. 

By contrast, the U.S. will not initially deploy a new type of nuclear weapon until 2029. As former Defense Secretary Harold Brown described the arms race and the Soviets: “When we build, they build. And when we stop, they build.” 

Nuclear Threats

What are the major nuclear threats the United States and its allies face? 

First, Russia and China are building up their nuclear forces across-the-board. Second, Russia and China have a militarily cooperative policy, including conducting joint military exercises. Third, and most disquieting, Mr. Putin has adopted an “escalate to win” nuclear strategy, a threat in a crisis or during a conventional conflict to use a limited number of nuclear weapons against the United States to coerce the U.S. to stand down. The Russians, and now increasingly Chinese Communist Party leaders, believe this will succeed, as they assume the United States will not have the stomach to risk, or have the necessary forces to credibly deter, any such threatened escalation.

However, it is important to acknowledge that under a limited strike scenario, all U.S. nuclear forces, including ICBMs, would be available for retaliatory strikes. The Russians and Chinese if contemplating such strikes, would face the full panoply of Americas retaliatory deterrent forces, but credibly available only if acquired in a timely fashion.

Eliminate the GBSD

Minuteman III for the time being remains a credible deterrent. It was upgraded starting in 1995 with a propulsion and guidance replacement program that extended the life of the system through the year 2030. 

Having repeatedly lost the fight to unilaterally eliminate U.S. ICBMs, critics have adopted an interim idea – extend Minuteman III, delay GBSD, and study everything – again. 

Does this make sense? No. 

Admiral Charles Richard, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, has explained that Minuteman is old technology that can no longer be replaced. The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten, has said that shortly after 2030, Minuteman will “begin to fall apart.”

General Hyten led requirements when ICBMs were assigned to Air Force Space Command where he examined the issue. He has repeatedly testified before Congress that the Minuteman system cannot be further refurbished, that the 1995-2005 guidance and propulsion replacement program was only designed to give Minuteman an additional 20 years of life. During that extra time, it was assumed the United States would develop and begin to deploy a new land-based missile – which indeed is the current plan approved by Congress. 

Numerous studies by both the U.S. government and outside independent groups have all concluded GBSD is required to sustain credible nuclear deterrence and is the cost-effective choice. Extending the life of Minuteman III – even if possible– makes no sense because it simply cannot provide the required capabilities for a credible nuclear deterrent. 

The GBSD not only meets the deterrent requirements set by U.S. Strategic Command, but the new modular technologies also allow for considerably less required maintenance personnel. This factor alone may eliminate tens of billions of dollars in lifetime costs.

Stability, Hedge Capability, and ICBMS

What if the United States eliminated all ICBMs and if needed, moved all the ICBM warheads to the submarine fleet? 

The United States currently has over 500 nuclear assets with which any potential adversary must contend if contemplating a military conflict with United States. Eliminating the ICBM force would reduce the number of strategic targets an adversary would have to attack to disarm the U.S. from about 500 to 10-13 – three bomber and two submarine bases plus five to eight submarines at sea. 

As former USAF Chief Staff Larry Welch warned, eliminating ICBMs is an open invitation to our enemies to concentrate their technological ingenuity in finding our submarines at sea. Without ICBMs, the potential to pre-emptively disarm the United States of its nuclear capability emerges as a real possibility. 

Former Secretary of the Navy John Warner revealed his biggest fear was if one of our “Boomers” did not come home. He noted further: “How would we even know who took out one of our ballistic missile carrying submarines?” Over time, the entire fleet of submarines could be eliminated.

Former senior OSD official Dr. Brad Roberts underscored this danger. He explained  that conventional wisdom assumes the oceans, unlike the air, space, and land, will never become transparent. Prudence dictates the requirement for a prompt response capability to deter conflicts that only ICBMs can provide, and a smart insurance policy should a technological problem arise with our submarines. 

Even more calamitous, eliminating ICBMs reduces the number of warheads the United States is allowed under New START by 64 percent, leaving the U.S. in a weak position from which to maintain deterrence or negotiate any further arms reductions.

Now why not simply add the 400 ICBM warheads to the submarine missiles to maintain the number allowed by treaty? The U.S. could, in theory, add all 400 ICBM warheads to all 16 missiles deployed on each of 12 Columbia class submarines. The end result would be a submarine fleet maxed out at 1536 warheads, and thus with zero ability to add to the American arsenal. This eliminates any “hedge” or insurance policy to build back up if the strategic environment worsens. 

Is Defense Affordable? 

The final issue raised by critics of nuclear modernization is that it’s “not affordable.” Often relied upon are CBO reports estimating American nuclear modernization costs of $1.2 trillion. To get to that number, CBO: 

• Estimates costs for three decades. 

• Includes 100 percent of the bomber costs. 

• Arbitrarily adds a 3 percent per year cost growth; and

• Merges legacy system sustainment and new modernization. 

What’s wrong with these numbers? 

• Congress considers budgets for five-year defense plans or even a ten-year budget window, but not 30 years. Projecting three decades effectively doubles cost estimates.

• The nuclear elements on U.S. bombers are 3% of the total cost. 

• Fully half of the estimated nuclear costs are the maintenance of legacy systems, not modernization. 

In short, when these factors are considered, modernization costs are actually quite reasonable. Even at its peak in 2030, all nuclear costs will remain at less than 1 percent of the federal budget, while modernization alone will be 0.5 percent and 3-3.4 percent of the federal and defense budget, respectively. As former Secretary of Defense James Mattis understood, such costs are reasonable because as he explained, “Survival is affordable.”

Peter Huessy is President of GeoStrategic Analysis, founded in 1983 and specializing in strategic nuclear and missile defense analysis. This past year he co-directed the publication of a nuclear handbook distributed by the Louisiana Tech Research Institute.

The nuclear horns that we know of: Daniel

Nuclear Nations Fast Facts

CNN NewsourceMarch 28, 2021

US & World

Here’s a look at nuclear nations.

Information about nuclear stockpiles varies from source to source. The information below is sourced to the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Countries with confirmed nuclear weapons

China – 290 warheads, approximately 90 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

France – Approximately 290 warheads.

India – 150 nuclear warheads.

Pakistan – 90-110 nuclear warheads.

Russia – 1,444 warheads on 527 ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), and warheads designated for heavy bombers.

United Kingdom – Approximately 225 strategic warheads.

United States – 3,822 nuclear warheads.

Countries with unconfirmed nuclear weapons

Israel – Suspected to have enough plutonium for 100-200 nuclear weapons.

North Korea – Has conducted at least six nuclear tests since 2006. Claimed, in 2017, to have successfully conducted their first test of an ICBM.

Countries suspected of developing nuclear weapons

Iran – World powers, including the United States, want to curb Iran‘s nuclear program to keep it from developing a nuclear bomb. For more details on Iran’s program, visit Iran’s Nuclear Capabilities Fast Facts.

July 14, 2015 – After 20 months of talks, negotiators finalize a landmark nuclear deal between Iran, the United States and five other countries. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) states “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will (it) ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons.” The agreement, which has a 15-year time frame, requires Iran to reduce its centrifuges by two-thirds. It also bans enrichment at key facilities. In exchange, the country will get relief from economic sanctions and permission to continue its atomic program for peaceful purposes.

May 8, 2018 – US President Donald Trump announces that the United States is officially withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

Countries that have the ability to build nuclear weapons, but claim not to have any nuclear ambitions

Japan – On November 30, 2006, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso stated that Japan possesses the knowledge and ability to produce nuclear weapons but has no plans to do so.

Countries that have abandoned nuclear weapons or weapons programs in recent years

Belarus – Still has a civilian nuclear research program.

Kazakhstan – Although it inherited nuclear warheads after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan transferred the inventory back to Russia.

Ukraine – After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had the third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. The weapons were transferred back to Russia.

South Africa – Became a non-nuclear weapons state in 1991.

Babylon the Great Prepares for Nuclear War: Daniel 7

Classified US military war game set to take place as concerns about threats posed by China and Russia increase

Saturday, March 27th 2021, 6:19 AM EDT

Updated: Saturday, March 27th 2021, 10:19 AM EDT

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

The “enemies” will have fictional names, but when hundreds of US military personnel around the globe log on to their computers later this summer for a highly classified war game, it will be clear what a major focus of the scenarios will be — how the US should respond to aggressive action and unexpected moves by China and Russia.

Several defense officials tell CNN that the war game is a top priority for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, who will lead the exercise. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be briefed as it plays out.

The war game is designed to equip the US military’s top leaders to deal with a fictional global crisis erupting on multiple fronts and players will have to deal with constantly changing scenarios and compete for military assets like aircraft carriers and bombers.

They will take place at a crucial time for the Pentagon just months into Joe Biden’s presidency.

The military budget is being set and major decisions on troop levels and priorities are being made so it’s hoped the war game will help prepare the military to face the challenges of the next few years.

War games are always sensitive and outcomes are closely guarded because they can reveal shortfalls in US military plans and operations. One former defense official confirmed that in a recent exercise gaming out a conflict against major adversaries like Russia and China, “we found the Blue Team, the US and allies, kept losing.”

The scenarios covered in the game this summer will reflect real life possibilities. Those could include major cyber attacks, a Russian advance in the Baltics, further militarization of the Arctic by Moscow or China flexing its muscles in the South China Sea or even invading Taiwan.

Arctic exercises

And preparations aren’t just virtual. This week, the US and Canada have been carrying out military exercises, in tough conditions where temperatures can plunge to -20 Fahrenheit, to make clear they are ready to push back against Russian military advances in the resource rich Arctic.

Russia has put advanced missiles in the region to protect its bases there and is directly challenging the US. In 2020 more Russian aircraft flew near US airspace off Alaska than at any time since the end of the Cold War, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command with multiple flights of heavy bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, and intelligence collection planes.

For NORAD, the US and Canadian command overseeing the exercise, a key priority is “being able to track and then defeat” potential Russian military activity in the Arctic, Canadian NORAD Region Commander, Major-General Eric Kenny, told CNN.

Concerns about Russian and Chinese activity are increasing and there are no signs of tensions abating since Biden took office.

“Russia and China military modernization creates some serious potential operational challenges for the US,” Eric Edelman, a former defense undersecretary for policy and expert on military planning, told CNN.

Both nations are expanding their ability to operate in wider areas in Europe and Asia meaning the Pentagon could be forced to send US forces thousands of miles away. “Russia and China are playing a home game, we are playing an away game,” Edelman said.

At the same time the rhetoric from the Biden administration is heating up. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called out Russia for “reckless and adversarial actions” at a NATO meeting in Brussels this week and observed that Moscow has “built up a forces, large scale exercises and acts of intimidation, in the Baltic and Black Sea.”

And on China, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks pulled no punches in a speech earlier this month. “Beijing has demonstrated increased military competence and a willingness to take risks, and it has adopted a more coercive and aggressive approach,” she said before adding that Beijing’s actions “constitute a threat to regional peace and stability, and to the rules-based international order on which our security and prosperity and those of our allies depend.”

Blunt warnings

There is no indication the tough words are tamping down Russian President Vladimir Putin and China President Xi Jinping’s plans to strengthen their militaries to ensure they are capable of challenging the US and its allies. Austin, in the coming weeks, “will focus on deterrence” improvements to counter adversaries, a senior defense official told CNN.

Top commanders are increasingly blunt about both countries, especially on nuclear modernization.

Russia is upgrading bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine launched ballistic missiles and warning systems, “in short, its entire strategic force structure,” wrote Admiral Charles Richard, head of the US Strategic Command in a recent article in the Proceedings of the US Naval Institute journal. Moscow is also building hypersonic weapons that travel more than five times the speed of sound, and nuclear-powered torpedoes, capable of reaching US shores quickly.

Richard warned that China is about to become a nation with a full nuclear triad, with an inventory of nuclear capable missiles, submarines and soon a long-range bomber.

“While the PRC has maintained a “No First Use” policy since the 1960s—contending it will never use a nuclear weapon first—its buildup of advanced capabilities should give us pause. This policy could change in the blink of an eye. Beijing is pursuing capabilities and operating in a manner inconsistent with a minimum deterrent strategy, giving it a full range of options, including limited use and a first-strike capability,” he wrote.

The US military is doing substantive planning for the challenge from Russia and China, with billions of dollars of spending planned on modernization in both the nuclear and non-nuclear arena if its wins Congressional approval.

The US is also looking to send a clear message to Beijing amid concerns about Taiwan as China has increased aircraft and shipping activity near the island.

“Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions,” Admiral Philip Davidson, head of the Indo Pacific Command, told Congress earlier this month. “The threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years.” Admiral John Aquilino, who has tapped to replace Davidson told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, “My opinion is this problem is much closer to us,” adding that the US needs to field weapons and capabilities to deter China “in the near term and with urgency.”

In response to Russian advances in eastern Europe, the US and NATO allies are increasing their own presence. But it’s not enough, warns David Ochmanek, a senior RAND Corporation analyst and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development. “The US and its allies do not have sufficient combat power,” he told CNN. The reality he says is “within 48 to 60 hours Russian forces could be on outskirts of a Baltic capital,” once it pre-positions forces.

US military experts say this underlines why war games like the upcoming summer exercise are so important to ensure the military can practice and plan ahead before a crisis hits.