Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains-----
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See the news below that broke on Sunday.
A number of we old Cold Warriors have had a sense of deja vu. I was a guided missile technician on the old Nike Ajax system. It was designed for air defense. We could track and shoot down menacing aircraft headed our way, and the system was primarily designed to protect against bombers that could deliver nuclear war heads. At that time, Intercontinental Ballastic Missiles and Intermediate Range Missiles were in stages of development. When my package unit was sent to Germany to convert anti-aircraft gun battalions to guided missiles, we discovered something else we could do with Nikes.
A missile battalion consists of four batteries. In a rotating system, one battery is kept on full alert at all times. That means that personnel are on the equipment and the missiles are ready and can fire at a target in minutes. The nights get long on full alert status and the personnel found things to do, like track targets flying the border in East Germany or doing nerdy things with the analog computer, or in general finding ways to relieve the boredom while maintaining vigilance.
A characteristic of the Nike missile was that it was boosted up to a very high altitude and dove down on its target at supersonic speeds. Some personnel began using the clutter plots on the radar to locate very sensitive targets within their range. They were able to lock the target-tracking radar on a ground target and hold it there. If a Nike were fired, it would act like a precision bomb and crash into a target with tremendous accuracy. It did not take long until we found "special warheads" being stored in our munitions bunkers. And it did not take long before a list of ground targets within our range was posted complete with coordinates. We surmised the new warheads included nuclear devices.
Before I left Germany, the battalion began to prepare for being upgraded from Nike Ajax to the Nike Hercules system. Part of that preparation was to accommodate the Hercules ability to take out possible ICBMs and IRBMs and to hit ground targets. Some of the warheads being shipped to the munitions bunkers were clearly labeled radioactive nuclear.
When NATO deployed ICBMs and IRBMs, the targets were already established. The targets are locked into their guidance system and they do not need ground-based radar to steer them to their target once they are aloft. That is a reason that the Cold War remained in a state of restraint. The Soviet Union knew that its most sensitive targets were locked into the guidance units of some guided missiles, and it knew that other missiles could be directed wherever we wanted them by radar commands. This is the capability of ship and submarine-based missiles. The folks behind the Iron Curtain were busy cataloging and recording coordinates for our most sensistive targets. This knowledge kept the world in a state of restraint and deadlock.
Here is where the deja vu comes in. We old missilemen cannot help but assume that in the long hours of the night, some crewmen are programming missiles for Iran and North Korea and crucial targets of some other Islamic belligerents.
The difference is the suicidal aspect of Islamic militants. They might launch a nuclear strike even knowing that western forces could turn entire nations into martyrs in a few hours. Would the threat of total annihilation be a deterrent to nuclear aggression?
Probably not. The Islamic militants are convinced that the infidels, which includes almost everybody but them, are out to commit genocide against Islam. The factors of the western world that eventually led to the dismantling of the Iron Curtain are the very things Islam regards as sinful and decadent.
Nevertheless, we would be foolish not to have our targets plotted and our missiles ready. And my old fellow-missilemen are looking for signs of some missile silos being reactivated in the Dakotas. In 1990, as the old Soviet regimes toppled down, it never occured to us that a Koran Curtain was being woven.This story appeared in Sunday's The New York Times:Iran Tests Submarine-to-Surface Missile
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: August 27, 2006
Filed at 12:19 p.m. ET
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran test fired a new submarine-to-surface missile during war games in the Persian Gulf on Sunday, a show of military might amid a standoff with the West over its nuclear activities.
A brief video clip showed the long-range missile, called Thaqeb, or Saturn, exiting the water and hitting a target on the water's surface within less than a mile. The test came as part of large-scale military exercises that began Aug. 19.
''The army successfully test fired a top speed long-range sub-to-surface missile off the Persian Gulf,'' the navy commander, Gen. Sajjad Kouchaki, said on state-run television.
Iran routinely has held war games over the past two decades to improve its combat readiness and to test equipment including missiles, tanks and armored personnel carriers.
But Sunday's firing of the missile came as Iran remains defiant just five days before a deadline imposed by the U.N. Security Council
for Tehran to suspend the enrichment of uranium, which can produce both reactor fuel and material usable in nuclear warheads.
Iran said last week it is open to negotiations but it refused any immediate suspension, calling the deadline illegal.
Tehran has expressed worry about Israeli threats to destroy its nuclear facilities, which the West contends could be used to make a bomb but which Iran insists are for the peaceful purpose of generating electricity. The Islamic country also is concerned about the U.S. military presence in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.
In an advance for Iran's weapons industry, the Thaqeb is the country's first missile fired from underwater that flies above the surface to strike its target, adding to the country's repertoire of weapons that can hit ships in the Gulf.
Iran's current arsenal includes several types of torpedoes -- including the ''Hoot,'' Farsi for ''whale,'' which was tested for the first time in April and is capable of moving at some 223 mph, up to four times faster than a normal torpedo.