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Feb. 19, 2015
Notes from the Pentagon

China conducts JL-2 sub missile test
China carried out a flight test of its new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile last month, highlighting Beijing’s nuclear buildup of missile submarines. The JL-2 flight test took place Jan. 23, according to defense officials familiar with details of the test.

No details of the test were available. China in the past has conducted JL-2 flight tests from the Bohai Sea.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool declined to comment on the test. But Lt. Col. Pool said the JL-2 was discussed in the Pentagon’s most recent annual report on the Chinese military as one part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s “first credible long-range sea-based nuclear deterrent.”

The JL-2 test took place, coincidentally, on the same day that North Korea conducted what Pentagon officials said was the first flight test of a developmental submarine-launched ballistic missile called the KN-11. Officials said there did not appear to be any linkage between the two tests.

The congressional U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission stated in its latest annual report that the JL-2 is part of China’s expanding strategic nuclear forces and appears to have reached initial operating capability.

“The JL-2’s range of approximately 4,598 miles gives China the ability to conduct nuclear strikes against Alaska if launched from waters near China; against Alaska and Hawaii if launched from waters south of Japan; against Alaska, Hawaii and the western portion of the continental United States if launched from waters west of Hawaii; and against all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii,” the report said.

The commission report said that despite uncertainty surrounding the number of Chinese nuclear missiles and warheads, “it is clear China’s nuclear forces over the next three to five years will expand considerably and become more lethal and survivable with the fielding of additional road-mobile nuclear missiles; as many as five JIN [missile submarines], each of which can carry 12 JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs).”

China’s nationalistic state-run newspaper Global Times in 2013 published a lengthy article that stated that nuclear JL-2 missile strikes on the western United States would kill 5 million to 12 million people through a combination of blasts and radioactive fallout.

The article was later pulled from the newspaper’s website after reports about the provocative report were published in the West.

The Obama administration and Pentagon remained silent on the Global Times report. When asked about the report in November 2013, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert appeared to dismiss the Chinese submarine missile nuclear threat as not credible.

China was to have carried out the first missile submarine patrols with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles by the end of last year.

However, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart told the House Armed Services Committee Feb. 3 that the first missile submarine patrols are expected this year.

Last year, China on two occasions deployed submarines to the Indian Ocean in what Lt. Gen. Stewart said were part of plans for boosting Chinese power projection.

“China continues production of JIN-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” the general said.

President Obama this week is headlining an international meeting in Washington aimed at coordinating efforts to combat Islamist radicalization.

To highlight his point, the president penned an op-ed outlining his position on countering “violent extremism” — the vague buzz phrase being used by the administration as part of politically correct efforts not to focus on the Islamic nature of the current terrorist threat.

Mr. Obama wrote in the Los Angeles Times op-ed that his counter-ideology program is aimed at “winning the hearts and minds” — echoing the soft-power policy used in Vietnam that failed to prevent the communist takeover in 1975.

The president stated that his administration’s “countering violent extremism” efforts are focused at reaching out to unspecified local communities to try to prevent radicalization. He specifically sought to distance Muslims from terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State by claiming the terrorist groups’ religious interpretation of Islam is “twisted.”

Mr. Obama also apparently has misunderstood the motivation of terrorists in al Qaeda and the Islamic State, who he said had exploited “injustice and corruption” to recruit terrorists — rather than offering a politico-religious ideology taking offensive steps to eliminate all opposition to its goal of imposing fundamentalist Islam.

“Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies,” Mr. Obama wrote. “Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity.”

“Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds,” he said.

Sebastian Gorka, the Horner distinguished chairman of military theory at the Marine Corps University, said counter-ideology efforts against the Islamic State and other jihadi propaganda have been “pinpricks and often counterproductive.”

Mr. Gorka told Inside the Ring that the State Department’s program called “Think Again, Turn Away,” which seeks to dissuade future terrorists through social media, “is almost comical in its naivete.”

And the Islamic State’s justification for burning a captured Jordanian pilot to death was based on theological grounds that the pilot was more than a mere infidel but an apostate, deserving harsher treatment, he said.

“Unless we understand and counter the jihadi narrative at its source — which is religious — we will have zero effect on ISIS’ capacity to continue to recruit mass numbers of fighters from the region and the West,” Mr. Gorka said, using another acronym for the al Qaeda offshoot.

“Western governments and the U.S. should instead use all available channels to delegitimize the ideology of global jihad which entails understanding the religious themes they use,” he added.

“Denying ISIS’ religious justification of mass beheadings, crucifixions and immolation is analogous to fighting the Nazis in World War II whilst denying the existence of fascist ideology and Hitler’s logic for the ‘Final Solution.’”

Foreign Policy reported this week that the administration itself is divided over the counter-ideology program with a debate over whether its should be “countering violent extremism” — CVE — or “preventing violent extremism,” or PVE, the latter term being promoted by Sarah Sewall, the undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights.

“If you ask people in Sewall’s office, they’ll be able to tell you what the difference is between PVE and CVE, but it’s a bit unclear to everyone else,” one State official was quoted as saying.

Additionally, another State Department official told the news outlet that the department’s leadership “is bent on mashing together a variety of potential drivers of extremism into its part of the conference.”

“Extremism varies from country to country, neighborhood to neighborhood, and city to city. How are you going to achieve anything with 60 nations involved?” this official said.

U.S. intelligence agencies have diminished capabilities for conducting spying operations because of the shift to counterterrorism operations since 2001 al Qaeda attacks.

That’s the conclusion of several top former intelligence officials who appear in a new installment of an investigative reporting show now being aired on Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV network.

Brian Fairchild, a former deep cover CIA officer, tells lead correspondent Sara Carter in Blaze’s “For the Record,” airing Wednesday on the network, that U.S. national security has been undermined by the CIA’s lack of strategic focus.

“So the agency has gone from this premier national strategic intelligence organization to a very narrowly focused paramilitary counterterrorism organization, which I think is very sad,” Mr. Fairchild tells Ms. Carter.

Additionally, with the erosion of the CIA’s human intelligence gathering capability, U.S. intelligence has shifted to an overreliance on foreign liaison services for information, and on National Security Agency electronic spying.

Recent disclosures about NSA spying have triggered a major debate over privacy and national security.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, also criticizes U.S. intelligence agencies in the program.

During his time in Afghanistan, Gen. Flynn said, he wrote a report critical of military intelligence gathering because “I recognized that we were overly focused on capturing and killing the enemies that we were facing there.”

In counterterrorism, “our forces were changing, our strategy had changed, but the intelligence system had not changed,” he said.

Both former officials faulted the government for failing to understand the ideology behind current terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

“You can’t fight the enemy if you don’t understand them,” Mr. Fairchild said. “That’s the problem that we have today.”

Gen. Flynn said U.S. counterterrorism capabilities today are “awesome,” but he compared them to “the best spear fishermen in the world” who are good at going after individual targets but have lost sight of more strategic targets.

On Islamic terrorism, Gen. Flynn urged the United States to “deal with the underlying current” of Islamist ideology.” He also faulted what he said were policies that “disregard the threats that you’re facing and stick to a plan not connected to the threats we’re facing.”

U.S. intelligence officials need more overseas experience to better understand threats and challenges, he said.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

Ms. Carter, the network’s senior investigative correspondent, said the program “provides an important look at the growing problem of U.S. intelligence agencies losing sight of their overall strategic mission of stealing secrets in support of U.S. policy objectives, a problem caused by being too focused on counterterrorism activities.”

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter at @BillGertz.

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