RANDALL SCHRIVER: Okay, good afternoon. I think the intent was to go seamlessly, no break, and move right into this. So I think we did that fairly well. It’s a real pleasure for me to be here and I want to thank Ian Brzezinski at the Atlantic Council and Raytheon for organizing this. For me, if I wasn’t sitting up here, I’d want to be sitting out there because I think the missile defense challenges in Asia are very real, very pressing, and in a lot of ways will be the most consequential set of issues for our posture and our planning for contingencies going forward, if you look at the nature of the threat and how it’s evolving.

And we have an excellent panel here to help us explore these issues. On my immediate left is David Gompert. He currently serves as a distinguished visiting professor for national security studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he’s also a graduate. He is an adjunct senior fellow at RAND. He’s served in a number of important government positions. Most recently, he was the principal deputy director of National Intelligence, from 2009 to 2010. And for a period, he was the acting director for National Intelligence. And as I mentioned, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton.

Joining us also is Dr. Patrick Cronin. He is a senior advisor and senior director for the Asia-Pacific Security program at CNAS, the Center for New American Security. He’s served in a number of research organizations and think tanks at senior levels, to include INNS, at NDU. He’s also been with the U.S. Institute of Peace.

In government, Dr. Cronin served at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was the number three ranking official there and he also played a very important role in the establishment and design of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. He’s also been a professor and has taught at a number of universities, to include Georgetown and Johns Hopkins SAIS. He read international relations at St. Antony’s College at Oxford. I got to get this straight. When you got to Oxford, you’d read for things, you don’t just study for things. And he got his M.Phil. and D.Phil. degrees at Oxford. And he is a graduate from the University of Florida.

And as I mentioned, this, I think, is a very important panel included in a number of important panels and sessions throughout the day, but my institute, we do a lot of work on the security challenges in Asia. And for as far as the eye can see, particularly developments in North Korea and China with the PLA, these types of offensive systems are really the backbone and pillars of these militaries. And even in the case of China, although their military modernization is full spectrum in all area, really it’s hard to see that fundamental fact changing, that the backbone of this military is going to be ballistic and cruise missiles for as far as the eye can see and it’s going to affect how they plan for their own possible contingencies in the Asia-Pacific.

So very much looking forward to the comments of our panelists and the discussion that will follow with the audience here. So David, why don’t you kick us off?

DAVID GOMPERT: Thank you. Let me suggest a very simple model, even simplistic model for thinking about missile defense in East Asia. And it’s simply to observe that we’ve got a big threat and a small threat. And we’ve got some combination of deterrence based on the threat of retaliation that is and missile defense to work with.

And the interesting thing about the big threat, small threat way of looking at things, if somewhat paradoxical, is that with regard to the small threat, I think there are some questions about our certainty of deterrence. Whereas with the large threat, I think deterrence is going to work. I think it’s already in place and already working.

So with the small threat, if we have doubts about deterrence and we worry a lot about that particular regime, then defense becomes not only important, it becomes imperative. And I’m going to return to that.

Whereas with the big threat, we have a lot more confidence in deterrence and it so happens that defense is extremely problematic, certainly with current technologies and I would say with any technologies in the next 10 or 15 years, we’re still dealing with enormous technical challenges and economic challenges.

So let me start with the small, which in a way is the most critical. I think it’s a mistake to think that the North Koreans might resort to some suicidal use of a nuclear weapon in some demonstrative way in the end days, okay? I don’t think they would view it as suicidal. They might view it as really their best remaining option. That this is a regime, don’t forget, that uses not only the possession of nuclear weapons, but the detonation of nuclear weapons as a policy instrument, and has done so really more than any regime in the last 10 years or so.

Moreover, it’s a regime, in a way, even an organism that is conditioned to respond by striking out when under duress. These are reflexes that are built into the way this regime perceived the world and would perceive its own survival. So I think that raises enough doubt, maybe not in deterrence theory, but at least in psychological terms, about the state of the mind of the regime when under severe pressure, to the point where I don’t think we can have adequate confidence in deterrence.

So missile defense – and this is no news to the people here – I think that you have a stronger case with North Korea for missile defense as you do anywhere. But the important point I think is that if you’re going to have missile defense against North Korea, you better make it as good as money can buy. And I’m not sure that currently we’re able to do that, more for alliance reasons than for U.S. reasons.

This is a threat potentially against three targets – South Korea, Japan, and the United States. I worry less in the immediate sense about the ICBM threat than I do about the expansion of the shorter and medium range threat, which I think for them technically is a lot easier than overcoming some of the ICBM problems. But given the multiplicity of potential targets, given the geography, given the geometry, this really cries out for the kind of integrated missile defense that we’ve all advocated for so long, space-based and ground-based sensors, land-based and sea-based interceptors, and so on, just with regard to hit-to-kill. And this suggests that the only solution that’s going to be adequate, given that this is a real potential problem of possible nuclear use, in a crisis that may well come, it’s got to be trilateral and really is not.

I think the United States should be very impatient with its Northeast Asian allies about the need for adequate and therefore integrated and trilateral missile defense architecture and cooperation for Northeast Asia against North Korea. I think the Japanese are moving in the right direction. I mean, the Japanese – we have our own cooperation with the Japanese, involving sensors, as well as interceptors, and likewise, some cooperation for long with South Korea. But it’s the unity of the two that I think has been eluding us. And I think the United States should hammer home that there is really little room for error in the adequacy of our missile defense.

With all due respect to our South Korean friends, I think they have a problem at the current state of affairs in relying on Japan-based systems, Japan-based sensors, because there’s a political problem, obviously, between the two. But they also have a problem with China that they’re concerned – I mean, China is a very important country for South Korea. South Koreans are concerned about how the Chinese would perceive a sort of full-blown, integrated, trilateral Northeast Asian missile defense system. Would this be not only against North Korea, but also against China?

I think that’s not an adequate concern that should prevent us from having that kind of missile defense, but it’s a concern nevertheless. So let me turn, very briefly, to China, the big problem. If the Russians have reasons to be concerned about the missile defense, well, so should China. I’m not suggesting that either one ought to, but the Chinese have at least as much reason to be worried about where missile defense is going to go because they basically believe in minimum deterrence, and are prepared to do, I think, whatever they need to do programmatically in order to make sure that they have been minimum deterrence, but it gets a little bit tougher for them, as our missile defense capabilities, particularly if we cooperate with others, expand.

So I understand Chinese nervousness about this, but on the same – but on the other hand, I think their doubts are really unwarranted because the United States has made it pretty clear – I think that we should make it clearer, but we’ve made it pretty clear that we have entered into and are comfortable with the relationship of mutual strategic nuclear deterrence with the Chinese. We’re not going to attempt them through any offensive or combination of offensive and defensive capabilities denying them a retaliatory capability.

Now, just to conclude, I don’t know that that’s going to satisfy the Chinese, but whether it satisfies the Chinese or not, the imperative, once again, is the problem we face with nuclear weapons, a significant number of them and a significantly growing number of potential delivery systems in the possession of the last regime in the world we would want to have these weapons.

So for all the ambiguities we face in our missile defense programs and politics, I think the one that is abundantly clear, at least to me, is the requirement for a trilateral cooperation and an integrated architecture for Northeast Asia. Thank you.

MR. SCHRIVER: Thank you. Patrick.

PATRICK CRONIN: Randy, thank you very much. I certainly subscribe to everything David Gompert just said with only a few nuances of difference. He may not agree with everything I have to say. Let me make four points.

The first one is that the missile defense issue in Asia-Pacific is longstanding and enduring, as well as, as Randy suggested, a pressing issue as we move forward. And it’s a question for the United States, listening to the President’s speech at West Point today, whether the United States under any leader is capable of taking preventive action and investing in the future, rather than simply doing and waiting for crisis management, because that’s really where we’re headed right now.

We’re basically at risk of getting behind the curve or on a breakthrough of North Korean capabilities, tactical nuclear weapons, nuclear ICBM, also nuclear medium range ballistic missiles that could be a game changer in the region. Deterrence, as David suggested, could fail with North Korea. My only quibble with David is that I wouldn’t call it a small issue. It is small relative to China. But that’s a very big issue in and of itself, and I’m sure he would agree with that.

So this is the first point. The second point, as we look at the allied trilateral relationship that David talked about, starting first with South Korea, the good news is that Park Geun-hye, the president of South Korea, has become very serious in high-level discussions and in public about the need for defense. She’s pressing against, however, some of her own defense establishment and also some of her own public sentiment for a number of reasons. But the good news is that last October, as part of the Security Consultative Meeting process, the official alliance management mechanism, both agreed on this four D strategy to detect, defend, disrupt, and destroy North Korea’s increasingly capable missile inventory. So something like Global Hawk, for instance, is very important purchase to provide the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The defense improving paths of an active defense, so the upgrade, finally, long overdue, from Patriot 2 to Patriot 3, PAC-3 upgrades, and also sea-based interceptor missile is very important capability. Disruption – ROK still lacks, perhaps, some of the big strike capability, although they’re currently trying to buy it for the long term. And destruction means as a focus on adversary command and control assets, again a longer term, very dependent on the United States ally for this capability.

They’re missing something in the middle, and I’ll come back to that in a minute. Let me turn to Japan as third point. Prime Minister Abe ha dwelt on a deteriorating security environment, from his perspective and the perspective of his party. He’s also seeking to essentially normalize Japan’s defense posture to create a new post-World War II identity for Japan as a normal power. And the issue of collective self-defense is just the latest in this series of moves that he’s been making that have included loosening up on exports and shifting to a much stronger posture of a proactive contribution to peace.

He appreciates the vulnerability of the North Korean missile and nuclear programs, as most Japanese have, since 1998, when the Taepodong missile flew over Japan was a real wakeup call that Japan was extraordinarily vulnerable and remains vulnerable today. That’s one reason why Japan is going from four to eight Aegis equipped destroyers. They had six Aegis, but only four were equipped with Aegis. And they’re adding two more or fitting two others. That’s going to be part of the missile defense system. And those Aegis destroyers were deployed, as you may recall, in December of 2012, during the missile launch from – three-stage rocket launch from North Korea that was successful, as well as in the spring, to the Sea of Japan, last year.

They’re increasing demand awareness. Global Hawk is part of that, but also the E-2C early warning aircraft system that’s in the new midterm defense plan. They’re improving air defenses, although here Japan may be missing an opportunity. They’ve got a whole series of F-15s that they’ve been upgrading, F-15 Kais. They could reprogram that money to future F-15 upgrades and have a better-multilayered air defense and missile defense system.

They’re procuring and already have procured Standard Missile 3 and PAC-3s. And they’ve got PAC-3s at 11 locations; these point defenses for 20 to 30-kilometer range, very important point defenses. But ultimately, they need a network. Everybody does. The only way you can make defenses cost effective, as David sort of implied, is through some leveraging of national programs by integration. This is the only thing that works and you can only do it against, as he says, the small threat, that is the North Korean – the finite threat of North Korea.

And here Japan has, because of its China focus, principally, rather than North Korea, and because of its fatigue about the history questions, we could use different words on this issue, but it’s hampered the ability to have an intelligence agreement with South Korea. It’s hampered the ability to do BMD cooperation and other contingency planning.

So fourth and final point is sort of the next steps for this regional network building. I would argue that deploying and integrating the ballistic defense system among the United States and Japan that is interoperable with South Korea should be an overriding priority. I use that phraseology deliberately to indicate my sensitivity to South Korean public sentiment. They don’t want something that they consider to be and have to sell as integrated with even the United States. This is an issue that’s coming up in a wartime operational control issue, but also, as David suggested, between Japan and South Korea. But if it’s interoperable enough, it’s basically integrated. (Laughs.)

So I think we can finesse this in public and then privately have our national security teams thread and finesse this difference. But clearly in Korea and Japan need THAAD missile batteries to handle a wider range of missile threat. This has got more than 10 times capability than the PAC point defenses. And if you’re dealing now with the growing threat of even tactical short-range nuclear weapons that could be launched against South Korea or medium-range against Japan, we already have THAAD in Guam and in Hawaii. So this provides another layer and a multilayered sort of missile defense coupled with other programs like the X-band radars in Japan.

For China, as, again David Gompert already suggested, China gets upset when there’s any improvement in defense around the region or on its periphery. Sometimes it’s worth a dialogue with China and sometimes it’s partly just China venting about an improvement around its periphery. There are reasons for China to be concerned about integrated missile defenses, but at the end of the day, if our missile defenses truly are aimed at, again, using David’s nomenclature, the small threat of North Korea, then you have – really, this can be sold to the Chinese. And they can understand the difference. Because I agree with David Gompert that the deterrence between China and the United States at the strategic level is more stable than that.

Steps clearly need to be taken to improve the South Korea and Japan relationship beyond what has now started in these past six months, ever since the President put his arm around President Park and Prime Minister Abe in The Hague. And that’s led to a series of at least director general meetings. I expect there to be a summit meeting by next year if things don’t go off-track. But even with that, President Park still faces obstacles at home because of defense spending priorities. And defenses cost a lot. THAAD is expensive. And this is where she is going to have to convince her national security team that this is indeed the priority that she, I believe, thinks it is.

Regionally, more broadly, beyond Korea, Japan, the United States, we do need a much broader common operating picture. This is sort of a different subject, but it’s not just MH370 and the missing Malaysian aircraft, but it is a matter of integrating wider Indo-Pacific network. It could tie globally, but we need a bigger network of making sure that we have the kind of information that allows national governments and national security elites to make decisions in advance of crises occurring or to respond when they do occur.

I think I’ll stop there, Randy.

MR. SCHRIVER: Thank you. Thank you both. You put a lot on the table and certainly enough for us to generate a lot of discussion. I might just kick it off and then – do we have microphones? Is that how this works with audience questions? But maybe I’d just start with a couple.

David, if I could paraphrase, and correct me if I’m getting it wrong, but you described a smaller threat, a bigger threat in size, but bigger threat of lesser concern because essentially deterrence – we can have higher confidence in it. But I think you’re speaking almost exclusively in the nuclear realm, when in fact the China missile challenge or missile defense challenge, the bulk of it is conventional, short-range ballistic and cruise missiles. And further than that, they’re getting into hybrid type systems, ASBM maybe, have some characteristics of ballistic missiles, some characteristics of a cruise missile. Does your view on this change or would you say something differently if you bring in the conventional and how would that sort of impact your view on what we should be doing regionally?

MR. GOMPERT: It would reinforce my view in the sense that if we think it’s difficult and going to be even more difficult to pose a threat to Chinese strategic offensive retaliatory force, the thought that we’re going to be able to defend our forces and our bases throughout the Western Pacific against the Chinese short and medium-range ballistic missile personal, which can grow to virtually whatever size they want it to grow, it becomes even more mindboggling.

So I – but the theater problem, if you will – now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t protect this ship or that airbase or whatever, but on the whole, the technologies and the economics are clearly against us in the theater, even more so than at the theater continental level.

Now, would that change with new technology if we moved to use of drones and/or directed energy? I don’t think so. I think the Chinese just have too many options that they haven’t really pursued. They’ve expanded their shorter and medium range ballistic missile forces, but they have options with regards to their strategic forces through that they haven’t pursued moving – putting more on submarines and so on.

Nevertheless – so I’m not too concerned that the technologies that Pat O’Reilly and his colleagues talked about are going to really disturb the emerging deterrence relationship with China. But those technologies could be very important vis-à-vis North Korea. Because, again, with North Korea the small problem is not necessarily going to remain so small, because as I said earlier, I worry less about the ICBM than I do about the expansion of the short and medium-range arsenals and the possibility that those are going to have weapons of mass destruction, nuclear or otherwise.

And I think for that small but getting larger problem, the new technologies – and I’m eager to hear what Dean and Jim Miller and their colleagues have to say about the new technologies – I think those could be extremely important, rather than relying on hit-to-kill, even for a growing North Korean threat. I jumped around at that, but I hope that’s clear.

MR. SCHRIVER: Thank you. And Patrick, you’ve certainly done a lot of work on Japan-South Korea relationship and what we might be able to do to sort of bridge those gaps. David used the phrase we should be very impatient with our allies. You talked about it being a high priority for the U.S. to try to compel or persuade cooperation. You had a sort of an elegant phrasing of integrated U.S.-Japan and interoperable with South Korea. And if you’re interoperable enough, you’re virtually integrated.

In a practical sense, what are the two or three steps we should be taking to get toward that outcome of integrated U.S.-Japan, interoperable South Korea? What should be on the agenda, very concrete practical things to move in that direction?

MR. CRONIN: Sure. And I’ve already kind of hinted at them. One of them is the intelligence sharing agreements, that there’s crossed on, shared classified information, the GSOMIA agreement is the acronym, something that was close to happening in 2012, before former President Myung-bak visited Dokdo/Takeshima Island, which created a new crisis in Korea and Japan relations, from which they haven’t really fully recovered.

But the national security elites, in both the defense and intelligence communities I’ve spoke to – and I’ve spoken to hundreds in the last year alone in Japan and Korea, even when they’re together, they agree in general on the need for this, but politically, they can’t sell it because there’s no political risk taking allowed for President Park or she cannot spend enough political capital or not willing to spend enough political capital to go out on a limb for this when there’re other priorities.

So we need to get over that hurdle and get to that intelligence sharing agreement. I’ve always thought that we need to pre-position it ready for a crisis, the next missile launch, the fourth nuclear test, next provocation, and then make it happen.

THAAD, in terms of covering much wider area, it’s great that the PAC-3s are finally being procured in Korea. It’s long overdue to provide some real protection. But the THAAD provides the kind of wider area protection, just as it could for Japan. I think that would be huge. And if you could cooperate, make it interoperable with the X-band radars that we now have deployed, that would be even better.

And then, finally, you need greater contingency planning – (inaudible) –contingency planning. I agree with David. We should be impatient, but we should be impatient, but we should be impatient kind of quietly more than publicly, in terms of verging these allies to advance what they know is in their national interest. So we need to help overcome the political hurdles.

MR. GOMPERT: I just want to make a point. There was no controversy in the previous panel, so we should have at least a little bit of controversy in this one. I mean, I spent a lot of years in the State Department, so I’m all for wordsmithing my way around problems. But integrated and interoperable, let’s – they’re not the same thing. Now, maybe they could become the same thing, but integrated means that things happen in seconds. They happen at speeds that are required for, you know, sensors and shooters to work as part of a single system. That’s not what interoperable means.

Maybe, with everybody doing a wink-wink and a nudge-nudge, interoperable means integrated, but I’m skeptical that we’re all talking about the same thing.

MR. SCHRIVER: Are you talking about sort of an interim step, though, to deal with the political issue –

MR. CRONIN: I’m talking about the world not the world we want to be in. This is the world we’re actually in. This is what I can sell. This is what the U.S. government could sell today to South Korea. And we can build on that step tomorrow. I want to go the same place David does, but I’m telling you, this is what’s possible.

MR. SCHRIVER: Let me ask a question for either of you. And perhaps this reveals some of my own biases. But I was a little surprised one country wasn’t mentioned at all, given where the missiles, the bulk of the missiles are in Asia. Neither of you mentioned Taiwan. Does Taiwan figure in at all into a regional strategy? Does Taiwan figure into U.S. priorities in this area?

MR. CRONIN: Well, I mean, I think – again, I’d probably pick up David Gompert’s good point in terms of the China being the big problem that really you can’t solve through this technology alone. And we certainly can’t solve it given the constraints on the U.S.-Taiwan relationship and the budget problems.

Taiwan doesn’t – isn’t threatened by North Korea. It’s threatened by China and the Mainland. And it needs to acquire an anti-access, area denial kind of strategy, an asymmetric strategy even, that allows Taiwan to continue to have enough confidence to deal with the Cross-Strait issues and differences, fear – free from the fear of coercion and intervention. That’s just not a missile defense system. It’s really a host of diplomatic, political, as well as anti-access kind of technologies that deal with the mines and deal with even submarines perhaps, but not missile defenses in my view.

MR. GOMPERT: I agree.

MR. SCHRIVER: We can turn to the audience. Dean.

Q: Dean Wilkening, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Another country that I haven’t heard you talk about is Australia. And I’m wondering if you have thoughts about the political will, the economic feasibility, or the strategic value of having Australia participate in missile defense architectures in the Pacific region.

MR. GOMPERT: I may not be current, Dean, but let me just give you my take. They – the Australians resemble a European NATO member as much as they do an up and coming East Asian power, you know, 2 percent of GDP on defense, certain view that Australia is a pretty safe place, a view that things can be worked out with China, not in any sort of acommodationist sense, but that. China’s a part of the region. Australians do a lot of business with China.

So now, on the other hand, we have all kinds of exceptionally sensitive and sophisticated cooperation with Australia, virtually as much as with any country in the world in terms of the level of sophistication. So in that sense, it’s a natural, and they’d have a lot to contribute, but whether this would be a priority for the Australians to make a significant contribution, I kind of doubt. And whether this is the contribution we would like the Australians to make, I have to wonder about that, too. I think for most of Southeast Asia – and I would include Australia in that regard – we would like to see them developing systems that can, you know, deal with the South China Sea problem, that can overcome anti-access obstacles, submarines, for examples. I’d much rather see the Australians develop their submarine fleet than participate in regional missile defense.

And then, finally, there is the Chinese factor. There’s one thing to explain to the Chinese that an architecture that is optimized, a tripartite architecture optimized to deal with the North Korean threat need not concern them. It might be – it certainly would be that much tougher to explain how, you know, Australia plays an indispensible role in an anti-North Korean missile defense architecture. Harder to convince the Chinese of that.

MR. CRONIN: I would generally agree with that. I would say, though, that, you know, in terms of space, cyberspace, in the common operating picture that I talked about for the region, there is overlap, obviously, between those dimensions of security cooperation in missile defense. It’s not the same as, but they are the building blocks of it. So in that sense, given our very close relationship with Australia, as one of the Five Eyes countries and really so close in Asia on these issues, this is an area they’re interested in, in those dimensions, at least, and I think we should work with them on that. But they’re not going to buying PAC-3s and THAADs the way that we’re talking about with Northeast Asian countries that feel like they’re on the frontlines of growing North Korean capabilities.

MR. GOMPERT: Ian. (Laughs.)

Q: Bad situational awareness. I’m an Europeanist and so I going to reflect my ignorance –

MR. GOMPERT: I’m a recovering Europeanist. (Laughs.)

Q: Missile defense has become a more animated interested, particularly in Central Europe. Poland, for example, is buying an air missile defense system. I think there’s growing interest in the northern countries in the missile defense system. I don’t think they’re being driven by the catastrophic, apocalyptic scenario of a ballistic missile coming in with a nuclear warhead. I think they’re actually more focused on conventional warheads being deployed through ballistic missiles because they’re fast, they’re quick, they’re accurate. They – if targeted correctly, they can shut down a command and control center. They can ground aircraft and such.

To what degree is concern about the ballistic missile threat in Asia driven by conventional scenarios, scenarios that involve conventional warheads on ballistic missiles, vice the nuclear option?

MR. GOMPERT: Well, I think where the South Koreans are concerned and where we are concerned vis-à-vis security of South Korea, the North Koreans do not need ballistic missiles to deliver high explosives on South Korea. They have lots of artillery for starters and lots of rockets and so on, thousands.

Where ballistic missiles could make a difference for North Korea, certainly the reach into South Korea, well into South Korea, beyond artillery and short-range rocket range, so that’s a problem. But I think it’s the weapons of mass destruction aspect, where ballistic missiles, North Korean ballistic missiles could be a game changer of security on the peninsula. But that’s not only nuclear. That could well be chemical. It could be biological for that matter. That’s the way I would see it and that’s the way I think that South Koreans would see it.

MR. CRONIN: I agree with that. As I wrote in a report earlier this year, based on a lot of discussions with defense planners in Korea, as well as U.S. planners, I mean, the fear that North Korea’s, Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s message was a reference really to creating tactical nuclear weapons is specifically to intimidate South Korea apparently. And this is how it’s being treated, at least within South Korean planning circles. And I think that’s a real driving fear that this will be a game changer.

I think the United States starts to think about, you know, more distant Second Island Chain places like Guam, where it still has to make pivotal investments in moving more forces there – already has a THAAD battery, but we’ll be moving 5,000 Marines in theory in the coming years. That’s where even conventional missiles could make a big difference from a U.S. perspective. And therefore, as part of the U.S.-Japan alliance and Japan training in Tinian, Pagan and other places in theory, in the Northern Mariana Islands, you know, even conventional could be a big issue.

So it varies depending on where you are next to North Korea, but I think it’s the WMD issue that really seizes the mind that could really make a bad day tomorrow.

MR. SCHRIVER: I’m not sure I’m allowed to pitch in or not here, Ian, but you both, for understandable reasons, chose to focus on North Korea. But from the China perspective, it is the conventional ballistic and cruise missiles that are driving interest in missile defenses. And every known contingency that China might be involved in would involve the use of those systems, because that’s the backbone of China’s military. And that’s – they’re really only effective means for power projection, even in their near broad in the periphery at this juncture. And it’s driving U.S. force planning a great deal. When we talk about anti-access, area denial, we’re talking about ballistic and cruise missiles and the ability to target U.S. bases and U.S. assets.

So from the China perspective, it really is the conventional and it’s having a major impact in the way people are thinking. And again, it’s – as far as the eye can see, I don’t see this changing.

MR. GOMPERT: It doesn’t necessarily follow them, Mr. Chairman, because the Chinese have lots of growing – I mean, growing numbers of short, medium-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles that missile defense is the best way to counter that.


MR. GOMPERT: Missile defense is the most cost effective way to counter that.

MR. SCHRIVER: Are you talking about active missile defense or are you talking the full spectrum of missile defenses?

MR. GOMPERT: I’m talking about active missile defenses, yeah.

MR. SCHRIVER: I didn’t say that.

MR. GOMPERT: Intercept, yeah.

MR. SCHRIVER: No, I think, I think –


MR. SCHRIVER: – an integrated approach, hardening and – (inaudible) – to pair the whole spectrum of missile defense of which active systems would be a piece of –

MR. GOMPERT: Even then, that’s not the only way of dealing with the problem.

MR. SCHRIVER: Correct, but if you do all the tools of national power, your diplomacy or everything, at some point, you’ve got to deal with the fact that this is the pillar and the backbone of a military that you may end up confronting in a range of contingencies. You’ve got to deal with those missiles. There’s no way –

MR. GOMPERT: But there are ways of dealing with missiles other than shooting them out of the air or hardening your air bases or pulling your aircraft carriers back there 3,000 miles.

MR. SCHRIVER: Or bombing them before they’re launched or blinding or – which I’m not – when I’m talking about missile defense, I’m talking broad spectrum of defenses against missiles in this case. But – in the back, okay, that back, sure.

Q: (Off mic.) two different questions. One is we’ve had this hub and spoke arrangement in East Asia. Is it possible to have hub and spoke integration where the Koreans and Japanese don’t have to talk to each other, just have to give us their data and, you know, we can launder their information for their system, actually do that technically fast enough to make a de facto integration with us as the real aid between them.

And then second, you know, the China problem, there’s a lot of interest there, not with anti-missile and missiles because of the scale of the problem, but with direct energy, with lasers, with the railguns. In the nearish future, 10 to 15 years, is there a possibility of actually changing that game of the big problem being a problem simply unaddressable by any technological means?

MR. GOMPERT: I’ll answer the first question and turn to Patrick for the second one. I think it’s an important idea what you just suggested. In fact, I like that idea better than I like the idea of saying interoperability but meaning integration. After all, if we are the hub, I mean we fuse, we are the brain center, I mean, we should get data from everywhere we can. And presumably, we would get data from all sorts of places – U.S.-owned platforms, space-based, sea-based, land-based, allied, Japanese, Australian. I mean, who knows where the data comes from. It comes from us basically because we occupy that position. So my advice to the South Koreans is don’t get too worked up trying to trace each photon to its source. Just – (laughs) – participate in a system in which the United States gathers data and provides that data instantaneously to folks who are able to intercept missiles. And oh, by the way, they also input data.

So I think that’s the right way to think about it. Whether that overcomes the South Korean problems of reliance on radars that are based in Japan, I don’t know, but I think it’s the right way to think about it. So thank you for that.

MR. CRONIN: Sure. We have to understand that it’s not just a South Korea and Japan problem. There’s a U.S.-Korean difference on this issue as well. It’s called national sovereignty. It’s real. And so when we get back from a presidential summit and I hear, you know, the top-level officials briefing at the White House that we have agreed on this, it’s sealed, we’re fully integrated, U.S. and South Korea, well, that means the presidents of the two countries agreed. That doesn’t follow that that gets implemented all the way down. So one of the questions I worry about – and I like, in general, your concept of sort of the relay of information – that’s essentially how we’ve worked around the problems to date is that as you get further from the central headquarters of the intelligence fusion, out to the tactical operators, you know, that’s when you find that there are problems potentially, both with systems and with operational training and the lack thereof. And so, you know, it doesn’t necessarily follow that that’s sufficient. It’s a good way to start – keep working on this problem.

Ultimately, I do support the idea of the integration. I’m just working with what I’d see as the very, very oppositional public stance in South Korea on these issues. And I’m trying to work practically around them.

I’ve forgotten your second question. I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer on railguns and so on. What about directed energy?

Q: Thank you, a different mike. Sampling everything like at the ice-cream store. The shift from I shoot a bullet with a bullet to I shoot a bullet with a laser or with, you know, a hypervelocity railgun slug, where I’m not firing $10 million missile or $1 million missile and I’m running out of ammo. Does that change the way we can approach the Chinese part of the problem, which is with current technology, in the category of too big to deal with.

MR. GOMPERT: I think that we – first of all, you don’t need China threat to justify investment in these technologies, in sort of the post-hit-to-kill intercept technologies because I think you could justify it based on the North Korean threat, just the short, medium-range threat. So part of me says, well, let’s develop it for that reason and see what the world looks like in 10 or 15 years.

Second, I’m not sanguine about these particular technologies, delivering sort of operational capabilities within 10 years, maybe 15 years. I’d defer to my friend Pat O’Reilly on this. But I mean, that’s – even that’s a stretch because it’s not just solving the technical problem. It’s the industrial and financial incentives and capabilities to actually create, you know, create such systems. And that’s what takes a long, long time. And even then, I believe there are still questions about the efficacy of lasers against ballistic missiles. I mean, lasers against a lot of things look pretty cool. Well, that’s probably not the right metaphor, but against ballistic missiles, it gets a little bit sportier, I’d say.

So I – first of all, I’m not interested in a game changer with China, when it comes to deterrence. I don’t think this is the most cost effective way to deal with the growing conventional missile problem that China poses. And I certainly think we cannot count on this. I think there are other things we can and should do, like move to more survivable forces than to sink enormous hope and resources into building new technology, missile defenses aimed at denying China a strategic retaliatory capability.

MR. CRONIN: Two I would make on this, and I don’t disagree with anything David just said, but I would say we do need to look out to the middle of the century. That’s where China’s looking out in much of its strategic planning. And they’re biding their time, not as much as they used to, but they’re still biding their time thinking that by then, they really will be able to take on this formidable military that the United States is able to field. These new technologies, we really don’t know their capabilities and their impact when we think out 35 years. So we need to be investing more, which is one reason why at CNAS we have this 20YY project, looking out at the longer term. Because I think this is where we do need to keep shifting money into our research and development, keep prototyping and figuring out what utility they may have.

Even though I don’t disagree with anything David said, I’m more agnostic as I move out to the middle of the century and the future technologies.

MR. SCHRIVER: All the way in the back.

Q: Hi, Kenneth (Lee ?) AEI. It seems –

MR. SCHRIVER: I’m going to get to the all the way in the back one of these times. The way, way back. Go ahead.

Q: It seems like North Korea is going to get nuclear missiles and ballistic missiles at all cost because they believe that that’s going to ensure the regime survival. My question is how long can we wait until we figure out that this is no longer acceptable and we don’t want that kind of technology. And should we be looking at preemptive and preventive measures instead of interception and integrated missile defense?

MR. GOMPERT: Well, it depends on your confidence in your missile defense system. I have enough confidence or at least enough hope that with American ingenuity and diplomacy, with the movement the Japanese are making toward acceptance of responsibility for collective defense, and I hope progress on the part of the South Koreans and recognition of the fact that they’re dealing with – well, they know – a very, very dangerous regime with dangerous weapons that missile defense in Northeast Asia vis-à-vis North Korea will be adequate to cover that uncertainty we have about deterrence, particularly deterring a sort of a final stage nuclear demonstration of some kind.

So that being the case, that to me argues against some sort of preemptive war against North Korea, to take out North Korea’s nuclear installations.

MR. CRONIN: I’ve dealt at some length on this issue in my report, “If Deterrence Fails,” that came out in April. But, you know, it’s a very important question. It’s a question of moving toward what I call minute war, instant war. It’s a matter of like the counter provocation planning and policy and strategy that we have in place with our South Korean ally to respond, things could change so quickly that the difference between preemption and reaction is almost negligible in terms of minutes. So we do have to be better prepared for instant counter provocation policies, which could include having to take out systems that could, in the future, launch WMD at South Korea, U.S. forces, and even Japan.

MR. GOMPERT: Yeah, I think that’s a very important clarification and I certainly agree with that. I thought you meant by your question just a sort of a flat-footed standing start we decided it’s unacceptable, so let’s go take it out. But certainly, in a crisis, in a spiraling crisis, where we thought that there were some heightened prospect that those systems could be used, then all bets are off.

MR. SCHRIVER: Against the wall, all the way in the back.

Q: Thanks, Randy. Libo Liu, Voice of America, reporter doubling as a cameraman. Thank you. (Laughter.) Top United States military officials have testified on Capitol Hill that China is continuing to supply technological assistance to Pyongyang in developing its military capabilities. I’m wondering why the United States cannot pressure China enough to stop Beijing from doing that in exchange for, perhaps, delaying a deployment of a Northeast Asia missile defense system. Thanks.

MR. GOMPERT: Yeah, well until you provided your quid pro quo, I was sort of with you. But – I mean, I don’t think we should make our response – just as we advise the South Koreans and the Japanese not to make their posture on – vis-à-vis the North Korean threat contingent on Chinese wishes or Chinese attitudes.

Well, you know, it’s a mystery to me why, neither we, nor for that matter the South Koreans, who’ve got a very important relationship with China, why neither of us can get the Chinese to do more of the right things and to stop doing some of the wrong things vis-à-vis the Northern regime. I mean, after all, Chinese statements, public statements and what we know about Chinese attitudes suggest that they’re really kind of fed up with the North Korean regime. And while they might talk about the possibility of reform and a more moderate approach, that’s not what they’re seeing. Why that does not translate into stronger Chinese pressure, given the leverage that they have over North Korea? Why it doesn’t translate in having more impact on North Korean behavior, whether it’s nuclear testing or a variety of other belligerent activities? I don’t fully understand.

The Chinese and China watchers say, well, it’s because they treat the North Korean regime with kid gloves, are fearful that if they push it too hard, they might create even greater instability in the regime and on the peninsula, which the Chinese don’t want. I’m not convinced by that argument. I think that the Chinese still have a surplus of unused leverage with North Korea. And we and the South Koreans should continue to lean on the Chinese to use every bit of that leverage.

MR. CRONIN: I think those are good points. I mean, when you think about a different question, under what circumstances might China intervene in North Korea, in the North Korean contingencies. One of the scenarios that is mentioned and that is plausible is to clamp down on the WMD, partly because China has been assisting – (laughs) – North Korea. And it’s partly to cover their own tracks. It’s a very interesting idea to contemplate and it certainly has been discussed in bilateral channels, among others.

MR. SCHRIVER: I think we have time – we can maybe get in two quick – well, I’ll take them both. Dan and Ian.

MR. GOMPERT: There’s two people who haven’t asked their question, though.

MR. SCHRIVER: You can collect them.

MR. GOMPERT: The two ladies.

Q: Mine actually wasn’t going to be a question. Just to add a footnote to this discussion, I believe we have put significant pressure on the Chinese and it has had some payoff. So it’s not as though the Chinese haven’t responded to U.S. pressure to restrict some of its activities with North Korea, just hasn’t gone far enough.

MR. GOMPERT: That’s true.

MR. SCHRIVER: We want to try to get in – we can try a couple more. I do – our host has some prerogative here – (laughter) – but let’s try to collect –

Q: Hi, Jen Judson with “Inside the Army.” Mr. Cronin, you talked about the usefulness of THAAD in the region and I’m wondering if you can elaborate a little bit on why maybe we don’t have plans to deploy THAAD in South Korea or Japan. I know we have X-band radars in Japan, one, maybe two by the end of the year. So can you just elaborate on maybe is it cost prohibitive or other reasons that we don’t have plans?

MR. CRONIN: Well, we only deployed the THAAD battery, for instance, to Guam last year, I believe, when I was there. And I think we’re in discussions with both Korea and Japan about the possibility. Japan and Korea – I mean, if you listened to President’s speech today at West Point, United States can’t do everything, but it’s still willing to lead and to provide collective defense with our allies who can afford to take a bigger role for their own defense. These are issues that affect primarily Korean and Japanese security first and foremost and yes, U.S. interests. So it’s important for these G20 countries, these large economies, like Korea and Japan, to procure their own THAAD battery, to be quite honest, from my point of view. And in many ways, Japan is moving faster than South Koreans would like to buy more hardware. And the South Koreans are moving to procure more, but they have some tough tradeoffs to make, as do a lot of countries, in terms of the right balance. And I think President Park, as I mentioned, is interested in THAAD, but she’s getting pushed back. I think her chairman’s getting pushed back as well from some of the other forces who see other priorities.

So these are just part of the defense debate and budget debate within our allied countries. But I think as North Korea improves its capabilities, THAAD is an essential part of the multilayered defense that will reassure all of us that we can continue to deter and dissuade North Korea, or at least be able to defend if they do something that would be so reckless.

MR. SCHRIVER: All right. We’ll try to move quickly. The woman in the back. Should be right in front of you there. Sorry, okay, Ian, you get the last word.

Q: Missile defense cooperation – sorry – missile defense cooperation in China. I mean, we’ve tried futily with Russia and perhaps that’s lessons learned. Why haven’t we tried missile defense cooperation in China and should we?

MR. GOMPERT: I think it’s easier to make the case that Iran could pose a threat to Russia than it is to make the case that North Korea could pose a threat to China. So you do have a problem of finding a sort of a common reason to do this. Second, if I had the opportunity to push military cooperation, push the frontier of military cooperation with the Chinese; it probably wouldn’t be in this area. It would be in maritime security, maritime cooperation.

So I think I would not place a high priority on it and I’m not sure I would understand what the underlying rationale would be for it, unless the world changes to the point where the Chinese would view the North Koreans as dangerous even to them.

MR. CRONIN: I agree with that. There’s a reason why maritime issues, as well as cyber issues have made the strategic cut already in China, because these are of concern to both of these countries. Going forward, thinking about a roadmap for managing the neuralgic strategic differences between China and the United States, this ultimately could be part of the larger discussion of reassurance. It is an issue, obviously, if you have Japan, Korea, and U.S. integrated in missile defense, China will squawk a lot more about this threat that it poses and the lack of security they have for their minimum deterrence. So we will have to bring it up and we already do, I’m sure, but it’s just not central to the agenda for the reason I think David Gompert rightly underscored.

MR. SCHRIVER: I should probably just add very quickly. There are some legal constraints as well, PLA being heavily sanctioned and technology being heavily controlled. And I think that would quickly get into an area that may be prohibited. I mean, of course, we have a relationship with the PLA, but even that is constrained by NDAA from 2000. And so I think to explore this area, you’d quickly find yourself arriving at a point that we may be restricted from engaging –

MR. CRONIN: But philosophically, you could engage in this discussion.

MR. SCHRIVER: Philosophically. Well, philosophically, I have an issue with the number – the missile defense cooperation with China, build less missiles and deploy less missiles. I mean, philosophically, China is the major driver of the problem. But yeah, theoretically, philosophically, sure, we could engage in this –

MR. GOMPERT: Not as long as we have any concern about the Chinese-North Korean relationship.

MR. SCHRIVER: That’s a major issue as well.

MR. GOMPERT: And the leakage of anything we would tell the Chinese to the North Koreans.

MR. SCHRIVER: So I think we’ve come to the end of this session. Thank you very much –

MR. GOMPERT: Good, thank you.

MR. SCHRIVER: David, Patrick. Thank you, Ian.

MR. CRONIN: Thank you. (Applause.)