01 June 2010

Letter to Proceedings Editor by Rear Admiral Eric McVadon on Erickson, Hooper-Albon ASBM Debate

Rear Admiral Eric A. McVadon, U.S. Navy (Retired); Response to “Get off the Fainting Couch,” C. Hooper and C. Albon, pp. 42-47, April 2010; A. Erickson, pp. 8-12, May 2010 Proceedings; and “Eyes in the Sky,” A. Erickson, pp. 36-41, April 2010 Proceedings; U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 136, No. 6 (June 2010), p. 82.

Dr. Erickson reveals the shortcomings of the article by Dr. Hooper and Mr. Albon while valuing its furtherance of discussion of the Chinese antiship ballistic-missile (ASBM) program. Dr. Erickson wrote an article in that same issue on targeting this ASBM. There are important additional concerns.

Dr. Hooper and Mr. Albon alluded to a space system for targeting the ASBM and warheads that would strip the targeted ship of defenses, yet deemed the “hue and cry” unnecessary because experts have known this for years. They described as “poor manners” analysis that ignores as primary targets the smaller aviation ships of Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and Russia. Far more pejorative terms are warranted for analysis that suggests the sophisticated ASBM is designed to fight against these small ships “because they are the ideal platforms to prevent regional aggression”—implying that China intends to attack Thailand?

After dumping prompt global strike into the mix, the authors’ convoluted conclusion was that “ASBM fear-mongering” and the danger of unwarranted nuclear response to a conventionally armed ballistic missile could lead to a “regional effort to slow the proliferation of conventional missiles in the Pacific.” … Their conclusion, like other mental gymnastics revealed by Dr. Erickson’s comments in the May issue, is quite a leap. The appropriate conclusion is that China’s ASBM program is an abiding concern. …