BMD Watch: Gen. Lord leaves Space Command

By MARTIN SIEFF, UPI Senior News Analyst  |  Dec. 20, 2005 at 9:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Gen. Lord steps down at USAF Space Command

Gen. Lance Lord, the longest-serving Air Force four-star general on active duty, will retire as commander of Air Force Space Command April 1.

For more than three-and-a-half years, Lord has commanded the main offensive nuclear strategic striking power of the United States, the most destructive military force in the world. Since April 2002, he has directed a global network of satellites, communications and missile warning and launch facilities from Peterson Air Force Base. He also oversees the nation's intercontinental ballistic missile force and is in charge of more than 39,700 people who provide support to North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

Former Air Force Secretary James Roche, in office when Lord took over as the first fulltime Space Command commander, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that Lord had upgraded Space Command to make it "a major partner" of combat commands and Air Force operations in Iraq and Afghanistan by aiding in rapid targeting. He also praised Lord's contribution to ensuring a trained space force.

Lord entered the Air Force in 1969 after graduating from Otterbein College's ROTC program in Ohio. After serving four years of Minuteman II ICBM alert duty, he had several Air Staff and Department of Defense-level strategic missiles jobs and led the Ground-Launched Cruise Missile Program Management Office in Europe, the Gazette said.

Lord commanded two ICBM wings in Wyoming and North Dakota and in California commanded a space wing responsible for satellite launch and ballistic missile test launch operations.

He served as director of plans and vice commander for Headquarters Air Force Space Command. Other posts include commandant of Squadron Officer School, commander of 2nd Air Force and Air University and director of education for Air Education and Training Command. Before coming to Space Command, Lord was assistant vice chief of staff for Headquarters Air Force.

Boeing completes airborne laser tests

The Boeing Corporation has announced that it has completed a series of tests of the airborne laser (ABL) -- a Boeing 747 aircraft featuring a high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser.

During the ground-based tests the laser's duration and power were demonstrated at levels suitable for the destruction of ballistic missiles, Boeing said according to a report on Friday.

"Proving the capability of this laser to operate at lethal levels of power and duration moves the system a step closer to becoming a vital component of the nation's boost phase defense against ballistic missile threat," said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems.

Israel trusts in BMD against Iran threat

Israeli military commanders are confident their multi-arrayed anti-ballistic missile defense system can shoot down any nuclear-armed Iranian missiles aimed at their country.

Uzi Rubin, a defense consultant to the Israel Defense Forces responsible for overseeing the first Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, told WorldNetDaily in an interview published Friday that Israel was in a strong position defend itself from such an attack.

"I think we can shoot down missiles attacking Israel. There are strategic implications. The nuclear threat is not about the chance of one single missile that can sneak through. It's about Israel's retaliatory efforts. They (Iran) have a slight chance or no chance at all of getting through. They will get a second strike from Israel, and that's what they are concerned about," he said.

Rubin told WND that Israel's survivable second-strike capability, carried on nuclear-armed cruise missiles deployed on a mini-fleet of three German-built diesel-powered submarines or U-boats, was the country's most effective deterrent. "Iran could not guarantee their people that they wouldn't be wiped out by retaliation. That is the deterrence," he said.

'Axis of Evil' brings U.S. and Israel closer

The similarity of the nuclear missile threats posed by North Korea and Iran have brought Israel and the United States closer together than ever in their ballistic missile defense cooperation.

Despite the fact that there are no formal defense pacts between the United States and Israel, the level of strategic military cooperation remains high. The successful Juniper Cobra joint anti-aircraft missile defense test conducted during the spring of 2005 reportedly included at least 1,000 American troops who participated in the exercise, WorldNet Daily reported Friday.

Israel and the United States not only have a strategic interest in Iran's weapons capability, but also those of North Korea, WND said. Over the past year, Israeli and American military officials have been comparing notes, it said.

Iran's Shihab missiles are almost identical to North Korea's Nodong missiles. Both rogue states are trying to figure out how to put a nuclear payload on their long-range missiles. The Nodong reportedly can reach Alaska and Hawaii, while Iran's upgraded Shihab can reach into Israeli territory. This has caused Israel and the United States to focus on ways of intercepting these missiles before they can reach land, WND said.

An October 2005 American Foreign Policy Council report states that retired Russian military specialists have been engaged in efforts to help Iran and North Korea share missile technology. Under a secret accord, Pyongyang reportedly provided Tehran with missile technology in exchange for Iran financing the missile deal.

Reserve Maj. Gen. Yaacov Amidror, former head of Israeli military intelligence, claims that Israel told WND that both countries had benefited from the multi-million dollar project.

"We know for sure that the North Koreans helped the Iranians to build their infrastructure connected to missiles. It helped both sides," he said. "The North Koreans were in very deep need of money. And, the Iranians were in a position to make the whole process shorter ... As far as we understand, they got more help from Pakistani experts about the nuclear systems than from North Korea."

Military analysts estimate that Iran and Arab nations have some 1,000 missiles that can hit Israel. Syria alone is reported to possess 400-500 short-range missiles; the Egyptians are said to have 200 Scuds. Much of Israel's defense budget is devoted to advanced anti-ballistic missile technology with the help of U.S. financial aid.

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