A long time ago I used to work at USSTRATCOM as an action officer for missile defense. I was stationed there from 1996-1998 as an active duty
lieutenant, then I worked as a GS-13 from 2004-2014. It was quite a job, as I was a part of our nuclear deterrent, missile defense and early warning
In 2006 I was put in charge of writing the Ballistic Missile Defense Military Utility Assessment (MUA) for the command. What idiot put me in charge,
I'll never know, but suffice to say it was a learning experience. Lots of trips to DC (to visit JTAMDO) and Colorado Springs (JFCC-Missile Defense)
meant that I got to rub elbows with some pretty important people. Obviously that didn't help me in the long term - heh.
Anyways, in late May 2006 I was summoned to DC to speak to a portion of the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) that focused on missile defense. They
wanted my opinion of how our BMDS would perform if/when North Korea launched the Taepo-dong 2 missile they were stacking. We hadn't seen it launch
before, so there was keen interest in both tracking its flight path and intercepting the warhead as a "test" of our fledgling system.
I finally got through all the security and entered into the conference room, ready to go through my super-duper power point slide show that I had to
vet all the way up to the 4-star at STRATCOM. I was ready. At the table there were about 10 big-wigs. I was in the peanut gallery along with
roughly 20 other folks. At the table:
1) VADM David Frost (retired)
2) RADM Kathleen Paige
3) Former CIA Director James Woolsey
Sadly, I forget all the other names, as well as peanut gallery attendees, but to my defense it WAS 15 years ago. Anyways...
Someone from MDA did a presentation (I knew this person as we worked closely in the development of the MUA). It was good but boring AF. Then it was
my turn. I went through my slides to an emotionless table. I thought I was falling on my sword! Finally, VADM Frost asked me point-blank:
Q: Do you think we can intercept the TD-2?
A: I think if we shot a salvo of ground-based interceptors we'd have a 75% chance of success.
I was done and sat down. What happened next was the glimpse behind the curtain
. The discussion centered around the potential embarrassment if
we missed, the potential for an actual re-entry vehicle having a payload (nuke, chem, bio), potential targets in Hawaii and Seattle; It was
fascinating. But then Mr. Woolsey said the following:
"What if we sent a SOF (special forces) team in, shot a couple rounds between the 1st and 2nd stages of the stacked missile? I figure it'd have a
separation failure around 45 seconds into launch."
There was much mumbling at the table, some spirited arguing and then the meeting ended. I was ushered out to catch my flight back home.
Fast-forward about 6 weeks. The 4th of July weekend was upon us, and I was at my dad's cabin. On July 5th the missile launched! ...and failed 42
seconds into flight, stage separation failure
How cool is that?