Weekly Intelligence Notes #36-00
8 September 2000

WEEKLY INTELLIGENCE NOTES (WIN) #36-00 dtd 8 September 2000

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RUSSIA TO CUT ARMED FORCES -- President Putin reportedly is supporting plans to cut the size of Russia's Armed Forces by a third, from 1.2 million men to 800,000. If the plan is implemented, the Russian army would lose 180,000 men, the navy more than 50,000 and the air force about 40,000. There would also be further cuts in the number of border guards, railway troops and Interior Ministry troops over the next three years. The vaunted Strategic Rocket Forces, which control Russia's land-based nuclear missiles, would be drastically reduced in size and put under the control of the air force by 2006. The rocket forces would lose ten missile divisions, according to unidentified sources quoted by the AVN news agency. The plan is to move towards a smaller, more professional military, and presumably, to reduced strategic pretensions. It may be remembered in context that the GDP of the current Russia is smaller than Portugal's. The source of the Russian Defense Ministry leak was unknown, but it is known that President Putin held closed talks on military cuts on August 11, the day before the Kursk sank. It is also known that General Anatoli Kvashnin, who aspires to Marshall Sergeyev's position as Minister of Defense, triggered a rare public controversy last month by advocating radical cuts in the rocket forces to release funds to modernize the army. Marshal Sergeyev called him "criminally insane" and both were summoned by President Putin for a show of reconciliation. If the reports of the current proposals are valid, and are approved and enacted by the Duma, they would be a defeat for Igor Sergeyev, who, as a former commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, has defended their independence. ( London Times Sept 8.2000 // Giles Whittell/Moscow) (Jonkers)

US PROVIDES RUSSIA WITH SECRET DETAILS ON KURSK SINKING -- President Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel R. Berger, has provided his Russian counterpart with a written summary of what American naval and intelligence officials believe caused the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk to sink last month in the Barents Sea. The summary, based on acoustic recordings and other information gathered by two American submarines and a surface vessel in the Barents at the time, included evidence that contradicts assertions by some Russian officials that the Kursk sank after a collision with another sub or a World War II-era mine. "In response to a request from the Russian government, Mr. Berger provided some information to Mr. Ivanov on our knowledge regarding the tragedy," said P. J. Crowley, a spokesman for the National Security Council. The decision to share information on the Kursk was unusual, given that it was gathered by one of the most secretive parts of the American military, the submarine fleet. Mr. Crowley declined to discuss what information was shared, except to say that it was in an unclassified form. But Itar-Tass, the Russian news agency, quoted Mr. Ivanov as saying the information included technical details on "the exact times, to the second, of two explosions" that wrecked the Kursk. American officials have said the explosions - recorded by the Memphis, another American sub reported to be the Toledo and a surveillance ship, the Loyal, - strongly suggest that the Kursk sank after a catastrophic accident in its hull and not because of a collision. Following that theory, a rocket- propelled torpedo being loaded or launched as part of an exercise misfired, with its engine or its fuel exploding. Two minutes and 15 seconds later, a larger explosion of the torpedo warhead tore a gaping hole in the sub's bow. (NY Times 7 Sep2000// S.T. Myers

NRO DIRECTOR STRESSES NEED FOR SPACE RADAR SYSTEM -- National Reconnaissance Director Keith Hall expressed his disappointment that Congress had disapproved the Discover II space-based radar program and stressed that, in his view, the nation cannot afford separate programs to serve national and military needs. "We can't afford one for the intelligence community and one for the military . . the nation can afford one very good space-based radar system." The Discoverer II program was to demonstrate the feasibility of putting between 18 and 27 small satellites into a low-Earth orbit to detect and track moving targets on the earth's surface at an affordable price. The demonstration phase involved building and launching two experimental satellites, at around 60% scale, in March 2001, for 12 months. Congress effectively terminated the project by cutting its budget request of $129 million, but left $30 million for technology development work. Although the $30 million was placed in the NRO budget, Hall said he has not yet seen the proposals on where to allocate the dollars. But, he said, more efficient transmit and receive (TR) modules, antenna technology, and "technologies that would allow us to reduce the costs of these systems" are likely to be included. The group is looking well into the future, to 2010 and beyond, and this would mean putting Moving Target Indicator, Synthetic Aperture Radar and Digital Terrain Elevation in one platform, he said. Hall compared the program to the Space Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, which he said began as an integrated infrared collection architecture. By looking at all the requirements across the board, a single system was found to be cost-effective, resulting in a net savings of about $1 billion, an acceleration of the program and a better capability. "I think the same thing applies on the space-based radar front," he commented. "The satellites themselves don't know whether they are collecting intelligence or military phenomenology, and it behooves us to try and design one good one that meets all of the needs." Aerospace Daily September 7, 2000 // L. de France (Jonkers)

NORTH KOREAN INVASION THREAT WARNING REPORT -- An intelligence report prepared by the U.S. military command here warns of a rising North Korean threat, appearing to contradict the optimism generated by the June summit talks between the leaders of South and North Korea. The North has ''an offensive military capability designed to prosecute a short and violent war,'' according to a document titled ''North Korean Threat'' that was compiled by the intelligence section of the U.S. command here. North Korean troops, the report said, could overwhelm South Korean and U.S. troops ''and occupy the Korean Peninsula'' before reinforcements arrived from the United States. State Department officials denied that the view of the U.S. military command conflicted with statements of complete support for South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's efforts at rapprochement. ''No one has ever minimized the existence of a potential military threat,'' a State Department spokesman in Washington said this week. ''Their million men under arms haven't gone away.'' The goal, he said, is ''reduction in tensions.'' Explaining the apparent difference in emphasis between U.S. military and diplomatic officials, a U.S. military analyst described the State and Defense departments as ''different institutions with understandably different priorities.'' U.S. military analysts have cited what they say is ''a high level of activity'' by North Korean military units since the summit meeting. A veteran analyst who asked not to be identified said that the summit talks had had no impact on North Korean military behavior. He saw nonstop North Korean exercises as fitting in with a pattern that has puzzled and alarmed the command here in ''an unusually active year'' for North Korean forces. Over the past few years, the U.S. report said, the North has steadily moved military units south toward the Demilitarized Zone so that ''today, 70 percent of all combat forces are south of a line between Pyongyang and Wonsan or 100 kilometers from the DMZ.'' The impetus for leaking or publication of the army intelligence assessment appears to be done to put some pressure on the South Korean president not to make too many or too sweeping concessions on such things as US troop deployment or joint exercises and wargames with the Korean army etc. in his rapprochement with President Kim of North Korea.  Intl HeraldTrib 8 Sep 2000 p.1 // D. Kirk (Jonkers)


THE KURSK IS DOWN -- The Kursk, K-141, an Antyev type 949A nuclear attack submarine, one of eight active Oscar II class submarines, went down with all hands in the Barents Sea on a windy Saturday in August. Commissioned in 1995, it was the pride of the Russian navy and the leading edge of the new Northern Fleet. The Kursk's wartime mission was to counter and kill carriers and submarines. It sank during a training exercise, watched by a small crowd of interested international observers, including two U.S. Los Angeles attack submarines, reportedly loitering in the shallow polar sea over 50 miles from the Kursk. That fateful morning the Kursk is said to have completed a successful firing of her main killer, the Chelomey Granit missile, NATO code-named SS-N-19 Shipwreck. The Kursk and her sister boats can carry 24 Shipwreck missiles, containing a 1,600-pound conventional warhead. On the fateful Saturday morning, it reportedly scored a direct hit against a Russian hulk target over 200 miles away. It may be noted that the Shipwreck missile can also be targeted against cities. Russian naval sources indicate that the Shipwreck missile can be armed with an H-bomb warhead equal to one half million tons of TNT. On Saturday, in the dim afternoon light of the arctic summer sun, the Kursk began her last performance, the simulated destruction of a submarine using the 100-RU Veder missile. The Veder, NATO code-named SS-N-16A Stallion, is a rocket-boosted torpedo. The Stallion is fired from the submarine's torpedo tube but flies like a missile. The Stallion rocket booster ignites underwater after the weapon is clear of the submarine, sending the missile to the surface. The missile then flies to the target area under rocket power where it ejects a lightweight mini-torpedo at supersonic speed. The mini-torpedo uses its own little parachute, slowing its speed to drop gently into the water directly above the target, then homes in on the target submarine for the final kill. The conventional Stallion fired by the Kursk was armed with a mini-220 pound explosive warhead. Jane's Defense reports that the missile can also be armed with a mini-nuclear warhead equal to 200,000 tons of TNT. Seismologists in Norway told Jane's that a monitoring station registered two explosions at the time the Kursk sank. The first registered 1.5 on the Richter scale. A second, stronger explosion measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, equivalent to one to two tons of TNT, was recorded just over two minutes later. It is conjectured that the Stallion rocket motor may have ignited inside the sealed torpedo tube just before firing, causing the Stallion to jam itself inside the torpedo tube as it was fired. In any event, the underwater rocket appears to have ignited inside the inner manned pressure hull. Then the small 220-pound warhead exploded, blowing a gaping hole in the twisted skin of the attack submarine. The submarine immediately fell forward as the icy water rushed to fill the forward weapon bay. The last moments of the Kursk and most of her crew were filled with fire and ice as the vessel plunged into the cold arctic depths. The rush of cold water did not extinguish the fire since the Stallion rocket booster was designed to burn without air. The exploding warhead would have sent huge flaming chunks of the rocket booster into the forward weapon control room. The force of the 14,000-ton submarine striking the bottom on the damaged torpedo bay was the final blow, detonating one of the many weapons inside upon impact. The force of the explosion inside the twin hull submarine ripped the starboard side open back to the sail. The manned areas forward of the reactor compartment, including the control room and living quarters, rapidly flooded, leaving no time for personnel in those compartments to escape. (E. Milligan)

U.S. UNPREPARED FOR BIO-TERRORISM -- The technology to manufacture biological weapons of mass destruction is now widely available through open literature and the United States is unprepared to cope with a bio-terrorist attack, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies. "100 grams of anthrax properly dispersed downwind over Washington, D.C., could kill between 150,000 and three million people in the surrounding areas. This would produce fear and panic all over the country." "These weapons of mass destruction are potentially a way around U.S. military power. They could, for example, destroy overseas bases during a U.S. forward deployment" such as Kosovo in 1999. "This is the age of big biology, of unbelievable breakthroughs in the search for medical miracles, but this goes hand in hand with the tools to make ever more virulent weapons." No U.S. city has the capacity for a mass casualty situation. Out of 5,000 hospitals in the United States, 30 percent are losing money. A thousand hospitals have closed in recent years as they went broke. In the case of an epidemic, security staffs and cafeteria employees would take off in droves, just as was the case in 1994 during the plague outbreak in Surat, India. In short, a biological attack could push any nation beyond the point of recovery. (UPI 22 Aug 00//O'Toole) (Jonkers)


BRITISH DEFENSE DEPARTMENT COMPUTER EQUIPMENT THEFTS -- The UK Minister for Defence, John Moore, today said that he would be insisting on improvements to security of his Defence Department computer equipment. Over an eighteen month period from January 1999, 273 computers have been stolen or lost. Of the 55,000 desktop PC's used by 86,000 Defence personnel, this represents a loss rate of less than one-third-of-one percent (0.3%). 129 of the missing units are portable notebook PCs, which represents 1.8% of the 7,000 notebooks used across Defense. "While I am advised that the portable computer loss rate in the private sector is much higher at between 10% and 15%, any misappropriation of Defence assets remains of serious concern," Mr Moore said. One supposes, not to even speak of the losses in security. (Levine Newsbits, 09/06 ) (< http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/mintpl.cfm?CurrentId=144 >)


HIROHITO AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN JAPAN by Herbert P. Bix (a Harvard historian now teaching at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo), (HarperCollins), was reviewed in The Economist of September 2nd 2000. With a headline "A God dethroned" the author of "Hirohito" says that even now Japan stands in puzzling contrast to Germany in its reluctance to acknowledge guilt for its monstrous wartime actions--first in China and then throughout the Pacific theatre during the merciless campaigns of 1931-1945. Among the main reasons for this relative silence is one that is rarely acknowledged: a deep and enduring ambivalence towards the figure of Hirohito, the man who ruled Japan during its most destructive adventure in perhaps four centuries. Thanks to the personal intervention of General MacArthur, the military ruler of occupied Japan, Hirohito narrowly avoided indictment as a war criminal. By exonerating the emperor, the American hoped to relieve the Japanese people themselves of any shared sense of responsibility, so making it easier, in his view, to rebuild and pacify a shattered, hostile country. Many loyal Japanese did conclude that, if the emperor was blameless, so were they. (James Webb covers this brilliantly in his novel "The Emperor's General".) The question of guilt has nevertheless continued to nag at Japan's national conscience, according to the author. Was Hirohito a mere imperial puppet manipulated by a military elite? Or was he truly a commander-in-chief, ready-to, even eager-to, go to war against the foreign interlopers in Asia, Britain, the Netherlands and the United States. The author argues that Hirohito had better sources of intelligence than many of his commanders and his omnipresence influenced every aspect of the war, and that, therefore, he bears responsibility for Japan's actions. Could Hirohito have averted the reckless calamity of total war? Mr Bix believes he could have, easily, and that he stubbornly prolonged it, blithely accepting hundreds of thousands of needless deaths among his own citizens and soldiers in a last-ditch bid to cling to power and protect the monarchy. In the end, the nuclear horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with the Soviet entry into the war, provided Hirohito with the cover he needed to accept surrender. Japan's record of cruelty in their campaigns is a matter of record. Who should bear the burden of guilt for the wartime cruelties by most parties in most wars, in one form or another, is a continuing academic and political exercise. Some pay the penalty, others, have a more kindly fate -- like Hirohito, who has lived a reinvented life as a doting father, kindly monarch and mildly eccentric collector (courtesy Bob Finneran) (Jonkers)


PERSPECTIVES CHANGED: At the time of Pearl Harbor the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced "sink us"); the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th. Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika." All three were soon changed.

WINs contain intelligence commentaries derived from open-source information and are produced and edited by Roy Jonkers for AFIO members and subscribers. Associate editors Don Harvey and John Macartney contribute articles. The underlying source material may be copyrighted and all rights are retained by the original author/publisher. The information is provided to you for non-profit research and educational purposes.

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