Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2017 —
CBS News “60 Minutes” showcased ballistic missile analysis by DIA’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center as part of a 13-minute segment on North Korean missile capabilities, Sunday, Oct. 29.
CBS News Pentagon correspondent David Martin and a camera crew visited MSIC October 11 to film unclassified interviews with MSIC officers working the North Korean ballistic missile issue. The CBS team also conducted interviews earlier in the month at the Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center for input into the segment. CBS merged the filming and interviews at MSIC and NASIC to examine the full breath of the North Korean ballistic missile threat, from short to long-range systems.
MSIC senior intelligence analyst Marie Cox gave a demonstration of a SCUD B ballistic missile, which was fielded by the Russians in 1961 and is the most widely-proliferated ballistic missile in the world. Cox explained the missile’s construction and operation and noted hardware similarities between the SCUD and what is being tested and deployed in North Korea. Cox also addressed the SCUD’s ability to carry nuclear warheads, how many missiles are thought to be in North Korea’s arsenal, and commented on similar SCUD missiles in service across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
“It is certainly unlike anything I’ve experienced before, and much harder than giving a classified briefing to even to a very senior customer,” Cox said regarding her “60 Minutes” interview. “Knowing my statements would be on-the-record and used as an authoritative reference in a national news story carries a great deal of responsibility, but is also an enormous privilege. I know my fellow citizens are concerned about North Korea, and need to know someone understands and is tracking the development of this threat.”
The crew also received a demonstration of a SCUD B transporter-erector-launcher (TEL). Senior intelligence analyst Steve Hancock walked CBS through the launch process, and explained how preventing adversary missile launches is a high priority for U.S. air power. He also answered questions on the survivability of the launcher, launch speed of the TEL and how TEL mobility impacts operations to find and destroy them before launch.
“It was fulfilling to be able, in some small way, to let the American people know firsthand that we are working hard within the Defense Intelligence Enterprise to protect them and our country,” Hancock said of his interview.
Highlighting the capabilities of MSIC’s modeling and simulation labs, CBS received a visualization of a notional salvo launch, missiles in flight and computer-aided design modeling examples.
Scott MacDonald, MSIC acting senior defense intelligence analyst for weapons analysis, discussed how modeling and simulation helps understand missile systems and defend against them. MacDonald explained the large amount of science, math and engineering that goes into building these models. He added MSIC works with a variety of intelligence sources to determine capabilities and performance of missile systems.
“It is a challenge to engage the media on the intelligence work we perform on a daily basis,” remarked MacDonald after the interview. “But it is important for the public to understand how we do our job to protect the nation. I am very honored for the opportunity to show off DIA’s capabilities to the American public.”
In a sit-down interview with MSIC Director Mark Clark, Martin asked about the mission and workforce of DIA and MSIC, and the North Korean ballistic missile threat, focusing on MSIC analysis of North Korean SCUD and No Dong missiles.
Clark explained how the intelligence gathered and analyzed by MSIC and DIA is used to inform leaders and warfighters, assist the Department of Defense in designing, testing, and operating missile defense systems and ultimately protect lives.
“So missile defenders are counting on [MSIC] and [its] data?” asked Martin. “Yes, absolutely,” replied Clark.
Martin also asked Clark what it takes to “know” a missile.
“You must know its physical characteristics, its performance, how it will appear to various sensors, its nuances, and its vulnerabilities,” Clark said. “That’s what it takes to hit a bullet with a bullet.”