Risky Business

July 15, 2009

Dear Members and Friends,

On behalf of our membership and true to our mission, MDAA has and will continue to develop and distribute educational one page documents on Missile Defense issues, policies and programs that summarize the position that we as an organization feel should be addressed. These one pagers or “White Papers” are distributed to opinion leaders and elected representatives throughout our nation. Enclosed below is a MDAA White paper that went into circulation this week.

Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama’s Administration have requested a drawdown of 32 percent in the 2010 fiscal year budget for the long-range ballistic missile defense system – a specific reduction from 44 ground based interceptors to 30 ground based interceptors – to protect the United States of America from long range ballistic missiles.

MDAA believes that this position of the Secretary of Defense places the security of the United States from current and future long-range ballistic missile threats to the nation and population at a much higher risk then it should be after the $13 billion US tax dollar investment in this system.

The threat from North Korea and Iran remains consistent. The ballistic missile launches from these two countries this year and has given them greater understanding and confidence. The countries are proceeding at a steady pace to improve their systems range, payload, staging and accuracy. They are making progress and are consistent with previous Department of Defense threat assessments that directed an acceptable risk of interceptors needed for the protection of the United States. Nothing has changed this assessment and calculus to reduce the long range ballistic threat capability to the United States.

Reducing the Shot Doctrine ‘look-shoot-look’: the amount of interceptors that are needed to fire at one incoming missile to assure success, reliability and confidence of the missile defense system. This number has been as high as four or more GBIs to one incoming missile to insure 90 percent plus confidence in a not fully mature system (GBI) that has been initially deployed while still being tested for its capabilities during its deployment. Nothing in the past year with the confidence in the reliability of the GBI system and its testing has shown the need to reduce the shot doctrine from a high number to a low number. A reduced shot doctrine of two shots or less to one ballistic missile has been suggested as a reason to reduce the 44 interceptors to 30 interceptors, thus significantly increasing the risk that assured destruction of a long range ballistic missile by the GBIs and potential anomalies of that system would be successful

What amount of risk is the Department of Defense taking against a known enemy and relying on a deterrent value of the long-range ballistic missile system rather than in the systems war fighting capability? In every war game using missile defenses that the current US military war fighters have participated in, every participating US military war fighter has requested more defensive missiles. Iran has achieved a successful space launch earlier this year placing a satellite into orbit. North Korea this year has come close to attaining a space launch but failed in its attempt in the third stage. Once these countries gain maturity on the technology and the correct design on long-range ballistic missiles, mass production of these production designs becomes eminent. The Department of Defense and the intelligence community do not know what those numbers could be and cannot control production of these missiles.

Accidental launch capability against unauthorized long-range ballistic missile launches needs to be factored in the overall calculus for amount of GBIs needed. There are more countries that will have more ballistic missiles and these countries may not have the controls to prevent unauthorized launches.

United States tax dollars have paid approximately $13 billion for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. The cost of deploying the remaining 14 missiles in silos on missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska is approximately $116 million. It is just 1 percent of the total expenditure to complete the system as designed.
This is a matter of determining what risk is acceptable and tolerable to our nation by not fully completing the deployment of the ground-based interceptors to protect us against future long range ballistic missile threats.

The American public continues to show overwhelming support at close to 90 percent for the need for missile defense and protection of their homeland. It would be risky business to put our nation at risk and not listen to the American public.

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