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John Rood (left) and Riki Ellison (right) at MDAA's Virtual CRT at MDAA's Office in Alexandria, VA on April 30, 2020.

MDAA’s first virtual Congressional Roundtable was held yesterday, reflecting on the 2019 Missile Defense Review (MDR) and its outlook for the future. Click here for both video and transcripts of the event. The format of our discussion was focused on four segments – intent and origin of the 2019 MDR from the National Defense Strategy (NDS), strategic operationalization of the 2019 MDR, tactical operationalization of the 2019 MDR around the Combatant Commands (COCOMS) Area of Responsibilities (AORs), and allied partnerships with the 2019 MDR.

“So why was the Missile Defense Review done? Because of the missile threat and the prominence of it in the international security environment. But in addition to that, you do see it’s important to us in dealing with great power competition to return and deepen our thinking on things like what does it take to practice effective deterrence in today’s world? Missile defense are core to that […] part of what deters an adversary from launching a missile at you in the first place is that you have an effective defense and you could defend against it” – John Rood, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, at MDAA’s Virtual CRT on April 30, 2020.

“In some areas where the United States has made security commitments to our allies, having the means to provide that kind of defense. The ability also where you see countries like Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, trying to deter us from being willing to come to the aid of our allies, or to push us out of what they believe are their regions, through anti-access area denial. Missile defenses make that not feasible when they are effective. Then you also have the need to hedge against uncertainties. We always talk about capability, the capability that potential adversaries possess, but there’s also their intentions. Intentions can change very rapidly. The time period required to develop these systems is measured in many years, so therefore having the ability to hedge against that is important.” – John Rood, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, at MDAA’s Virtual CRT on April 30, 2020.

“Then I think the other role that missile defenses play is they’re very stabilizing. One of the things that I’ve gotten a little concerned about in recent years is you’ve seen them slide back, some people talking about the need to preserve strategic stability as an overriding goal and worrying that defenses are somehow provocative. Being able to defend yourself might undermine stability. I think the opposite is very clearly true. The Missile Defense Review States that explicitly. Missile defenses have proven to be stabilizing.” – John Rood, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, at MDAA’s Virtual CRT on April 30, 2020.

“I think we to give greater priority to defense. Offensive hypersonic capabilities are very attractive. I support that very much. And I think there are lots of good reasons and we should be the world leader in that area. So it’s not to detract from offenses, but defenses need to be a part of this, and this is going to be a very challenging area. For those that might throw up their hands and say this is impossible, I don’t agree with that. So many things that were seen to be impossible, we just have knocked those down year after year after year in every domain and military area to include missile defense. And so we have to begin with the ability to track it, and here, going to space makes all the sense in the world to me to have the high ground. And we have to have a distributed architecture, survival architecture, resilient architecture to do that, that ideally we can upgrade rapidly because this is not going to be static. But we’ve got to get started on that.” – John Rood, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, at MDAA’s Virtual CRT on April 30, 2020.

The importance of the NDS as the overarching strategy was made clearly. Under that umbrella, the 2019 MDR was discussed in depth, with the point clearly being made that defense must coexist with offense; a holistic strategy formulation needs to take both into consideration.

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MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.