Dear Members and Friends,
Today, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved the nomination of Dr. Ashton Carter as the next U.S. Secretary of Defense. This approval sets the stage for his formal confirmation by the United States Senate at large in a vote to take place in the next few days.
Dr. Ash Carter expressed a strong commitment to the United States Senate Armed Services Committee to ensure our homeland and regional missile defenses have the capability and capacity to deal with the ballistic missile threats facing our nation, our forward deployed forces and allies.
“Ballistic missiles that threaten the United States, that is one of the reasons that we need to keep our missile defenses and especially our ICBM defenses current, capable and large enough in size to deal with both the perspective Iranian threat and the also very real North Korean ICBM threat.”
-Dr. Ashton Carter
Secretary of Defense Nomination Hearing
February 4, 2015
Dr. Carter also expressed commitment to missile defense in his written responses to policy questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee during the confirmation process.These are his responses:
On dealing with ballistic missile threats from North Korea:
Dr. Carter: If confirmed, I will continue efforts to strengthen our strong defense posture against the North Korean ballistic missile threat. This includes supporting our current efforts to increase the number of ground-based interceptors in California and Alaska, enhancing DoD’s ability to highlight and disrupt the illicit proliferation networks that North Korea uses, and promoting cooperation with partners to interdict vessels and aircraft suspected of transporting items of proliferation concern.
The FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act expresses the Sense of the Congress that it is a national priority to defend the United States homeland against the threat of limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate).
Do you concur with Congress on this fundamental point?
Dr. Carter: Yes.
Do you support each of the following steps – currently planned by the Department of Defense — for improving the capability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System to meet evolving ballistic missile threats (if not, please explain why):
1) Correct the problems associated with recent flight test failures;
Dr. Carter: Yes.
2) Enhance homeland defense sensor and discrimination capabilities;
Dr. Carter: Yes.
3) Redesign the exo-atmospheric kill vehicle, including realistic testing; and
Dr. Carter: Yes.
4) Design a next generation exo-atmospheric kill vehicle to take full advantage of improvements in sensors, discrimination, kill assessment, battle management, and command and control, including the potential to engage multiple objects?
Dr. Carter: Yes. Forward deployed U.S. military forces, and our regional allies and partners, face a growing regional ballistic missile threat, especially from nations such as North Korea and Iran. The European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) is intended to provide increasing levels of defensive coverage of NATO Europe against Iranian ballistic missiles, including an Aegis Ashore site in Romania in 2015 and one in Poland in 2018.
Do you agree that it is a priority to defend our forward-deployed forces, our allies, and partners from the threat of regional ballistic missiles?
Dr. Carter: Yes. Our deployed forces as well as our allies and partners in the Middle East and in the Asia/Pacific region are within range of hundreds of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
I agree that the United States must prioritize capabilities to deter regional adversaries from launching a ballistic missile attack and to defend against such an attack if necessary.
Do you believe that the current phased and adaptive approach to regional missile defense is appropriate to meeting the operational needs of our regional combatant commanders, given the threat and current resource constraints?
Dr. Carter: Yes. I understand the current U.S. policy is to develop regional approaches to ballistic missile defense in Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region that are tailored to the unique deterrence and defense requirements of each region.I believe that such approaches provide the best option for managing our own high-demand, low-density ballistic missile defense forces and for developing allied and partner ballistic missile defense capacity in support of Combatant Commander requirements.
Do you believe the EPAA schedule is achievable and appropriate for defending NATO Europe against the current and projected threat from Iranian regional ballistic missiles?
Dr. Carter: I believe the three phases of the EPAA were constructed to allow the United States to deploy existing or new capabilities in time to meet the projected threat from Iran. If confirmed, I will review the progress on this effort with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.
Do you agree that the U.S. should encourage our regional allies and partners to increase their missile defense capabilities to contribute to regional security and help reduce the burden on U.S. forces and requirements?
Dr. Carter: I understand that building international cooperation and seeking appropriate levels of partner contributions are key tenets of our regional ballistic missile defense policy. I also understand that over time we have developed substantive ballistic missile defense relationships with our allies and partners in Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region, which have led to advances in fielding our own capabilities as well as those of our allies and partners.
I view continuing these partnerships as critical to developing effective security architectures that deter and, if necessary, can be used to defend against the threat of ballistic missile attack. Accordingly, if confirmed, I will promote strong bilateral and multilateral ballistic missile defense cooperation in these key regions of U.S. interest.
We look forward to Dr. Ash Carter turning his statements into actions during his tenure as the 25th Secretary of Defense of the United States.
A man is as good as his word.
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.