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An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:27 a.m. Pacific Time, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Patrick Harrower)

In the ambiguous times of democracy for our nation, strength is demonstrated to the international community with stability, peace, and deterrence. Last week, the United States proved the reliability of its nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force, in a routine launch of one of its randomly-picked Minuteman-III ICBMs performed out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, in Southern California.

On October 29, 2020, the Air Force Global Strike Command performed the ‘Glory Trip-236’ operational test. The unarmed Minuteman-III impacted in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, near SMDC’s (Space and Missile Defense Command) Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site (RTS), on Kwajalein Atoll, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“The highlight of the ‘Glory Trip’ is the launch and the anticipation of what is headed towards Kwajalein. At that point we know there is no turning back and that all our training and preparation is about to be tested.” – Michael Butler, RTS Mission Operations director; interview published on Nov. 4, 2020.

The United States maintains and demonstrates this ICBM’s reliability, confidence, and accuracy, in tests, multiple times a year since 1970, for the purpose of deterring a nuclear war, aggression, and coercion by nuclear power adversaries. These Minuteman-III ICBMs are launched, from Vandenberg Air Force Base to Kwajalein Atoll, on a similar flight path as the nearby-located Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI), are used in tests for Defense of the United States against North Korean ICBM targets — launched from Kwajalein Atoll.

The same sensor architecture for both the Minuteman-III and GBI test flights, from Vandenberg, is used for tracking, discriminating, and processing by the United States missile defense sensors on sea, on land, and in space. This designed efficiency enables more development, more confidence, and more reliability of the missile defense sensors for the United States homeland, against ballistic missiles.

The annual regularity of Minuteman-III testing from Vandenberg, to prove out confidence, accuracy, and deterrence credibility, begs the question of why are that same policy, resources, and priority not being granted to Ground-Based Interceptors currently defending the United States, which are equally or more important for confidence and reliability in the defense of the population of the homeland. Take the ambiguity out, it is all-inclusive Active Strategic Deterrence.

Thoroughly testing the existing deployed Minuteman-III ICBMs is the right thing to do now. Thoroughly testing the existing deployed Ground-Based Interceptors is the right thing to do now.

“Wouldn’t it be better to save lives than to avenge them? Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all our abilities and our ingenuity to achieving a truly lasting stability? I think we are. Indeed, we must.” – Ronald Reagan; Address to the Nation on Defense and National Security; March 23, 1983.

Mission Statement

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.