Dear Members and Friends,
This week in Huntsville, Alabama was a gathering of the highest ranking U.S. military generals who directly oversee missile defense with the U.S. industrial base that develop and produce all the missile defense systems for the U.S. military. This conference enabled proactive communication of expectations and explanations of the current Administration’s positioning on Missile Defense and a strategic vision different than the previous Administration that the U.S. military projects to implement.
General James E. “Hoss” Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advocated passionately for the elimination of nuclear weapons against emerging proliferating nations and for U.S. extended deterrence to work for the next 50 years a non-nuclear offense and a missile defense that must be able to devalue and deter these nations. General Cartwright further brought up in this context the relevance and irrelevance of current and future systems. This position by General Cartwright correlates with President Obama’s desire to reduce nuclear weapons as well as support regional missile defenses.
The biggest departure of strategy from the previous Administration is the omission in this conference of any discussion of the third missile defense site in Poland and the Czech Republic. A strong case was made by General Kevin P. Chilton, US Strategic Command Commander, that strategic stability between the U.S. and Russia and the U.S. and China are the top priority for the command and as to prevent incentives to be unstable. In China’s case who feel strategically stable with the US, that they don’t develop and deploy more strategic nuclear missiles. Thereby stating who is the US missile defense capability is aimed at and not aimed at, clearly defining that it is not aimed at Russia or China. Furthermore, General Chilton presented Russia’s strategic sensitivities to the third site in Poland moving in a direction away from deployment there.
One alternative solution that was referenced in many of the discussions as well as presented by Lt General Patrick O’Reilly, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, is the concept of land-basing the SM3 and Aegis sea-based missile defense system and integrating it with current missile defense sensors and with new sensors such as remote UAVs, and space-based sensors such as the STSS (Space Tracking Surveillance System). This would enable the system if placed in geographic desired locations and with further development to engage to intercept in the early ascent phase of a threatening ballistic missile thereby expanding the defended area considerably. This solution uses the commonality of the Aegis SM3 system that NATO and other European nations have incorporated and the testing history success of a proven system which aligns with the administration’s position on missil e defense. The land-based SM3 could alleviate some of Russia’s concern on the third site due to range and placement of those sites. The system would first be placed in Israel and additional land-based SM3’s will likely be placed in Turkey or the Balkan nations if an international agreement could be attained. The placement in Turkey and the Balkans could potentially have the ability to protect the U.S. homeland on early assent intercepts of ballistic missiles from Iran.
An additional and new solution pursued and presented by the industrial complex this week was a mobilized two-stage ground-based missile interceptor designed for the third site in Poland so it can be placed where and when needed not just restricted to the European region.
The issues of concern of both of these proposed solutions is the reality of the political loss and its international consequences of the U.S. withdrawing its commitment and bilateral agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic. The ramifications to those countries, Europe, NATO and Russia are significant and long lasting. Also of major concern is the capability to have “high” confidence in protecting the Eastern United States seaboard particularly the South East from long-range ballistic missiles from Iran. This capability of a look shoot look shoot confidence is not available from the current deployed GBIs in Alaska or California. Thus a system must be developed and deployed for the adequate and equal protection of the U.S. homeland. Basing this national security priority on proposed systems and interceptors that are on paper rather than in the ground, unsecured international agreements as well as intelligence projecting that Iran won’t have a nuclear and ICBM capabi lity by 2015 is accepting high risk for our nation’s homeland and American public safety.
On another important note, the international cooperation with the United States on
missile defense has grown to 30 countries as announced by Lt General O’Reilly, Director of the Missile Defense Agency.
Within the next six months three major reports will come forward for the Administration that will solidify the statements that were reflected this week and they include the Ballistic Missile Defense Posture Review, the Space Posture Review and the Quadrennial Defense Review.
As General Chilton, stated “…a good defense requires a great offense.” We at MDAA would say a great offense requires a good defense!