Lisbon in the Sky with Diamonds

November 19, 2010

Dear Members and Friends,

Today and tomorrow, leaders of countries from the twenty-eight member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will meet in Lisbon, Portugal to vote on a new “Strategic Concept” for the alliance. This will involve defining the threat and coordination for a territory wide defense of NATO.

Russia will challenge the threat perception and the necessity of creating a further integrated defense of NATO. Russian President Medvedev, whose country is not a participating member of NATO, will have the opportunity to address the conference prior to the vote.

The vote, regardless of Russian pressure, will most likely produce a positive decision calling for NATO to build a fully integrated command and control system to defend all of its territory from air threats as well as cruise and ballistic missile threats. This system, without sensors or shooters, would initially cost close to $300 million; which would come from the common funds that NATO members provide on an annual basis. Participating NATO countries that have missile defense assets in existence and are developing them will look to provide the sensors and shooters as part of their annual NATO contribution.

The most prominent NATO member with missile defense is the United States whose major contribution will be the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA); a system based on mobile launchers, forward based sensors and two land based sites in Romania and Poland. U.S. Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) cruisers and destroyers would also be required in the Eastern Mediterranean, Adriatic and Baltic seas with possible future deployment in the North Sea. Initial deployment would be in 2011, followed by the first land site place in Romania in 2015, with increased capability in 2018 and 2020.

NATO members contributing missile defense operations include the United Kingdom (sensors), Germany (Patriot Advanced Capability-3, PAC-3 and Medium Extended Air Defense Systems, MEADS), Netherlands (PAC-3), Italy (MEADS), Norway (sensors), Denmark (sensors), Poland (Aegis Ashore), Romania (Aegis Ashore), and France (Sol-Air Moyenne Portee Terrestre, SAMP/T).

Other NATO members that will look for a positive vote as a sign to move forward on hosting missile defense assets furnished by the U.S. would be Turkey, the Czech Republic and possibly Bulgaria. Turkey will be particularly sensitive to Russian and Iranian views as the U.S. would ideally require a forward-based sensor located there to provide early tracking of Iranian missiles, possibly as soon as next year.

A NATO repositioning of its “Strategic Concept” in Article 5 of its charter is much needed as the world has changed since its founding. There needs to be a non-provocative solution against the growing threats that face NATO now and in the future; threats from the proliferation of short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

If positive, this Lisbon vote will be a strong message and endorsement of missile defense as a deterrent and an extended substantial U.S. commitment to Europe for its protection and peace.

Momentum from a majority vote in this conference could lead to the beginning of making a global missile defense system feasible and the decrease of countries desiring nuclear ballistic missiles.

Resource Library