Dear Members and Friends,
Over the past week, Congress held three public hearings on missile defense plans for 2011 and beyond. Hearings were held by the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, the Senate Armed Service Committee led by Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and the Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) on Tuesday and most recently the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee led by the Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) on Wednesday.
During these hearings, the testimony of President Barack Obama’s appointees in the Department of Defense and the Director of the Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, exposed five fundamental elements of the administration’s missile defense plan:
1. Iran, with foreign assistance (North Korea), could have the ability to strike the U.S. homeland with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2015.
2. In the current administration’s plan, the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA), there will be a second shot capability based in Europe to defend the U.S. homeland from an Iranian ICBM in 2020. This is dependent on the development, testing and deployment, of a new SM-3 Block 2B missile and the integration that allows for early intercept by launch and engage on remote sensors including basing Aegis Ashore platforms in Europe.
3. The administration’s current missile defense plan for the defense of the U.S. homeland is to rely on 30 Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI’s), 26 based in Alaska and 4 in California until 2032. They would provide protection against a maximum of 15 incoming ICBMs, using two GBIs per ICBM with a shoot-look-shoot doctrine. Due to distance, parts of the eastern United States will not have the same confidence of protection from an ICBM from Iran as the remaining U.S. homeland.
4. There is a gap of protection and vulnerability against an ICBM launched from Iran at the U.S. homeland, especially to significant parts of the east coast, for a minimum of 5 years in the President’s plan for missile defense, provided that Iran acquires ICBM capability by 2015.
5. In regards to a hedge for the existent gap in protection from an ICBM attack from Iran against the U.S. homeland, Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly presented three options:
– Fully outfitting missile field 2 in Fort Greely, Alaska with GBIs adding 8 more GBIs to the existing 30 GBIs,
– Testing the two-stage GBI, the missile in June of this year, the same missile system intended to be deployed in Poland for the canceled 3rd site of the previous administration,
– Having additional shot opportunities, against an ICBM from Iran, with two-stage missiles.
The recent Congressional hearings on missile defense have made it abundantly clear to the American public that a gap exists in the missile protection of the U.S. homeland against Iran. It is also apparent that the administration’s plans to develop and deploy a hedge to fill that gap have not adequately been addressed. The administration needs to move forward with urgency for a robust testing and deployment plan of the two-stage GBI on or before 2015 to ensure the full protection of the U.S. homeland from Iran.
The protection of the U.S. homeland from ballistic missiles is the declared and stated number one priority of the Obama administration’s missile defense policy.