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  • Missile Defense to be Tested, but Questions About U.S. Security Remain

    Iran's improved Sejil 2 medium-range missile

    The Missile Defense Agency is scheduled to test its Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor over the Pacific later this month. The test target it will be directed against is being designed to mimic an Iranian long-range missile attack on U.S. territory.

    This test is a valuable undertaking and will serve to educate the Missile Defense Agency and others in the U.S. government about important aspects of what is required to defend U.S. territory against such an attack. What the test will not reveal, however, is the extra level of protection that would be afforded to U.S. territory against Iran by fielding GMD interceptors in Poland, as well as the United States, under the Bush Administration’s “third site” plan. President Obama cancelled this third site option last September.

    Unfortunately, the Missile Defense Agency has never been precise in public about the advantages gained for protecting U.S. territory against Iranian long-range missiles from the third site deployment compared to relying solely on U.S.-based GMD interceptors. This goes back to the Bush Administration. To be sure, the Missile Defense Agency pointed out that the third site interceptors would protect both Europe and the United States against such missiles. Further, it has acknowledged that the existing interceptors in Alaska and California, absent the third site interceptors, can provide coverage of U.S. territory against the same threat. Nevertheless, it is fair to state that the Missile Defense Agency saw clear advantages for defending U.S. territory in going forward with the third site option. At least, the Missile Defense Agency said so at the time it was proposed. The third site proposal was never about defending just Europe.

    Accordingly, the outcome of this test should not be viewed in a vacuum. Whether the GMD interceptor successfully downs its target in this test will provide only a partial answer to the question of how well defended U.S. territory is and will be against an Iranian long-range missile attack. What policy makers need to determine, as well, is the extent to which an increased in the number and geographic distribution of GMD interceptor deployments will increase the chances of success in countering an Iranian attack.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Missile Defense to be Tested, but Questions About U.S. Security Remain

    1. DSmith,Gainesville F says:

      Has anyone studied a correlation between negative world oppinion of the United States and Americans and when CNN became the world news view of America?

      Even today with the outpouring of military help, donations of food, medical supplies, equipment and volunteers CNN critizes and blames deaths on the American effort. How many times do you have to hear US bashing to believe it?

    2. Robert, New Orleans says:

      While the Third Site has been canceled, President Obama did outline a new deployment timeline for missile defense in Europe. With the deployment of the SM-3 Block IB to land and sea sites, and eventually a land/sea deployment of SM-3 Block IIA's, the coverage offered to both Europe and the US will be better than that offered by a simple GMD system in Poland.

      Certainly there are political calculations that must be made for such an action, but assuming the President maintains the schedule, the US and in fact its European allies will be better off under such a system. Both Poland and the Czech Republic have signed off on the new plan, and fallout from the cancellation of the Third Site seems minimal.

      Even if the Third Site was deployed as planned, it did not allow for a "shoot-look-shoot" scenario on an incoming long range Iranian weapon in many scenarios, and therefore defense of the United States still relied solely on GMD interceptors based on US soil. Should the new timeline be met, we will have better coverage of Europe, a better crisis response with Aegis ships, and the same amount of American coverage.

    3. Pingback: Will The New START Undermine Our Nuclear Security? « A Nation ADrift-Why?

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