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Missile Defense: A Crucial Defense for America

FEBRUARY 2011

  • The threat of Ballistic Missiles is growing.
  • Missiles are the delivery systems for chemical, biological, and nuclear warheads and in recent years have become the weapon of choice for an increasing number of actors who view them as an affordable means of offsetting the West’s military superiority.
  • According to the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report (BMDR), “Current global trends indicate that ballistic missile systems are becoming more flexible, mobile, survivable, reliable, and accurate, while also increasing in range.”
  • Dangerous countries such as Iran and North Korea have active ballistic missile programs. North Korean missiles can already reach Japan, South Korea, and U.S. bases.  Iranian missiles can reach Israel and Eastern Europe.
  • Competitors such as China are developing sophisticated missiles that can put U.S. ships and satellites at risk.
  • Deployed U.S. forces and Allies remain vulnerable to enemy missiles
  • Parts of the U.S. population remain vulnerable to an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) attack, too.
  • A direct hit is not the only danger.  A nuclear weapon detonated at the peak of a missile’s trajectory can cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), resulting in large scale casualties and economic devastation.
  • Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia all include EMP attack against the United States in their military doctrines.
  • The U.S. has a limited ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) that can defend against some types of missile attacks.
  • More missile defense is needed.  For example, the current BMDS is not prepared to protect U.S. coasts from missiles launched from ships.
  • Not only can missile defense act as a last defense, it can also deter states and non-state actors from developing and acquiring WMDs in the first place.
  • Polls show 88% of the American people support missile defense.
  • The overall missile defense budget should be protected from cuts.
  • The right missile defense program is made up of different kinds of systems that are each designed to defend against different types of threats. Each system uniquely contributes to the overall effectiveness of our defenses, and no one system is capable of defending against the entire range of threats. Congress must resist the temptation to cut the missile defense budget in one area to fund another.
  • America must invest in technologies designed to counter missiles in their boost phase of flight. Boost phase defense is the hardest to develop, but it is ideal for intercepting an enemy missile. This is because it prevents the missile from releasing countermeasures and decoys and destroys the missile before it leaves the atmosphere and is still over the aggressing country’s territory.
  • America must provide sufficient funding to sustain and evolve the only system currently able to defend the homeland against ICBMs: the Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.
  • The Obama Administration must ensure that the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) is deployed on time and before the threat of Iranian ICBMs has matured. Despite Russian opposition, it is critical go forward with the plan, as President Obama has said that it would.