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American Forces Press Service

Missile Defense Reviews to Focus on Current, Long-Term Challenges

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2009 – North Korea and Iran pose serious nuclear and missile proliferation concerns for the United States and other nations and will be major considerations in the U.S ballistic missile defense review, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

“The risks and dangers from missile proliferation are growing problems,” Lynn said. “The president has made clear that we will move forward with missile defenses. They're affordable, proven and responsive to the threat.”

Lynn joined other defense leaders in describing the ballistic missile threat and reviews of missile defense policy and planning under way to address current as well as long-term security challenges.

The recently initiated Ballistic Missile Defense Review and other related reviews, he said, will focus on challenges posed by violent extremist movements, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, rising powers with sophisticated weapons and failed or failing threats, Lynn told the panel.

Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that the global nature of the threats and the rapid pace of technological change imposes big challenges on any deterrent strategy.

“No longer will a monolithic, mutual-assured destruction approach deter our aggressors,” Cartwright said. “Our deterrent strategy will need to handle the rapid advances in technologies across a broad range of threats and conditions.”

Several broad principles will guide the efforts:

• Defending the United States from rogue states and protecting U.S. forces.

This includes more effective theater missile defenses and more capabilities to warfighters provided through shorter-range and mobile missile defense systems, Lynn explained. The fiscal 2010 budget request includes an additional $900 million to field more systems such as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ships and Standard Missile-3 interceptors to defend deployed forces and allies, he said.

• Preparing for emerging threats.

This effort calls for continued investment in national missile defense systems upgrades
and research and development to pursue new and more effective technologies to confront theater missile threats, Lynn said.

• Ensuring the effectiveness of U.S. missile defenses.

Lynn emphasized the need for robust testing, while terminating the troubled kinetic energy interceptor and multiple kill vehicle programs and returning the airborne laser to a technology demonstration program.

• Using missile defense as the basis for fostering international defense cooperation.

No final decisions have been made regarding missile defense in Europe, Lynn told the panel. However, the U.S. approach to missile defense there will be to seek cooperation with international partners, including Russia, to reduce the threat from Iran.

Lynn called ballistic missile defenses an important part of current and future national strategy that must be integrated into broader deterrence and alliance considerations.

“Missile defenses play a key role in both responding to current threats and hedging against future contingencies,” he told the senators. “As we move forward with missile defense plans and programs, the Department of Defense will ensure they are affordable, effective and responsive to the risks and threats that confront the United States, our friends and our allies.”

Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said the $7.8 billion requested for missile defense in the fiscal 2010 budget will support these endeavors.

This funding, he said, will focus on three areas of improvement: current protection against theater and rogue nation threats, the United States’ hedge against future threats and improving the acquisition of U.S. missile defense capability.

“Missile defense is expensive, but the cost of mission failure can also be very high,” O’Reilly said, emphasizing that the system must be both affordable and effective.

“The department is proposing a balanced program to develop, rigorously test and field an integrated [ballistic missile defense system] architecture to counter existing regional threats, maintain our limited [intercontinental ballistic missile] defense, develop new technologies to address future risks and become more operationally and cost-effective as we prepare to protect against the more uncertain threats of the future,” he said.

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