Commentary

October 23, 2013

Missile Defense: An old idea uniquely suited for today’s global threats

Claude Berube
U.S. Navy Academy

Recent satellite imagery suggests that North Korea has greatly expanded its uranium enrichment capabilities. The nation just promised to launch more long-range rockets “soon.” And, reportedly, labs in Pyongyang are hard at work developing nuclear-armed missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
With the North Korean threat apparently mounting, it’s essential for the United States to continue investing in missile defense.

Missile shield technologies first gained attention in 1983, when President Ronald Reagan proposed a bold endeavor called the Strategic Defense Initiative. At the time, critics famously dismissed the prospect of intercepting incoming missiles as a “Star Wars” fantasy.

Although the technology didn’t exist, Reagan’s concept was sound, therefore it quickly spawned a wave of development projects.

During the first Gulf War, the United States unveiled one of these technologies with the Patriot missile system. With Patriot batteries in Israel and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. military was able to eliminate 70 percent of the scud missiles fired by Saddam Hussein.

Today, American missile defense systems continue to keep America safe, reassure our allies, and calm global tensions.

This past spring, for instance, when North Korea announced its decision to unilaterally nullify the 1953 armistice and threatened to attack its southern neighbor, the United States deployed a Navy destroyer equipped with the advanced “Aegis” anti-missile system. The move helped quiet the region, stifling further provocations by the North and preventing the South from taking any action of its own.

Recent tests have shown that technological progress continues apace. In May, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the U.S. Navy’s USS Lake Erie engaged and destroyed a short-range ballistic missile that was launched from Hawaii over the Pacific Ocean. This was the Missile Defense Agency’s 59th successful intercept in 74 tests since it debuted the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense in 2001.
Despite these strides – and the growing threats we face – missile defense is on the chopping block. In its 2014 budget request, the Obama Administration proposed cutting the Pentagon’s missile defense budget by about 6 percent.

These planned cuts are particularly surprising given that the Obama administration has also just announced a new joint anti-missile initiative with key allies across the Atlantic. The European Phased Adaptive Approach is expected to incorporate new detection and destruction techniques to keep our European allies safe from rogue missile threats.

These cuts will undermine the development of this system. Indeed, just this March, American defense officials canceled the final phase of another Europe-based missile defense initiative citing budget constraints.

We’ve made tremendous progress since Ronald Reagan first announced the Strategic Defense Initiative. Now is no time to choke off funding for these promising technologies. America must continue to invest in these systems to counter the growth missile threat presented by North Korea and other dangerous regimes.

Editor’s note: Berube, the author of “The Aden Effect” (Naval Institute Press, October 2012), teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a 2004 Brookings Institution LEGIS Fellow and a 2010 Maritime Security Studies Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The views are his own and not those of the Department of the Navy.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 28, 2014

News: U.S. has lost track of weapons given to Afghanistan - The United States supplied almost three quarter of a million weapons to Afghanistan’s army and police since 2004, but the military cannot track where many of those arms have gone, a new report found. Bill to improve VA has $17 billion price tag - A bipartisan...
 
 

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range. The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says...
 
 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded mission support services contract

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with a potential value of $205 million, to continue providing mission logistics services in support of combat brigades training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The contract covers one base year and two one-year options. Support will include the full range of mission...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>