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 June 29, 2015

News: SpaceX Falcon 9 explodes moments after launch – A SpaceX rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station blew up June 28 shortly after liftoff.   Business: How serious a setback is SpaceX rocket explosion? – Elon Musk had never come face to face with that rule before — at least not in space travel —...
 
 

News Briefs June 29, 2015

Iraqi pilot in Arizona plane crash found dead Officials say the body of an Iraqi pilot who had been training in the United States and crashed in southern Arizona has been located. Iraq’s Defense Ministry said June 26 that search teams found the body of Brig. Gen. Rasid Mohammed Sadeeq at the crash site five...
 
 
Huntington Ingalls Industries photograph

PCU John Warner delivered to Navy

Huntington Ingalls Industries photograph A dolphin jumps in front of the Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John Warner (SSN 785) as the boat conducts sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. Navy ac...
 

 
navair-helo

HX-21 completes first flight with developmental electronic warfare pod

On June 8, 2015, a UH-1Y from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 completed the first test flight with a developmental electronic warfare pod.  The pod would represent a new tactical capability for U.S. Marine Corps rotar...
 
 

Northrop, Navy celebrate legacy of EA-6B Prowler

Northrop Grumman photograph by Edgar Mills The U.S. Navy’s last operational EA-6B Prowler, designed and built by Northrop Grumman, lifts off from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. in a ceremonial fly-away June 27 from its long time operational base. The Navy is retiring the Prowler after nearly 45 years of service.   The U.S....
 
 
Air Force photograph by Capt. Tania Bryan

NORTHERN EDGE provides environment for testing new capabilities

Air Force photograph by Capt. Tania Bryan Aircraft from test and evaluation squadrons across the Air Force line up on the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson flightline. Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint training exercise d...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>