Pentagon Looks to ’Phase In’ Missile Defense
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2010 Based on the Pentagon’s September 2009 review of U.S. ballistic missile defenses, military officials want to harness technology for a more flexible and adaptive defense architecture, the principle deputy defense undersecretary for policy said.
James N. Miller spoke to an audience of more than 200 missile defense experts here yesterday at the 8th Annual U.S. Missile Defense Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Miller said the United States needs to integrate its missile-defense technology with foreign partners based on various threats. Such an approach, he said, would be more cost effective and also help to reduce potential threats.
“This approach is adaptive in the sense that it relies heavily on other, more flexible capabilities that can be surged into troubled regions in times of crisis,” Miller said. “We know that based on the current threat, our supply of missile defense interceptors is going to have to be moved around from region to region as we build more capacity over the coming five to ten years.
“To date, there are thousands of ballistic missiles across the world, potential threat missiles, hundreds of launchers,” he added. “Roughly 90 percent of those missiles today have less than a 1,000-kilometer range … we only have a few-hundred defense interceptors deployed in multiple regions.”
In Europe, for example, the main defenses against potential long-range missile strikes against southern Europe are 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic, Miller said.
This offers some protection from missiles originating in the Middle East, but in a two-to-one engagement, he explained, the U.S. defense there is limited.
Iran’s expanding offensive missile capabilities is an issue of concern to the United States and its allies, Miller said.
“On the threat side, while Iran and others have not yet acquired or deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, the threat of short- and medium-range missiles has developed quickly [over] the past decade,” he said. “Iran already had hundreds of ballistic missiles that can range its neighbors in the region and in southern Europe.”
Meanwhile, Miller said, Iran “is actively looking to deploy missiles with even greater range.”
Adapting to such threats requires the United States and its allies to apply a template for its missile defense architecture, with the intent of using the best-existing technology available, he said.
“As more capable sensors are tested, proven and available, we’ll phase that technology into the account of the increasing range and complexity of the threat we face,” Miller said. “On the other hand, if a more complex threat does not emerge as quickly or fails to emerge, then the deployment of missile defenses can be scaled in response, and we can allocate resources elsewhere.”
In the case of Iran, it’s “highly unlikely” that the threat of Iranian missiles will be reduced or become obsolete, he said.
Because of this, the United States will employ a global force-management process to ensure missile defenses are tailored to meet threats in various regions, Miller said.