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5th Annual Missile Defense Conference
As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Washington, DC, Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Remarks by the Deputy Secretary of Defense

The Honorable Gordon R. England

5th Annual Missile Defense Conference

20 March 2007


Good morning! Thank you Trey [Lt. Gen. Obering] for the warm introduction!  


As Trey said, I used to be the Secretary of the Navy. The other day, someone asked me, what are the benefits of being the Deputy Secretary of Defense, over being the Secretary of the Navy. And I said: “[silence!]”   You got it! 


It is a pleasure to join the ballistic missile defense community today  – from MDA, OSD and the Joint Staff, Services, COCOMs and industry - for the 5th annual Missile Defense Conference.


I do thank Trey and the rest of the MDA senior leaders – including BG Patrick O’Reilly, and Dr. Patricia Sanders. It turns out that I’ve known Trey’s predecessors well… Lt Gen James A. Abrahamson… Lt Gen George Monahan... Ambassador Henry Cooper... LTG Malcolm O’Neill… Gen Lester Lyles... and Lt Gen Ron Kadish... They are all great leaders, and one of the main reasons the agency is so successful.


Since the last time I met with you, Secretary Gates has come on board. He’s a great leader – and it turns out he has a great sense of humor. He told me he was in a meeting recently, and the speaker was given 20 minutes to speak. And he said, “How can I possibly include everything I know about this very important topic, in 20 minutes?” And they said “Speak…. very…. slowly….” So I will go slowly today! 


I am pleased to be here at this very important conference – addressing one of the major security challenges we face today. In fact, America and our friends and allies now face a greater array of security challenges than ever before.


Terrorists have declared their intention to destroy our very way of life – and that of our friends and allies. If there is still any question about how ruthless they are – read the transcript of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who talks about the heinous acts he masterminded. If there is any question in anyone’s mind that the nation is at war – this should lay that doubt to rest. Today, America’s top operational priority is providing stability and making sure there is no place hospitable to terrorists, in Iraq and Afghanistan


A word about Iraq, before we turn to missile defense… This is a critical time for the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people. The goal we share with them is a peaceful, stable Iraq for all Iraqis; an ally in the war on terror; able to defend itself and to sustain itself economically. America’s strategy includes four pillars – security, political reconciliation, economic development, and regional diplomacy.  


On the security side, Secretary Gates said on TV on Sunday: “The Iraqis are meeting the commitments that they have made to us…the troops that they have promised are showing up. They are allowing operations in all neighborhoods. There is very little political interference with military operations. So here, at the very beginning, the commitments that have been made seem to be being kept.” As he concluded – “So far, so good.”


The way I say it is that we do have a few data points – they are not enough yet to draw a straight line, but they are encouraging. 


Of course, the strategy is not only a military effort – I usually say that security and economics are two sides of the same coin. It is essential to create jobs – real opportunities that keep “angry young men” out of trouble and give them a concrete stake in a shared future.   Just about an hour ago, I talked with the operational Commander in Iraq Ray Odierno, and with Paul Brinkley, about job creation. It’s very encouraging – industry is coming back on line, and people are going back to work and supporting their families.   


Meanwhile – America and our friends and allies could still potentially face state-based threats. The future courses of major powers like China and Russia are not clear, and they continue their sophisticated military modernization programs. Our job is to be prepared for the future.


Rogue states pose different and even more threatening challenges. Iran directly sponsors terrorist groups, interferes unhelpfully in Iraq, and continues to pursue nuclear weapons under the guise of a peaceful nuclear program. North Korea tested a nuclear device last October, and continues to threaten its neighbors and beyond. The United States is hopeful that diplomatic efforts will achieve results in both cases – but both states’ track records as proliferators suggest the need for vigilance….and preparation.


The end of the Cold War changed the calculus concerning the primary missile threat the United States faces – but in an increasingly proliferated world, the potential missile threat is more multi-faceted than ever before. In fact, the challenge has grown sharper since we met at this conference last year. 


In 2006, there were about 100 foreign ballistic missile launches around the world, compared to about 80 the previous year. 


North Korea demanded the world’s attention on the 4th of July last year, by launching several missiles into the Sea of Japan. One of them was a Taepo Dong-2 – an intercontinental missile possibly capable of striking the US. That test failed just after launch….but we know they’re still trying. 


In November and again in January this year, Iran staged coordinated, near-simultaneous launches of nearly a dozen ballistic missiles and rockets…and then they televised the launches to underscore the point. 


Last summer, Hezbollah – a Foreign Terrorist Organization supplied by Iran – launched over 4,000 rockets across the border into Israel. This is an enemy that targets civilians, and that hides among civilian populations and uses them as shields.  It’s the kind of enemy that we will increasingly face, everywhere in the world, going forward. 


I find it absolutely astonishing that anyone could be against missile defense, in today’s world. Just think of the devastation that WMD – with the right delivery system – could cause. As we go forward, the problem will be more proliferation, not less. While it’s still hard to make a nuclear device, scientific and technological know-how is increasingly available, even in rogue states.   You no longer have to be a Ph.D. to make use of the latest information. And globalization makes it easier than ever to move technology, even if illicitly acquired.  


We do know this: the best defense is to neutralize the threat. Effective missile defense is an integral part of America’s strategy for meeting the security challenges we face – from potential peer competitors, from rogue states, and from proliferation. 


America’s strategy for meeting the missile defense challenge is straightforward: to develop and field an integrated, layered missile defense system to defend the U.S., its deployed forces, and our friends and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges, in all phases of flight. It’s an integrated approach – it’s not piecemeal, individual programs. It’s the integration that makes the Ballistic Missile Defense System such a powerful tool, and such a powerful deterrent, for the nation.


We last met exactly one year ago today, and I’m pleased to report that since then, the team has made substantial progress!


Last July, the Ballistic Missile Defense System was put on alert for the first time in response to real-world events - the launch threat from North Korea.   From Japan to Alaska, our people and our systems were ready. America does have an initial ballistic missile defense capability in place – and it will continue to grow stronger. 


Fielding of the Ballistic Missile Defense System also continued at a vigorous pace last year:

·        5 additional ground-based interceptors at Ft Greely Alaska, and Vandenberg, CA, for a total of 15 – with another to be emplaced shortly.

·        A third Aegis engagement cruiser was added; the conversion of long-range surveillance and track Aegis destroyers to engagement destroyers continued; and additional Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptors were fielded.

·        The Sea-based X-band Radar reached Alaska last month, after training and exercising along the way from Hawaii. It’s scheduled to begin participating in test flights, including the target launch scheduled to take place tonight, from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

·        And the first land-based, transportable radar surveillance – the “system formerly known as the forward-based X-band radar” – was emplaced at Shariki Air Base in Japan


And the testing program continues to make solid progress across the spectrum – 14 of the last 15 flight tests have been successful – including testing against short- and medium-range missiles using PAC-3s and THAAD, and against intermediate and long-range threats using the Aegis SM-3 and ground-based interceptors.  Last September at Vandenberg, the long-range intercept by an operational crew of a target flying along a realistic and likely trajectory was particularly noteworthy. 


In missile defense, the US is blessed to have a number of staunch international partners. As we go forward, any conflicts we face will be about international partnership – it will not be the US, or any other single country, going it alone.


·        This year, the US worked with the UK - a long-standing partner – to upgrade the early warning radar at Fylingdales.

·        The US is working closely with Japan – another strong missile defense partner - to deploy PAC-3 missiles, the transportable land-based radar, and command and control systems. And Japan is upgrading some of its destroyers with the Aegis system.

·        Denmark has given the U.S. permission to upgrade the Thule Early Warning Radar on Greenland.

·        Last month, the first successful ballistic missile intercept by the joint US/ Israeli Arrow missile defense system took place. 

·        Promising areas for technical cooperation on missile defense with Australia have recently been identified.

·        Planning is underway for Indian participation at a missile defense exercise.


The most significant next step is establishing a missile defense presence on mainland Europe – an interceptor site in Poland and midcourse radar in the Czech Republic. Talks are underway with those two close partners, and both have expressed interest. 


This European site is about enhancing the defense of the homeland, and providing defenses for our forward-deployed forces and our allies, especially against emerging threats from Iran and the Middle East. Frankly, our European allies are also increasingly concerned, as they see Iran as a real potential threat. 


Unfortunately, leaders from the Russian Federation have expressed some reluctance – in remarkably strident language. The United States has been – and will continue to be – transparent with Moscow about missile defense plans. The facts should speak for themselves: the systems are not designed to counter – are not capable of countering – Russia’s missile capabilities, and in addition, they include no offensive capabilities. 


In fact, closer proximity with the Russian Federation could create new opportunities to increase missile defense cooperation– confidence-building measures like radar data-sharing, and joint missile defense testing. It is evident, however, that this post-Cold War bilateral relationship remains an evolutionary work in progress.


The Department’s most direct and constant missile defense partner is industry – including many of you here today, who provide both the muscle and the brain power for much of our common effort.  


At the end of the day, the most important partner for all of us, Government and industry – in missile defense and in general – is the U.S. Congress. Frankly, good strategy is only “interesting” – but not meaningful - until it gets funded. It is the budget that turns good ideas into action. 


That budget has to take account of both short-term operational requirements – like Iraq and Afghanistan – and longer-term strategic challenges. I worry – it’s obvious that in DC, some politicians are looking at Iraq through a soda straw, even though there are a lot of other challenges. It’s essential not to lose sight of the long-term picture, even while we prosecute the current war. After all, it is a lot less expensive to deter and dissuade, than to fight and defeat.


This year, the President’s defense budget request for FY 2008 includes $8.9 billion for MDA, as part of the Department’s strategic modernization. The MDA effort is absolutely vital, and has the full support of the Department – and the Department will continue to support it with the Congress. 


For years, MDA has led the Department in science and technology – but MDA has also pushed the frontiers in terms of organization. In fact, MDA is an organizational trailblazer for the Department. It is set up as a self-contained agency - Lt Gen Obering manages the entire program and its budget. 


Across DoD, we are putting together joint capability portfolios – linking programs and managing them at a higher level. That lets us increase integration, and eliminate unnecessary redundancies – it’s a more effective and efficient way forward. MDA is one of the “book ends” of joint capability portfolios, a stand-alone agency. At the other end is a simple coordination function – most portfolios will end up somewhere in the middle. MDA is a model… because it has worked so well. 


Every time I speak, I mention science and technology, because it is a deep concern. They are the foundations of our nation and our economy – not natural resources. It’s an area in which we can ill afford not to lead, but we’re losing our edge. The number of US graduates in the hard sciences is going down. So I appeal to every here today, to do what you can to get students excited about science and technology. It is vitally important for our children and grandchildren. 


One more comment – at the end of the day, it’s all about leadership. As I recently commented to one national leader, in the US we take polls to gauge popularity.   It’s extremely easy to be popular, if that’s your goal. You take the poll, and you do what it says. But that’s not what leaders do. Leaders do the opposite – they take people in directions they don’t want to go. Leaders are never popular until after they’ve achieved something.


Lastly, I do thank everybody who supports missile defense because they believe in it – including grassroots organizations like the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance and Riki Ellison.


Right after 9/11, a reporter asked a 9-year-old girl, “What is patriotism?” And this little girl – remember, she’s only 9 years old – said, “Patriotism is taking care of America”. I thank all of you for your own patriotism – and for everything you do, every day, to leave a safer and more secure world for our children and grandchildren. God bless you all.