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Prepared Statement for the House Armed Services Committee Hearing on Ballistic Missile Defense
As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, House Armed Services Committee Hearing, Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Introduction

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on the Administration’s 2002 budget request for Ballistic Missile Defense.

Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: A rogue state with a vastly inferior military, but armed with ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, commits an act of aggression against a neighboring country. As President Bush sends U.S. forces into theater to respond, the country’s genocidal dictator threatens our allies and deployed forces with ballistic missile attack. Suddenly, almost without warning, missiles rain down on our troops, and pound into the densely populated residential neighborhoods of allied capitals. Panic breaks out. Sirens wail, as rescue crews in protective gear race to search the rubble for bodies and rush the injured to hospitals. Reporters, mumbling through their gas masks, attempt to describe the destruction, as pictures of the carnage are instantaneously broadcast across the world.

Mr. Chairman, the scene I have described is not science fiction. It is not a future conflict scenario dreamed up by creative Pentagon planners. It is a description of events that took place ten years ago – during the Persian Gulf War.

I have a particularly vivid recollection of those events. When Saddam Hussein was launching SCUD missiles against Israel, I was sent there with Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger to help persuade Israel not to get drawn further into the war, as Saddam Hussein was seeking to do. We saw children walking to school carrying gas masks in gaily decorated boxes -- no doubt to try to distract them from the possibility of facing mass destruction. They were awfully young to have to think about the unthinkable. With those missiles, Saddam Hussein terrorized a generation of Israeli children, and almost succeeded in changing the entire strategic course of the Gulf War.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first U.S. combat casualties from a ballistic missile attack. In the waning days of Desert Storm, a single SCUD missile hit a U.S. military barracks in Dhahran, killing 28 of our soldiers and wounding 99. Thirteen of those killed came from a single small town in Pennsylvania called Greensburg. For American forces, it was the single worst engagement of the Gulf War. For thirteen families in Greensburg, it was the single worst day of their lives.

Today, ten years later, it is appropriate to ask how much better able are we to meet a threat that was already real and serious ten years ago – and has become even more so today? The answer, sadly, is hardly any better. Despite this tragic experience, here we are, a decade later, still virtually not yet able to defend against ballistic missile attacks, even from relatively primitive SCUD ballistic missiles.

Today, our capacity to shoot down a SCUD missile is not much improved from 1991. We are still a year or two away from initial deployment of the PAC-3 – our answer to the SCUD, and an effective one – and many years from full deployment. Today our forces in the Persian Gulf and Korea – and the civilian populations they defend – have almost no means of protection against North Korean ballistic missiles armed with both chemical and conventional warheads. With no missile defenses, an attack by North Korea could result in tens or even hundreds of thousands of casualties.

To those who wonder why so many of the regimes hostile to the United States – many of them desperately poor – are investing such enormous sums of money to acquire ballistic missiles, I suggest this possible answer: They know we don’t have any defenses.

It cannot have escaped their notice that the only weapons that really permitted Saddam Hussein to make American forces bleed during the Gulf War -- the only weapons that allowed him to take the war into the territory of his adversaries and murder innocent women and children -- were ballistic missiles.

We underestimated the ballistic missile threat ten years ago – and today, a decade later, we are underestimating it still.

Mr. Chairman, the time has come to lift our heads from the sand and deal with some unpleasant but indisputable facts: The short-range missile threat to our friends, allies, and deployed forces arrived a decade ago; the intermediate-range missile threat is now here; and the long-range threat to American cities is just over the horizon -- a matter of years, not decades, away – and our people and territory are defenseless.

Why? The answer has four letters: A-B-M-T.

For the past decade, our government has not taken seriously the challenge of developing defenses against missiles. We have not adequately funded it, we have not believed in it, and we have given the ABM Treaty priority over it. That is not how America behaves when we are serious about a problem. It is not how we put a man on the moon in just 10 years. It is not how we developed the Polaris program or intercontinental ballistic missiles in even less time.

The time to get serious is long past. Today, the number of countries pursuing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is growing. The number of countries pursuing advanced conventional weapons is growing. The number of countries pursuing ballistic missile technology is growing. The number of missiles on the face of the earth is growing.

Consider these facts:

  • In 1972, when the ABM Treaty was signed, the number of countries pursuing biological weapons was unknown; today there are at least thirteen.
  • In 1972, ten countries had known chemical weapons programs; today there are sixteen (four countries ended theirs, but 10 more jumped in to replace them;)
  • In 1972, we knew of only five countries that had nuclear weapons programs; today we know of twelve;
  • In 1972, we knew of a total of nine countries that had ballistic missiles; today we know of twenty-eight, and in just the last five years more than 1000 missiles of all ranges have been produced.
  • And those are only the cases that we know of. There are dangerous capabilities being developed at this very moment that we do not know about, and which we may not know about for years – perhaps only after they are deployed.

For example, in 1998 North Korea surprised the world with its launch of a Taepo Dong 1 missile over Japan, with a previously unknown third stage. The intelligence community tells us this launch demonstrated a North Korean capability to deliver a small payload to the United States. North Korea is currently developing the Taepo Dong 2 missile, which will be able to strike even deeper into U.S. territory and carry an even larger weapons payload.

Other unfriendly regimes, like Iran, Syria, and Libya, are also developing missiles of increasing range and sophistication. A number of these countries are less than five years away from being able to deploy such capabilities. And these regimes are collaborating with each other, sharing technology and know-how.

The countries pursuing these capabilities are doing so because they believe they will enhance their power and influence; because they believe that if they can hold the American people at risk, they can prevent us from projecting force to stop acts of aggression, and deter us from defending our interests around the world.

If we do not build defenses against these weapons now, hostile powers will soon have – or may already have -- the ability to strike U.S. and allied cities with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. They will have the power to hold our people hostage to blackmail and terror. They may secure, in their estimation, the capability to prevent us from forming international coalitions to challenge their acts of aggression and force us into a truly isolationist posture. And they would not even have to use the weapons in their possession to affect our behavior and achieve their ends.

But we cannot be sure they would not use these weapons in a crisis. If Saddam Hussein had the ability to strike a Western capital with a nuclear weapon, would he really be deterred by the prospect of a U.S. nuclear strike that would kill millions of Iraqis? Is he that concerned about his people? And would we really want our only option in such a crisis to be destroying Baghdad and its people? A policy of intentional vulnerability is not a strategy to deal with the dangers of this new century.

While we have been debating the existence of the threat for nearly a decade, other countries have been busily acquiring, developing and proliferating missile technology. We can afford to debate the threat no longer. We are in a race against time -- and we are starting from behind. Thanks in no small part to the constraints of the antiquated ABM Treaty, we have wasted the better part of a decade. We cannot afford to waste another one.

Development and Testing

President Bush has declared his intention to develop and deploy defenses capable of protecting the American people, our friends, allies and forces around the world from limited ballistic missile attack. The 2002 amended budget requests $8.3 billion for missile defense.

We intend to develop defenses, capable of defending against limited missile attacks from a rogue state or from an accidental or unauthorized launch. We intend to develop layered defenses, capable of intercepting missiles of any range at every stage of flight – boost, mid-course, and terminal.

We have designed a program to develop and deploy as soon as is appropriate. Developing a proper layered defense will take time. It requires more aggressive exploration of key technologies, particularly those that have been constrained by the ABM Treaty. So we plan to build incrementally, deploying capabilities as the technology is proven ready, and then adding new capabilities over time as they become mature.

We have designed the program so that, in an emergency, we might, if appropriate, deploy test assets to defend against a rapidly emerging threat. This has been done a number of times before with other military capabilities, both in the Gulf War and in Kosovo. But barring such an emergency, we need to consider the operational deployment of test assets very carefully – because such deployments can be disruptive, and can set back normal development programs.

However, we have not yet chosen a systems architecture to deploy. We are not in a position to do so because so many promising technologies were not pursued in the past. The program we inherited was designed not for maximum effectiveness, but to remain within the constraints of the ABM Treaty. As a result, development and testing programs for defense against long-range threats were limited to ground-based components -- ignoring air, sea and space-based capabilities with enormous potential.

In order to accelerate the program, we must first broaden the search for effective technologies before we can move forward toward deployment. We must dust off technologies that were shelved, consider new ones, and bring them all into the development and testing process.

To do this, we have designed a flexible and strengthened research, development, testing and evaluation program to examine the widest possible range of promising technologies, of which there are many. We will expand our program to add tests of technologies and basing modes, including land, air, sea and space-based capabilities that had been previously disregarded or inadequately explored.

Notwithstanding the delays of the past decade, the capability to defend America is within our grasp. The technology of 2001 is not the technology of 1981, or, for that matter, 1991 – the year we suffered our first losses to ballistic missile attack by a rogue state.

Last Saturday we conducted a successful test intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean. [General Kadish has a short film clip of the intercept to show the Committee]. This successful test is another step forward on the long road to developing and deploying effective defenses to protect the American people from limited ballistic missile attacks. It underscores the point that today, ballistic missile defense is no longer a problem of invention – it is a challenge of engineering. It is a challenge America is up to.

ABM Treaty

To build on the success of this test, we will need successive tests that push the envelope even further, that are even more operationally realistic, and to begin testing the many promising technologies were not pursued in the past, but which have enormous potential to enhance our security.

This inevitably means that our testing and development program will eventually encounter the constraints imposed by the ABM Treaty. We are seeking to build defenses to defend the American people. The ABM Treaty’s very purpose is to prohibit us from developing such defenses.

Our program is designed to develop the most capable possible defense for our country, our allies and our deployed forces at the earliest feasible time. We will not conduct tests solely for the purpose of exceeding the constraints of treaty – but neither will we design our program to avoid doing so.

However, this administration does not intend to violate the ABM Treaty; we intend to move beyond it. We are working to do so on two parallel tracks: First, we are pursuing the accelerated research, development and testing program I have described. And second, we are engaged in discussions with Russia on a new security framework that reflects the fact that the Cold War is over and that the U.S. and Russia are not enemies. We are moving forward on both of these tracks simultaneously, and we feel the prospects for success in both cases are promising.

To succeed we need your help in both areas:

First, we need Congress’s support to fully fund the President’s budget request for further development and testing of missile defense. The ability to defend the American people from ballistic missile attack is clearly within our grasp. But we cannot do so unless the President has Congress’ support to expand and accelerate the testing and development program. This weekend’s test shows the potential for success is there. Let us not fail because we did not adequately fund the necessary testing, or because we artificially restricted the exploration of every possible technology.

Second, we need Congress’ support for President Bush’s efforts to achieve an understanding with Russia on ballistic missile defense. The President is working to build a new security relationship between the U.S. and Russia whose foundation does not rest on the prospect of the mutual annihilation of our respective populations that was the basis of the old U.S.-Soviet relations. That is not a healthy basis for U.S.-Russian relations in the 21st Century.

On his recent visit to Europe, President Bush had a good discussion with President Putin, and will meet with President Putin again shortly in Genoa. He has invited President Putin to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and has accepted an invitation visit President Putin in Russia. Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Powell are also engaged in discussions with their Russian counterparts. Secretary Rumsfeld had a productive dialogue at NATO last month with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Indeed, after their meeting, Minister Ivanov declared his agreement with Secretary Rumsfeld that "there are not only more threats facing us now in the 21st century, but they are multifaceted, much more so than they were in the past."

So our discussions with Russia are underway, and we have no reason to believe that they will fail. The question of whether we will violate the ABM Treaty in 2002 presumes they will fail. But there is no reason to assume we will fail; and if we succeed, the ABM Treaty will no longer be an obstacle to protecting the American people, our allies and deployed forces from ballistic missile attack.

We hope and expect to have reached an understanding with Russia by the time our development program bumps up against the constraints of the ABM Treaty. But President Bush has also made clear that a 30 year-old treaty designed to preserve the nuclear balance of terror during the Cold War must not be allowed to prevent us from taking steps to protect our people, our forces and our allies. We would prefer a cooperative outcome, and we are optimistic that such an outcome is possible. But we must achieve release from the constraints of the ABM Treaty.

Congress can have a significant impact on the outcome of our discussions with Russia. If Congress shows the same resolve as the President to proceed seriously with development and testing of defenses to protect our people, our friends and allies, and our forces around the world, it will significantly enhance the prospects for a cooperative outcome.

Conversely, Congress should not give Russia the mistaken impression that they can somehow exercise a veto over our development of missile defenses. The unintended consequence of such action could be to rule out a cooperative solution, and leave the President no choice but to walk away from the treaty unilaterally – an outcome none of us surely wants.

As I stated earlier, the current planned testing program is not designed with the constraints of the ABM Treaty in mind; neither has it been designed for the purpose of exceeding those constraints. However, as the program develops and the various testing activities mature, one or more aspects will inevitably bump up against treaty restrictions and limitations. Such an event is likely to occur in months rather than in years. It is not possible to know with certainty whether it will occur in the coming year. This uncertainty is in part the result of inevitable uncertainty of all research and development programs. Many of the early issues will involve legal complexities, which we will fully resolve through the treaty compliance review group.

For example, the test bed currently scheduled to begin construction in April 2002 is designed to permit the testing of a ground-based mid-course capability under realistic operational conditions. There will also be opportunities, while we are testing the Aegis mid-course system, to test the ability of Aegis ship-based radars to track long-range ballistic missiles. There will also be opportunities to combine the data from radars used in mid-course tests with the radars used to track short-range missiles. Will these tests exceed the limits of the treaty? In each case, there will be those who argue on all three sides of the coin.

We have established a process for resolving these difficult issues at the earliest possible moment. The Department’s ABM Compliance Review Group has been directed to identify ABM Treaty issues within 10 working days of receiving the plans for new development or treaty events. That process is already underway. The Secretary and I will be informed of whether the planned test bed, use of AEGIS systems in future Integrated Flight Tests, or concurrent operation of ABM and air defense radars in next February’s tests are significant treaty problems. This process will permit us to take them into account as early as possible as we pursue our negotiations with Russia on a new strategic framework.

By the time a planned development activity does encounter ABM Treaty constraints, we fully hope and intend to have reached an understanding with Russia. We would expect to identify such issues six months in advance. By that time, we will either have reached an understanding with Russia, in which case the question would be moot, or we would be left with two less than optimal choices: to allow an obsolete treaty to prevent us from defending America, or to withdraw from the treaty unilaterally, which we have every legal right to do.

However, even in the latter circumstance, we should continue our efforts to reach an understanding with Russia. But our goal is to reach an understanding with Russia well before that time. Such an understanding is in both countries’ interests. The end of the Cold War has fundamentally transformed our relationship. We ask for your support as we continue to work towards a cooperative solution.

If we agree that a cooperative outcome is preferable to a unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, then we need Congress’ full support for missile defense research and testing. We look forward to working with the Committee to build on this weekend’s successful test, and to ensure that we can defend the American people, our friends and allies, and our deployed forces, from limited ballistic missile attacks.

New Deterrence Framework

We are optimistic about the prospects of reaching an understanding with Russia, because reaching a new security framework is in both of our nations’ interests. The Cold War is over. The Soviet Union is gone. Russia is not our enemy. We are no longer locked in a posture of Cold War ideological antagonism. Yet the ABM Treaty codifies a Cold War relationship that is no longer relevant to the 21st Century.

The missile defenses we deploy will be precisely that -- defenses. They will threaten no one. They will, however, deter those who would threaten us with ballistic missile attack. We do not consider Russia such a country. Americans do not lie awake at night worrying about a massive Russian first strike, the way they worried about a Soviet first strike during the Cold War.

Our missile defenses will be no threat to Russia. Their purpose will be to protect against limited missile attacks from an increasing number of possible sources – but not against the thousand of missiles in Russia's arsenal.

Further, they will be just one part of the larger, 21st Century deterrence framework we are working to build. During the Cold War, our aim was to deter one adversary from using an arsenal of existing weapons against us. In the 21st Century, our challenge is not only to deter multiple potential adversaries from using existing weapons, but to dissuade them from developing dangerous new capabilities in the first place.

This requires a different approach to deterrence. Just as we intend to build "layered defenses" to deal with missile threats at different stages, we also need a strategy of "layered deterrence" in which we develop a mix of capabilities – both offensive and defensive -- which can deter and dissuade a variety of emerging threats at different stages.

Such a strategy would aim to dissuade countries from pursuing dangerous capabilities in the first place, by developing and deploying U.S. capabilities that reduce their incentives to compete; to discourage them from investing further in existing dangerous capabilities that have emerged, but are not yet a significant threat; and to deter them from using dangerous capabilities once they have emerged to threaten us all, with the threat of devastating response.

Just as America’s overwhelming naval power discourages potential adversaries from investing in building competing navies to threaten freedom of the seas – because, in the end, they would spend a fortune and not accomplish their strategic objectives -- we should develop a range of new capabilities that, by their very existence, dissuade and discourage potential adversaries from investing in other hostile capabilities.

Missile defense is one example. It has received significant attention because it is new – but it is just one element of a new deterrence framework that includes several mutually-reinforcing layers of to deterrence, including diplomacy, arms control, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation and smaller but effective offensive nuclear forces.

What The Program Is Not

We have discussed what the program is; we must also discuss what the program is not.

  • It is not an effort to build an impenetrable shield around the United States. This is not Star Wars. We have a much more limited objective to deploy effective defenses against limited missile attack. Indeed the change in the threat -- from the thousands of missiles in the Soviet arsenal to handfuls of limited missile attacks – makes deployment of effective defenses more realistic than ever before.
  • It is not a threat to anyone. It will be a problem only for those rogue states that wish to threaten our people, our allies or our deployed forces, with ballistic missile attacks.
  • It will not undermine arms control or spark an arms race. If anything, building effective defenses will reduce the value of ballistic missiles, and thus remove incentives for their development and proliferation. Since they will have virtually no effect on Russia’s capabilities, there is no incentive for Russia to spend scarce resources to try to overcome them. And China is already engaged in a rapid modernization of its missile capabilities, and will continue this modernization whether or not we build missile defenses. To the contrary, the Russians and the Chinese will be able to see that we are reducing our offensive nuclear forces substantially and there is no need for them to build up theirs. In this budget proposal alone, with Peacekeeper, Trident, and B-1 reductions, we will be reducing START-countable warheads by over 1000. We plan to reduce our nuclear forces no matter what Russia decides to do, but we believe it is in their best interest to follow the same path.
  • It is not a "scarecrow" defense. We intend to build and deploy effective defenses at the earliest possible moment. Those defenses will grow more and more effective over time, as we deploy an increasingly sophisticated mix of capabilities that provide "layered defenses" against all ranges of missiles at all stages of flight. The more capable the better, but the defenses don’t have to be perfect to save lives and reduce casualties. As imperfect as the PAC-2 system was during the Gulf War, there wasn’t a single ally or commander who didn’t clamor for more.

Will our defenses be 100% effective? Mr. Chairman, no defense is 100% effective. Notwithstanding the billions we spend on counter-terrorism, we failed to stop terrorist attacks on the Khobar Towers, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, or the World Trade Center. Yet I know of no one who has suggested that we stop spending money on counter-terrorism because we have no perfect defense. Moreover, defenses won’t need to be 100% effective to make a significant contribution to deterrence.

  • It will not cost the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. The money we propose to spend on missile defense is comparable to other major defense development programs, and comparable to other elements of our security strategy. We are proposing $8.3 billion for missile defense in 2002. That is still a large amount, but the consequences of the failure could be enormous.
  • It does not divert attention and resources from other, more pressing threats. Some have argued that we should not spend money on missile defense, because the real threat comes from terrorist using suitcase bombs. That is like arguing that you should not lock your front door because a burglar can break in through your window. Both threats are real -- but for the last decade, work on countering the terrorist threat has proceeded aggressively, while work on ballistic missile defense has been hamstrung by an obsolete theory. We are correcting that.

As we move forward with accelerated testing and development, Mr. Chairman, there will certainly be bumps along the way. We expect there to be test failures. There is not a single major technological development in human history that did not begin with a process of trial and error and many of our most successful weapons developments have been marked by testing failures:

  • The Corona satellite program, which produced the first overhead reconnaissance satellites, suffered 11 straight test failures.
  • The Thor Able and Thor Agena launch programs failed four out of five times.
  • The Atlas Agena launches failed 5 out of 8 times.
  • The Scout launches failed 4 out of 6 times.
  • The Vanguard program failed 11 of its first 14 tries.
  • The Polaris failed in 66 out of 123 flights.

Mr. Chairman, from these failures came some of the most effective capabilities ever fielded. Failure is how we learn. If a program never suffers test failures, it means someone is not taking enough risks and pushing the envelope. Intelligent risk taking is critical to any advanced development program -- and it will be critical to the development of effective ballistic missile defenses.

Conclusion

Mr. Chairman, let me conclude where I began. This threat is not fictional. It is not limited. It is not remote. And it is not going to disappear if one or another troublesome regime disappears.

  • If there were a war in Korea tomorrow, our best intelligence estimates are that North Korea missiles would wreak havoc on population centers and our deployed forces in South Korea, even if armed only with conventional weapons, and North Korea now poses a significant threat to Japan as well.
  • And we know that it is a matter of time before Iran develops nuclear weapons, and may soon have the capacity to strike Israel and some NATO allies.

Think about what kind of hearings we would be having three or four years from now if Iran demonstrates intermediate-range capability to strike Israel or U.S. troops deployed in the Gulf -- or if North Korea demonstrates the capability to strike the U.S. with long-range nuclear missiles. I, for one, don’t want to have to come before this Committee and explain why we ignored the coming threat, and didn’t do everything we could to meet it.

This is not a partisan issue. We do not now know whether the President who first faces a crisis with a rogue state capable of striking Los Angeles, Detroit or New York with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons will be a Republican or a Democrat. But we do know that individual will be an American. And that is how we too must proceed – not as Republicans, or Democrats, but as Americans.

Let future generations who look back at this period not see partisan bickering, but statesmen who rose above party to make sure America and its allies and deployed forces were protected against this real emerging threat.

Thank you very much.