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4th Annual U.S. Missile Defense Conference
As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, Washington, DC, Monday, March 20, 2006

“Missile Defense as an Element of National Security”

Good morning!  Thanks to Lt. Gen. Obering for the warm introduction.

Trey is a great guy.  Did you know that Trey is a student of Dr. Friedman, the famous economist? Dr. Friedman was teaching a class one day, and he saw that one of his students had fallen fast asleep.  So he marched over and demanded, “What was the answer to my last question?”

The startled student blurted out, “I don’t know the question, but the answer is increase the money supply!”

It’s also good to see another great American on the agenda – General “Hoss” Cartwright.  And I want to say thanks to him, too, for letting me be his warm-up act!

It is a distinct pleasure to be here this morning with the ballistic missile defense community – from MDA, other agencies, the Services, Combatant Commands, and industry.

You are the experts on missile defense, and I can't add anything to your knowledge in that field. What I can do today, is to put your work building a top-notch missile defense system into the broader strategic context of defending freedom and liberty for our Nation, and our friends and allies.

Our new National Security Strategy, released last week, stresses a very important theme:  we have never before faced greater uncertainty about future security conditions, than we do today.

This is a critical time for America.  America is fighting a war against dispersed networks of terrorist extremists.  They know they can’t succeed with conventional methods, so they use asymmetric means to challenge us and our allies.  Their goal is to break our resolve and shatter our way of life.  On 9/11, terrorists turned civilian airliners into guided missiles, killing some 3000 people of 60 nationalities.  The only reason they didn’t kill 30K or 3M was because they hadn’t figured out how to do it.


But the Long War against terrorist extremists is only part of the nation’s security challenge.

Hostile states or non-state actors could acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, to devastating effect.  And the nation also faces the possibility that a major or emerging power could choose a hostile course.

Today, we face a wide array of security challenges and concerns, and each is potent.

Where does a missile threat fit into this picture?   The answer is, “almost everywhere.”  26 nations currently have ballistic missiles, and there were nearly 80 ballistic missile launches around the world last year.

Iranand North Korea – countries that our new National Security Strategy calls “tyrannies” – continue to pursue longer-range ballistic missiles along with nuclear weapons.

Terrorists would obtain WMD if they could, and they’re trying.  As one of al-Qaeda’s ringleaders, al-Zawahiri said in 2001, “The need is to inflict the maximum casualties against the opponent…for this is the language understood by the west, no matter how much time and effort such operations take.”

The new National Security Strategy says, “The first duty of the US Government remains what it always has been:  to protect the American people and American interests.”

Missile defense was, and is, a critical part of our strategy for protecting America.  Both the new National Security Strategy and the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review underscore the need for a strong missile defense capability.

Missile defense is a central part of our broader national strategy, a strategy that can only be realized over time and with a great deal of hard work, and I thank you for your steadfast commitment to this task.

The NSS identifies the proliferation of nuclear weapons as one of the greatest threats to our national security.  Ballistic missile defenses provide a critical layer of defense for protecting America against the danger of WMD-armed missile attacks.
The Cold War-era, “one size fits all” notion of deterrence is no longer appropriate to the challenges of the 21st century. 
The updated, “New Triad” concept reinforced in the QDR provides a set of approaches that are more tailorable to a range of potential adversaries, and to range of missiles.  I expect that General Cartwright will have more to say on this subject. The new concept includes, as an essential element, an integrated ballistic and cruise missile system.
During the 40 long years of the Cold War, America maintained a steadfast commitment and resolve.

The threats our Nation face today will require the same commitment, the will and resolve that the American people demonstrated during the Cold War.  It’s not about a single President or a single Congress.  The Cold War commitment spanned Conservatives, Liberals, Democrats and Republicans and across many terms.  Although a Republican Congress opposed President Truman on many issues, the Congress and the President were united on the issue of national defense.  That same commitment and will is necessary today.

During the Cold War, the national leadership did continually revisit, and debate, and update our policies and strategies.  The Department will continue to do the same now, constantly testing assumptions over time, against real world events and conditions and updating policies and strategies as necessary.

I do congratulate you on your significant achievements.  The scope of the missile defense system is especially impressive. 

It brings together a broad spectrum of sophisticated technology, it integrates information on a massive scale.  It is international in reach.  In this regard, the missile defense organization is a lot like what we are trying to achieve with the QDR process.   Your team is collaborative, and since no one player has all the right technological expertise, you have to find ways to bring all of the expertise together.  This is one of the models being examined for the acquisition reform.

In the QDR, the Department as a whole is moving toward the use of “joint capability portfolios” as a way to make acquisition more effective.

As you continue to work on implementing your piece of the broader strategy, it is vitally important that MDA continue the trend line of success so far demonstrated.  The Nation needs this capability.

Developers need to continue to build in reliability and redundancy into our systems.
Producers need to continue to manufacture with high and consistent quality.
Testers need to set and maintain realistic and rigorous standards.
Operators need to know the operational business better than anyone in the world … be fail safe.
Leaders and managers need to continue to set the very highest ethical standards, to ensure the continued support of the Congress and the American people.
These are tall orders all around, but your results over the last few years have been very impressive, and the Department does have the highest confidence in your future success.

The Department’s strategic vision also relies on a truly Joint Force, whose constituent parts operate seamlessly and interdependently.  True global missile defense will involve complex joint operations among the Services and Combatant Commands.

Many people have pointed to recent operational experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq as great examples of fluid collaboration among the Services.  Jointness in missile defense is also a “good news story”.

This effort includes everything from deploying the Aegis cruiser, the USS Shiloh, to Japan later this year, to the transit of the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, to deploying the Forward Based X-Band Radar, to emplacing missiles in Alaska and California, to flight and ground testing … and that is hardly scratching the surface.

Missile defense also influenced the QDR in other areas.

This missile defense team has made positive progress in putting in place the right organizations and processes to do the job.

What this total missile defense team has done so far is an extraordinary achievement.  This program has been blessed by great leadership and great team members across the board.  Early on, I personally worked with Lt. Gen. Ron Kadish on the team’s organizational structure.

We conceptualized the national team concept and then formed a board of directors to pull it all together.  In only a few years, a strong operational system is in place.

Getting the organization right is something the Department emphasized during the 2006 QDR process.  In my judgment, this was the most inclusive and the most comprehensive review the Department has ever undertaken.  Frankly – don’t let this get out – I’m not entirely sure how we did business before.

In this QDR, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I chaired a body of the Department’s senior civilian and military leaders.

We used to call it the “Group of 12.”  But it’s now the Deputy’s Advisory Working Group … the DAWG.  It is an open, collaborative process, and each member brings a unique piece of expertise to the table.

Now, we did spend a lot of time in the QDR talking about capabilities.  But we also spent a lot of time talking about reshaping the defense enterprise itself – making it more agile and more responsive to our warfighters.  The “Group of 12” took a hard look at the Department’s business practices and methodologies and now we’re working the hard business of making those changes.

The goal is better effectiveness and, through it, better efficiency – we have to do the right things, and we have to do them right.  I can tell you that our work is still not finished.  The DAWG is continuing to debate and refine our approach.

Another area where you’re leading the way is in international partnerships.

Implementing and evolving the Nation’s strategic vision depends on unity of effort – bringing to bear all the elements of national power, and working in closest partnership with our friends and allies abroad.  No single Nation can stand up to today’s dangers and win alone.  Many of the challenges we face know no national boundaries, and meeting them requires concerted international cooperation and will. 

Missile defense is about defending our deployed forces, and our allies, as well as our homeland.

So it requires close policy and technical collaboration with our key partners around the world.  The daily work of this missile defense team reflects exactly the kind of strong, concrete international partnerships we are trying to foster and maintain.

Now, to be clear, the QDR is the Department’s long-term strategic vision.  The budget is the set of tools used, each year, to turn that vision into reality.  The QDR calls for shifting our emphasis to meet a broader array of future challenges.

That means that to implement the strategic vision, we have to make changes to programs and investments.  It doesn’t mean changing everything – it just means being thoughtful and deliberate about the decisions we’re making.

We are always under cost pressure – the entire defense program is under cost pressure, across the board.  If anything, those pressures are only likely to increase in future years.  So we do have to make hard choices.

One of the recent choices, as you know, was to continue working on an important laser system.  The Department’s senior leadership did decide to adjust the development timeline to the right.  The leadership is simply looking forward to more demonstrated milestones, and we kept the production dollars in the budget as a vote of confidence.

The Department’s critical partner in making hard choices and adjusting programs is the Congress.

Shifting our emphasis requires their support and cooperation, and we literally can’t do anything without them.  I’ve spent a lot of my time these last few weeks testifying about the long-term strategic vision in the QDR, and about the ‘07 budget that reflects some of the QDR’s vision.  I have been asking Congress for their support and partnership, but they do get to make the final decisions.

A comment on one last topic, Science and Technology.

Adapting and implementing our strategic vision means having the best, most advanced tools at our Nation’s fingertips.

This missile defense team is a technologically sophisticated group.  And that is critically important.  In the 21st century, science and technology are advancing more rapidly than ever before.

America absolutely has to stay ahead of the curve.  We need to continue to make investments in fundamental science, including some of the great projects associated with missile defense.  They might not turn out quite the way we expect, but they may also produce other real, revolutionary results, 10 or 20 years down the line.

America also, frankly, needs to expand its intellectual capital by training up the next generation of scientists and experts.  You are today’s real “rock stars” – but we need to replenish the seed corn. Whenever and wherever you can, support the education and growth of science and technology.

Today we face a far greater array of challenges, and far more uncertainty, than ever before.

The Department of Defense and the United Statement Government as a whole have the right strategic approach for meeting the new challenges.  Missile defense remains an essential pillar of our strategy.

What we need, as we go forward, to do the right thing for America and our partners, is continued hard work and determination, concerted national and international will, and a firm sense of shared purpose.

At his Inauguration in 1961, President Kennedy told the nation, “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.”  You have been handed that mantle of responsibility.  Continue to make America proud and know that America values your contribution to the preservation of freedom and liberty.