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Missile Defense Review Will Address Growing Threats From Iran, North Korea, Others

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With nations such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and China all maturing their missile technology, the Defense Department plans to launch a review of its own missile defense policies, strategies and capabilities over the next few months, said the deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy.

A missile launches skyward during a daytime test, leaving a trail of smoke and fire.
Sabre Missile
A Sabre short-range ballistic missile launches at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., for a test of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement, an advanced missile defense system, June 7, 2017.
Photo By: Army photo
VIRIN: 180920-A-D0439-003A

"The review will align with the National Defense Strategy and contribute to the department's approach to integrated deterrence," Leonor Tomero said during a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The review will be coordinated across the department, including such entities as the Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Northern Command, NORAD and the acquisition community, Tomero said.

"We'll look at the threat in the changing security environment ... how do we improve and have effective and affordable missile defense for both the homeland and regional defense," she said.

That review will be a part of the National Defense Strategy, which Tomero said should be completed by January 2022.

According to testimony filed by Tomero with the committee, the review will be guided by a handful of principles from defense against rogue states' intercontinental ballistic missiles to assure allies the U.S. continues to be committed to security partnerships.

With ICBMs, Tomero said, the missile defense review will focus on ensuring the U.S. has an affordable defense against rogue state ICBMs. There, missile defense must protect against limited attacks by those ICBMs, she said, and also limit their use as a threat.

A long-exposure photograph shows the nighttime launch of a missile, which leaves a trail of light.
Pacific Launch
A Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missile launches from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, Dec. 10, 2018.
Photo By: Mark Wright, DOD
VIRIN: 181210-D-D0439-005

"This protection will also contribute to diminishing the coercive potential of these states who may seek to constrain the ability of the United States to provide credible security assurances to our allies and partners during a crisis or conflict," she said.

The missile defense review will also evaluate the ability of U.S. missile defense capabilities so that the U.S. can operate with allies and partners on exercises and regional defense.

"Our regional missile defenses will continue to contribute to the United States' ability to operate throughout the world," she said. "They will enable regional and transregional military operations and exercises, providing force protection in contested environments."

Finally, the review will evaluate the continued ability of the U.S. missile defense capability to assure allies of the United States' commitment to security partnerships.

"Not only will missile defense partnerships reinforce the indivisibility of U.S. and allied joint security interests, these relationships will also provide opportunities for allied and partner cooperation, co-development, and burden sharing," she said.

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