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Official Details DOD Missile Defense Strategy

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Missile defense plays a key role in U.S. national security. However, as missile technology matures and proliferates among potential adversaries China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, the threat to the U.S., deployed forces, allies and partners is increasing, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy said.

Leonor Tomero provided testimony at a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces hearing regarding the fiscal year 2022 budget request for missile defense and missile defeat programs.


To address these evolving challenges, the Defense Department will review its missile defense policies, strategies and capabilities to ensure the U.S. has effective missile defenses, Tomero said.

The review will contribute to the department's approach on integrated deterrence, she said, noting that the review is expected to be completed in January.

The department recently initiated development of the Next Generation Interceptor, she said, adding that the NGI will increase the reliability and capability of the United States' missile defense.

A missile launches.
Missile Launch
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptor is launched from a THAAD battery during a flight test conducted on Wake Island in the western Pacific, Nov. 1, 2015. During the test, the THAAD system successfully intercepted two air-launched ballistic missile targets.
Photo By: Ben Listerman, DOD
VIRIN: 151101-O-XT748-652C

"The department will continue to ensure that we bring a more integrated approach to air and missile defense to address various types of ballistic missile threats and enable defense against cruise missiles and unmanned aerial systems," she said.

Additionally, the department will enhance its global network of integrated space-based and land-based sensors used in a variety of capabilities, such as detection, tracking and targeting through all phases of flight for incoming missiles, Tomero said, mentioning that U.S. commercial innovation is already transforming this field.

Soldiers stand beside a missile launcher.
System Check
Soldiers from Bravo Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, perform a system check on a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense launcher during routine start up procedures in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, June 25, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Master Sgt. Benjamin Wiseman
VIRIN: 200625-F-FD161-0015C
Troops set up a missile launcher.
Avenger Defense System
South Carolina Army National Guard troops set up an Avenger Defense System at Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, June 14, 2021.
Photo By: Courtesy of the Canadian army
VIRIN: 210614-O-D0430-410

In fiscal year 2022, the department will continue to develop the prototype hypersonic and ballistic tracking space sensor that will allow the tracking of hypersonic threats and add resiliency to the sensor architecture, she said.

The department's approach for regional hypersonic defense will first focus on defense in the terminal phase, she said, meaning the final phase of a missile's trajectory.

Information superiority is critical to future battlefields and is necessary to enable rapid planning and employment in a joint operating environment. To that end, the department is developing multi cyber-hardened, advanced, all-domain awareness for command and control architecture that will enable timely and accurate decision making to address emerging threats, she said.

A ship sails with the sunset as backdrop.
USS Paul Ignatius
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Ignatius transits the Atlantic Ocean, June 12, 2021.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan T. Beard
VIRIN: 210612-N-QI061-1260C

"The department is engaging and working with our allies and partners to enhance our collective missile defense efforts," she said, mentioning Japan, South Korea, Australia and our NATO allies, along with Israel and Gulf Cooperation Council nations.

Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command; Navy Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency; Army Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command; and Space Force Lt. Gen. John E. Shaw, deputy commander of U.S. Space Command, also testified.

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