A Step in the Right Direction
By Riki Ellison, President and Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA)
On October 6, 2009, Members of the United States Senate passed, with overwhelming support, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, directing Lt. General Patrick O'Reilly, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, to provide options by February 1st next year to deploy an additional Ground-Based Interceptor site in Europe or the United States to provide defense for our nation against future long-range missiles from Iran.
The Amendment SA 2616, further appropriated $151 million for the development and testing of the two-stage Ground-Based Interceptor, which was developed for the recently canceled European missile defense site, at Redzikowo, Poland. This two-stage Ground-Based Interceptor missile is in place as two are built and one of them is due to be launched and tested next June, as there remains 'high-confidence' in its capability, since it is exactly the same technology as the currently deployed three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor without the third stage.
This is a positive first step by our nation's congressional representatives to address the lack of equal and adequate long range missile protection to our Eastern and Southeastern regions of our nation from Iran that was not adequately addressed in President Obama's "new missile defense architecture". In President Obama's plan, equal long-range missile protection of the United States from Iran would be provided by a sea- and land-based, non-existent and untested SM-3 Block-2 missile starting in 2020. In addition, these future mobile SM-3 interceptors with ICBM capability have recently become controversial with Russia as they will be deployed in mass, suggesting a diplomatic possibility that they may not be deployed. To provide a "hedge" against Iran ballistic missile development, President Obama needs to rapidly accelerate the SM-3 Block-2 missile development and provide an additional ground-based missile defense site with interceptors in the United States or Europe.
It should be noted that two years ago, the Combat Commander of NORTHCOM General Gene Renuart, who is directly responsible for the protection of the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, completed a NORTHCOM GBI study to look at other alternatives to the recently canceled site in Poland to provide adequate long-range missile defense to North America. This study concluded and recommended that a previous Nike Zeus missile defense site of the 1960's at Fort Drum located in upper New York was the most preferable option. A missile defense site at Fort Drum, New York would provide the necessary 'high confidence' and equal protection to the Eastern and Southeastern United States from a long-range ballistic missile threat from Iran that is not in place today. Having a site located in the United States in a previous missile location would lower the risk, expedite the deployment and provide added necessary long-range protection to the United States within three years from now, seven years or more faster than the current missile defense architecture plan announced by Secretary of Defense Gates and President Obama.
We at MDAA concur with the Members of the Senate who drafted this amendment and all those who overwhelmingly voted for it. Click Here to View the Amendment