September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016 | Factsheet on Missile Defense

Missile Defense Policy: Policy Solutions for Congress and the Next Administration

As the ballistic missile threat continues to grow around the world, ballistic missile defense programs remain a quintessential feature of the U.S. national security posture for the protection of the U.S. homeland, forward-deployed troops, and allies. President Obama’s missile defense policy shifts cost the nation precious time and capabilities at a time when adversaries are successfully advancing their own ballistic missile programs. The next President must avoid such missile defense policy weaknesses, fund missile defense programs adequately, and deploy a comprehensive layered missile defense architecture, including interceptors in space.

Why Is Missile Defense Important?

Ballistic missiles remain a weapon of choice for many U.S. adversaries around the world. They are relatively inexpensive, and can be highly destructive. A long-range missile launched from the other side of the world can reach the continental U.S. in about 33 minutes. Armed with weapons of mass destruction, even a primitive ballistic missile can threaten hundreds of thousands of lives. The ballistic missile threat to the U.S. and its allies is growing.

Steps for Congress and the Next Administration

Congress and the next Administration must work together to provide adequate funding for a comprehensive layered missile defense program that is capable of addressing more advanced ballistic missile threats.

Congress should:

  • Fund missile defense programs that have gone underfunded for years. A successful ballistic missile attack on U.S. territory, forward-deployed forces, or allies would carry enormous costs in lives and treasure, particularly if the incoming missile is fitted with a nuclear warhead.
  • Affirm that the United States will protect itself from any ballistic missile threat, no matter whether accidental or intentional, and regardless of the location of the launch origin.
  • Demand that the next Administration develop and deploy a space-based missile defense interceptor layer. This step is the most appropriate for addressing the multitude of ballistic missile threats facing the United States and its allies.

Program cancellations and some of the Obama Administration’s policy decisions cost the nation valuable time and capability when it came to building a comprehensive, layered ballistic missile defense system. The next President must avoid such bad decisions and take the opportunity to pursue a missile defense program that Americans deserve.

The next Administration should:

  • Conduct a ballistic missile defense review based on realistic assumptions about international security, particularly with respect to the Russian and the Chinese ballistic missile threat.
  • Identify opportunities to advance space-based missile defense programs.
  • Continue the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) and include long-range ballistic missile interceptors as originally envisioned in 2009.
  • Encourage allies to pursue their own missile defense capabilities. NATO allies in Europe can be particularly valuable additions to Alliance and U.S. missile defense efforts.

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