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Seeking New BMD Strategies Part One

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Daniel Goure
Arlington, Va., April 20, 2009
The United States needs a new strategy for missile defenses, one that reflects the changing international environment and military requirements.

The original construct of U.S. defense planners for the development and deployment of missile defenses was based on the strategic relationship that developed between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In that period, the threats were well-known, the major avenues of attack clearly defined and the technologies of interest constrained by arms-control agreements. Strategic defenses played a poor second to strategic offensive forces in the maintenance of U.S. and allied security.

The administration of President George W. Bush shattered the old consensus on missile defenses. Withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty opened the way to the development of unconstrained systems and architectures. The decision to remove Russia from the top of the list of potential threats allowed missile-defense strategists to focus on more immediate and, fortunately, limited threats. Years of intensive research and development have resulted in the deployment of several effective systems and the promise of still better capabilities in the near future.

The new administration of President Barack Obama has the opportunity to develop a new strategy for missile defenses, one consonant with current strategic realities and their own inclinations with respect to foreign and security policies. It needs to think creatively about the role of missile defenses in support of plans for global denuclearization.

This new U.S. strategy for missile defenses must reflect a number of factors:

-- The United States now faces a less predictable threat in the proliferation of ballistic missile technology around the world.

-- The United States is involved in an increasingly flexible -- perhaps even fragile -- set of international relationships with the other major nations.

-- The U.S. government has experienced a growing reluctance on the part of allies and friends to accept significant and long-term U.S. military deployments on their territory.

-- There has been a widespread growth in so-called anti-access threats.

-- However, the U.S. government and its main defense contractors have also experienced new opportunities to develop unconstrained missile defenses.

Such a new U.S. strategy on ballistic missile defense must emphasize flexibility, the ability to apply graduated pressure on potential attackers and low visibility so as not to cause problems for friends, allies and negotiating partners. Defensive deployments can provide additional political as well as military options as a crisis with a missile-armed adversary unfolds.

Any U.S. missile-defense system needs to be multilayered. Terminal defenses alone are insufficient operationally and leave the initiative in the hands of the attacker.

Part 2: Why layered defenses offer increased security against the threat of nuclear-armed ballistic missiles

(Daniel Goure is vice president of the Lexington Institute, an independent think tank in Arlington, Va.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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THAAD Launchers And Fire Control And Communications Units Rolled Out
Camden, AK (SPX) Apr 20, 2009
Lockheed Martin has rolled out the new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Weapon System launcher and Fire Control and Communications unit at the company's THAAD Launcher Integration Complex in Camden, AR.

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