At a time when the unstable leader of North Korea is threatening a missile attack on the U.S. island territory of Guam, located in the Pacific Ocean, the need for effective missile defense systems is more clear, now more than ever. To his credit, President Donald Trump has called on Congress to increase the missile defense budget, and has also pledged in the future to spend billions more on missile defense development and deployment.
In July of this year, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully conducted a test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), a key part of the GMD missile defense, in Guam, a system designed to thwart the kind of missile attack expected from North Korea. Additionally, several successful missile defense tests at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, in preparation for a possible North Korean missile attack.
The primary technology to prevent attacks from long range missiles is the Ground-based Missile Defense (GMD) system, which was recently successfully tested in California. In this test, the system was able to detect and destroy ballistic missile without previous calculations being input into the system. The technology has come far forward in the last few years, and it will continue to into the future.
An important concept in military strategy is disaggregation, which is decentralizing assets to make them more resilient to attack, spreading them across diverse platforms, including hosted payloads, smaller satellites and tactical and strategic capabilities. But when the term is used in conjunction with procurement policies, disaggregation is a form of in-sourcing at the Department of Defense (DOD) and centralization.
A plan was developed, during the Obama Administration, that would have taken authority away from contractors and transferred it to bureaucrats at the Pentagon. Under disaggregation, instead of having companies with expertise develop, maintain and deploy whole systems, the DOD would attempt to bring those services in house and contract out difference pieces of the system to many different companies.
The MDA had put together plan to expand the government’s role by assuming the roles and responsibilities that had traditionally been handled by the contractors in a way that would be detrimental to development and deployment of missile defense. The Trump Administration can put aside the Obama era plans to increase bureaucracy over the GMD program to move forward with plans to strengthen our missile defense capabilities.
President Trump can more strongly fund missile defense programs that have gone underfunded for years. Given his recent statements to increase the budgets by “billions of dollars,” this appears likely to happen. 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 or electromagnetic-pulse warhead.
The president should specifically affirm to the American people the commitment to protect the United States from any ballistic missile threat, no matter whether accidental or intentional, and regardless of the location of the launch origin of the attack.
Additionally, a comprehensive missile defense should also include development and deployment of 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.
Right now, California and Alaska are the only locations of our current missile defense systems. Protect Hawaii and the East Coast are also important in defending the homeland from possible missile attacks.
Many years ago, Ronald Reagan called for a missile defense capability, and it is clear now more than ever he had great vision in making that call. Who can seriously argue with the contention that we should have the ability to intercept and destroy incoming missiles launched at us by our enemies? Strong missile defense is a goal that should enjoy wide bipartisan support among the politicians elected to the serve the American people.