Vice Admiral James D. Syring, Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, and Lieutenant General Richard Formica, Commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, have stated that “there is no validated military requirement to deploy an East Coast missile defense site.” This statement was in response to an inquiry from U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). Moreover, the fact that Senator Levin asked whether a validated military requirement exists might be interpreted as a subterfuge aimed at undermining the case for an East Coast missile defense site. In reality, the absence of a formal military requirement carries no significance and an East Coast missile defense site would help protect the U.S. from missile threats.
A military requirement is not needed to deploy an East Coast missile defense site. The U.S. military develops and deploys ballistic missile defense systems as a result of presidential directives and enacted laws. Hence, the lack of a validated military requirement has no significance nor is it proof that an East Coast missile defense site would not result in greater security for the nation. One illustration to support this point is President Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). Even though the EPAA lacks a validated military requirement, it is in fact the centerpiece of current missile defense plans.
As critics have repeatedly stated, the development of an East Coast missile defense site would be expensive, expected to cost about $3 billion. Yes, that is a lot of money, but it is worth the cost because it will fund an additional layer of U.S. missile defense. A “layered” missile defense gives the U.S. multiple opportunities to shoot down missiles at different stages in their flight path and increases battle space, the time operators have to hit an incoming warhead before it readies its intended target. Furthermore, Vice Admiral Syring confirmed that an East Coast missile defense site would add operational capability and several defense analysts agree that an East Coast missile defense site would provide much-needed protection for the eastern half of the country.
As Congress debates funding an East Coast missile defense site, the U.S. can improve its missile defense capability in quicker and cheaper ways. Two examples of faster and more economical ways to upgrade the current system include refining sensor capabilities and sharpening the detection of countermeasures (what an adversary would use to divert the interceptor from its target). However, it is essential to comprehend that enhancements to the existing system cannot substitute for the construction of an East Coast missile defense site and the benefits it could provide.
Washington needs to abandon its myopia about missile defense and recognize that deterrence won’t provide security in every situation. The nation can begin right now to improve its sensors and discrimination capabilities and initiate the development of an East Coast missile defense site to protect itself from long-term threats. By focusing on such upgrades, the U.S. will strengthen its security on the East Coast and prevent the nation from being as susceptible to blackmail from rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran.
Find Archived Articles: