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The best missile defense is a good offense

08.10.2015 17:36

Valeria Shatkaya

On August 10-13, 2015 the 18th Annual Space & Missile Defense Symposium was held in Huntsville, Alabama. One of the most interesting ideas expressed before and during it is that the best missile defense is a good offense. For example, the NORAD commander, Admiral Bill Gortney who heads also the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) considers that the current missile defense approach needs to be reconsidered. That means the efforts should be devoted to destroying adversary missiles before they fire - it is called "left of launch." Another change is the necessity of investing in global network transmitting targeting data. Though Gortney didn't say so, the "Breaking Defense" states, "that raises the possibility that the initiative has an offensive element: It could easily involve data not only about inbound missiles - "right of launch" - but also about their launchers and targeting systems - "left of launch". Moreover Adm. Gortney remembered that in 1944 the missile threat manifested itself with the V-2, that emphasizes the best way to stop enemy is offense. So, US Military representatives confirmed that the US missile shield should have offensive capabilities. In this case the issue of the global US missile shield and its European segment is again on the agenda. If the best defense is offense, then it seems very logical why the USA deploys its missile defense components close to Russian borders.

The Obama administration's request for missile defense investments reached $9.6 billion for development and operations, of which $8.1 billion is allocated for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). However, defense analysts at the Heritage Foundation Michaela Dodge and Justin Johnson consider that the Obama administration does little in the sphere of missile defense. For instance, in their article "Issues to watch at space & missile defense conference: Heritage" they brought attention to the growing threat to the US space assets from Russia and China, by saying: "However many times we stress that space and missile defense are our priorities, budgets show what the administration really cares about. Regrettably, the space budget is hard to assess". They also proposed the MDA to cooperate with the Air Force to develop a shared Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) sensors that in future would be able to "provide greater tracking capability for missile defense, while also addressing other OPIR missions." This suggestion underlines the idea of strengthening space component of the US missile defense system that directly leads to the militarization of outer space. Then it is clear why the USA opposes the Chinese-Russian draft treaty, preventing the weaponization of space, that has been tabled at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva several years ago.

Except the European segment of global US BMD system it is necessary to remind about its Arctic segment, whose elements both refer to US BMD in Europe and its national BMD deployed on CONUS. On September, 1 during a panel discussion with troops Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter claimed that US radars in Arctic are too old to counter Russian ballistic missile threats, especially the Thule Air Force Base in far northern Greenland should be modernized. "That [the Arctic base] is one of the places that ballistic missiles would overfly if they were en route to the United States. We have to … make them more sensitive so that they are able to detect threats earlier," he said. Incidentally Carter stated that the USA needs modern radars to intercept possible ballistic missiles from China and North Korea too. By his statement Carter doesn’t conceal the fact that at least Arctic segment is oriented against Russia. It is obvious that Aegis-type destroyers and cruisers may operate in international waters, but in case of necessity they can easily change their location to the Arctic waters in order to respond to a potential crisis. For example, these BMD ships may sail at the Barents Sea.

Consequently, Washington continues the deployment of its global ballistic missile defense system and looks for new approaches that would guarantee solid protection against Russian ICBMs. As it was said in the beginning, the best defense is offense, so the US global BMD system is only the addition to its nuclear and conventional offensive arms.