USA – Official Briefs Congress on Missile Defense Progress

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2010 – A hallmark of the four-phase U.S. approach to European missile defense is its ability to adjust to the unpredictable, a senior Defense Department official told Congress today.
James N. Miller, principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, spoke to the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee today on progress of the phased, adaptive approach to European ballistic missile defense.

„Further advances of technology or future changes in the threat could modify the details or timing of later phases –- that is one reason this approach is called ‚adaptive,'“ Miller said in prepared testimony. President Barack Obama approved the approach in 2009, and allies endorsed the concept at the recent NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

„At the Lisbon summit, NATO leaders took the unprecedented step to decide to develop a missile defense capability to protect the alliance’s populations and territories in Europe against ballistic missile attacks,“ Miller said, noting the U.S. approach will serve as its contribution to the alliance’s territorial missile defense. „This structure will allow our allies to plug in their national missile defense capabilities to achieve even greater capabilities over time,“ he said.

The phased, adaptive approach offers several advantages over previous ballistic missile defense strategies, Miller said. The plan, he said, allows the United States to defend its troops and allies in Europe much sooner against the threat posed by short- and medium-range missiles starting in 2011, rather than in 2016 or 2018 under previous plans. The approach will cope with dozens or scores of ballistic missile attacks, versus only five for the previous architecture, Miller said, and it will adapt more rapidly to changes in the threat through the ability to deploy additional interceptors as needed to land-based sites and on ships. The approach also will offer more opportunities for U.S. allies to participate, „thereby strengthening both our combined defenses against the ballistic missiles and the solidarity of the NATO alliance,“ Miller said.

Miller said the approach also furthers missile defense cooperation with Russia. „As part of the announcement of [the plan] last year, the administration welcomed Russian cooperation to bring its missile defense capabilities into a broader defense of our common strategic interests,“ Miller said. „Over the past 14 months, we have moved forward transparently in this area.“

Miller said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Russian Defense Minister Anatoly E. Serdyukov agreed in September to create the new Defense Relations Working Group. „This body is intended to be a venue for discussing defense policy topics such as missile defense,“ Miller said. „I will co-chair two sub-working groups: Missile Defense Cooperation and Defense Technology Cooperation. The first meeting of these sub-working groups is planned for early next year.“ Miller outlined the approach’s four phases, set to proceed through 2020.

Phase 1, through 2012, calls for U.S. missile interceptors deploying to the Mediterranean Sea with a forward-based sensor situated in southern Europe. The second phase, from 2012 through 2015, will deploy improved interceptors and sensors in both sea-based systems and a land-based site in Romania.

Phase 3, from 2015 through 2018, will establish a land-based interceptor site in Poland and field more advanced interceptors both on land and at sea. The final phase, from 2018 through 2020, will deploy next-generation interceptors intended to counter long-range ballistic missiles during their ascent phase, Miller said.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

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