Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States
I. Charter and Organization
A. Statutory Charter of the Commission
The Commission To Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States
was established pursuant to Public Law 104-201, the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, Section 1321.
The mandate of the Commission was as follows:
"The Commission shall assess the nature and magnitude of the existing and
emerging ballistic missile threat to the United States. In carrying out its
duties, the Commission should receive the full and timely cooperation of
the Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence and any
other United States Government official responsible for providing the
Commission with analyses, briefings and other information necessary for the
fulfillment of its responsibilities. The Commission shall, not later than
six months after the date of its first meeting, submit to the Congress a
report on its findings and conclusions."
The Commission examined the ballistic missile threat posed to the 50
states. Our assessment included threats posed by ballistic missiles:
* Deployed on the territory of a potentially hostile state.
* Launched from a surface vessel or submarine operating off the coasts
of the U.S. or from an aircraft.
* Deployed by a potentially hostile nation on the territory of a third
party to reduce the range required of its ballistic missiles to strike
the United States.
The Commission examined the potential of both existing and emerging powers
to arm ballistic missiles with weapons of mass destruction. The examination
included the domestic design, development and production of nuclear
material and nuclear weapons as well as the potential for states to
acquire--through clandestine or covert sale, transfer or theft--either
technology, material or weapons. The Commission examined biological and
chemical weapons programs of the ballistic missile powers, as well as the
potential means for delivering such agents by ballistic missiles.
The Commission reviewed U.S. collection and analysis capabilities to gain
an appreciation for the capability of the U.S. Intelligence Community,
today and into the future, to warn of the ballistic missile threat.
The Commission did not examine in detail the threat posed to U.S.
territories or possessions or to U.S. forward-deployed forces, allies and
friends. Nevertheless, a short discussion of the threat to U.S. forward
deployed forces, allies and friends is presented. The Commission did not
assess the cruise missile threat. A detailed examination would have taken
it beyond its charter. However, the Commission is of the view that cruise
missiles have a number of characteristics which could be seen as
increasingly valuable in fulfilling the aspirations of emerging ballistic
missile states. The Commission did not address in detail the impact of
ballistic missile threats on U.S. military strategy and doctrine, but noted
the difficulty the U.S had in dealing with Iraqi missiles during the
Persian Gulf War. A brief discussion is presented of the possible impact of
the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem on the ballistic missile threat. A brief
discussion is also presented of the relationship of ballistic missile
threats to the ongoing revolution in military affairs.
The Commission was not asked to address the policy issues on which its
assessment would bear. Responses to the threat as assessed by the
Commission are matters of considerable public interest. Debate and
agreement on the appropriate responses to the ballistic missile threat are
needed. The Commission hopes that the following assessment will be helpful
in that regard.
B. Organization of the Report
This is an unclassified Executive Summary of the classified Report of the
Commission To Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States,
which runs to more than 300 pages, including text and graphics. The full
Report is accompanied by two classified appendices and one unclassified
appendix (the table of contents of Appendix III is listed in Attachment 2).
The full Report includes discussions of a number of additional states, such
as Libya and Syria, which are not included in this Executive Summary. The
full Report includes as well a discussion of the full range of supplier
states, particularly Western powers, including the United States.