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Chapter 6

The proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons and the missiles that can deliver them pose a major threat to the security of the United States’ forces, its allies, and friendly nations. Over 20 countries possess or are developing NBC weapons, and more than 20 nations have theater ballistic missiles (TBMs) or cruise missiles. Robust missile defense programs play a critical role in the broader strategy to prevent, reduce, deter, and defend against NBC and missile threats.

The Intelligence Community has estimated that a new threat to the United States from a rogue ballistic missile attack is not likely to emerge for several years, while the threat to deployed U.S. forces and to allies and friends exists today. U.S. missile defense priorities reflect the urgency of this immediate threat, and are consistent with the defense strategy’s focus on the threat of major theater wars and smaller-scale contingencies involving adversaries armed with advanced conventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and missiles to deliver them. The U.S. missile defense program places the highest priority on Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) and Cruise Missile Defense (CMD) programs to meet the today’s threat. The second priority is a National Missile Defense (NMD) program that positions the United States to field the most effective defense system possible when the threat warrants. The third priority is the continued development of technology to improve ballistic and cruise missile defense systems.


The U.S. defense strategy for the 21st century, as presented in the Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review, seeks to shape the international security environment in ways favorable to U.S. interests, respond to the full spectrum of threats, and prepare now for an uncertain future. Missile defense is a key component of this strategy. Missile defenses contribute to the reduction and prevention of missile proliferation and strengthen regional stability, both critical for positively shaping the international security environment. Effective missile defense systems reduce the incentives for nations to develop, acquire, or use missiles and NBC weapons by reducing the chances that an attack would inflict serious damage on U.S. or allied targets. Additionally, the U.S. ability to provide missile defense protection to allies and friends, in conjunction with the extended deterrent from the U.S. nuclear umbrella, may contribute to mitigating the desire of many states to acquire their own NBC weapons.

Should prevention and deterrence fail, missile defenses are essential for responding to missile threats. The threat of missile use in regional conflicts has grown substantially, and the potential combination of NBC weapons with theater missiles poses serious complications to the management of regional crises and the successful prosecution of U.S. strategy for major theater wars. Hostile states possessing theater missiles armed with NBC weapons may threaten or use these weapons in an attempt to deter or otherwise constrain U.S. power projection capability. Such threats could further limit U.S. freedom of action in meeting its global security commitment by intimidating allies or friends, thereby discouraging them from seeking U.S. protection or participating with the United States in the formation of coalitions. With NBC weapons, even small-scale theater missile threats would raise dramatically the potential costs and risks of military operations, undermine conventional superiority, and jeopardize the credibility of U.S. regional security strategies. Missile defenses will ensure that the United States is prepared to confront regional instability or conflict effectively in such an environment.

Theater Air and Missile Defense Programs

The Department’s first missile defense priority is to develop, procure, and deploy theater air and missile defense (TAMD) systems to protect forward-deployed elements of the U.S. armed forces, as well as allies and friends. This plan envisions the time-phased acquisition of a multi-tier, interoperable, defense in-depth capability against ballistic and cruise missiles. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) and the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Organization (JTAMDO) have a shared responsibility to provide an improved capability to defend against air and missile threats. The increased emphasis on interoperable air and missile defense has led to a Family of Systems (FOS) concept. A key aspect of FOS is to leverage the synergy between ballistic and cruise missile defenses, and to integrate the various systems that contribute to a comprehensive effort to defeat the threat. The FOS concept is a flexible configuration of interoperable TAMD systems capable of joint theater operations. The FOS concept includes an integrated and interoperable architecture consisting of individual weapon systems, sensors, and battle management/command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (BM/C4I) capabilities.

Lower-tier systems remain a top priority to defeat shorter range ballistic and cruise missiles. The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) and Navy Area are the core lower-tier systems for the TAMD mission. PAC-3 provides air defense of ground combat forces and high value assets against high performance air-breathing and theater ballistic missiles. The Navy Area program will provide U.S. forces, allied forces, and areas of vital national interest with an active defense against theater missiles. This system builds on the national investment in Aegis ships and weapon systems. The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), which will satisfy a U.S. requirement for a highly mobile system, is a follow-on lower-tier program being pursued cooperatively with Germany and Italy.

Upper-tier systems are necessary to defend larger areas, to defeat medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles, and to increase the theater commanders’ effectiveness against weapons of mass destruction. The Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and the Navy Theater Wide program are the upper-tier core programs. THAAD will make possible the protection of broad areas, dispersed assets, and population centers against TBM attacks. The Navy Theater Wide system builds upon the existing Aegis Weapon System and is an evolution of the Navy Area system.

Other TAMD concepts remain important. BMDO and the Air Force continue to explore additional concepts for boost-phase theater missile defense. These programs would add an additional layer to missile defenses, and would provide enhanced deterrence by confronting an adversary with the prospect that missile warheads would fall short of their targets and perhaps back on the adversary’s own territory. The primary boost-phase program is the Air Force funded and managed Airborne Laser (ABL) program, which is scheduled to provide a contingency capability in an aircraft demonstrator platform in 2002.

Many of the capabilities needed for effective cruise missile defense exist or are being developed in other programs. For example, ballistic missile defense sensors; battle management/command, control, and communications (BM/C3), including Cooperative Engagement Capability; and weapons (including the PAC-3, Navy Area, and MEADS lower-tier systems) have capabilities against cruise missiles. A key aspect of CMD, therefore, is to leverage the synergy between ballistic and cruise missile defense, and to integrate the various systems that contribute to CMD into a comprehensive effort to defeat this emerging threat. Additionally, advanced technology programs for CMD such as the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Sensor System are focusing on defeating land attack cruise missiles at extended ranges over an adversary’s territory. To ensure the Department is positioned to capitalize on all of these developments, joint employment concepts and a prioritized investment plan for TAMD, including CMD, are being developed through a collaborative process among the Services, BMDO, and JTAMDO.

Cooperation with Allies and Friends

As part of broader efforts to enhance the security of U.S., allied, and coalition forces against ballistic missile strikes and to complement U.S. counterproliferation strategy, the United States is exploring opportunities for TBMD cooperation with its allies and friends. The objectives of U.S. cooperative efforts are:

To strengthen U.S. security relationships.

To enhance the U.S. counterproliferation strategy.

To share the burden of developing and fielding defenses.

To enhance interoperability between U.S. forces and those of allies and friends.

To share knowledge for the mutual benefit of both the United States and its partners.

The United States is taking an evolutionary and tailored approach to allied cooperation that accommodates varying national programs and plans, as well as special national capabilities. This approach includes bilateral and multilateral research and development, off-the-shelf purchases, and coproduction. Furthermore, as part of an ongoing initiative aimed at the TBM threat, the United States is sharing early warning data on launches of ballistic missiles with several allies as a means of engendering greater cooperation on TBMD.

The United States is also exploring opportunities for TBMD cooperation with Russia as one means of fostering cooperative approaches to deal with new regional security challenges of mutual interest, such as the proliferation of ballistic missiles. Toward this end, a second joint United States-Russian TBMD command post exercise was hosted by Russia in January 1998. These simulation exercises have provided a practical basis for U.S. and Russian forces to cooperate in TBMD operations during regional contingencies where they could be deployed together against a common adversary possessing theater ballistic missiles.

The Israeli cooperative programs will assist Israel to develop a ballistic missile defense capability to deter and, if necessary, defend against the current and emerging ballistic missile threat in the region, and because of its planned interoperability with U.S. theater missile defense systems, will be capable, as a contingency, to assist in the protection of forward deployed U.S. and coalition forces. Moreover, the program provides technical benefits by expanding the theater missile defense technology base and providing risk mitigation for U.S. weapon systems.

National Missile Defense Program

The second priority of the ballistic missile defense program is NMD. President Clinton has stated that the primary mission of a U.S. NMD system would be to defend the United States against a limited strategic ballistic missile attack by a rogue nation, should such a threat emerge. It would also provide some capability against a small accidental or unauthorized launch of strategic ballistic missiles from more nuclear capable states. It would not be capable of defending against a heavy deliberate attack.

The Intelligence Community has concluded that the only rogue nation missile in development which could conceivably have the range to strike the United States is the North Korean Taepo Dong 2, which could strike portions of Alaska or the far-western Hawaiian Islands, but the likelihood of its being operational by 2005 is very low. With this exception, no country, other than the declared nuclear powers, will develop or otherwise acquire a ballistic missile in the next 15 years that could threaten the United States, although outside assistance is a wild card that could shorten timelines to deployment.

The NMD program is structured to develop and test system elements the United States could deploy if intelligence indicated that a new strategic threat was emerging. The United States is not making a decision to deploy a national missile defense at this time. Deploying before the threat emerges would preclude deploying the most advanced technology if and when the threat does emerge. If a threat does not emerge, the NMD program will continue to improve the performance of the system by advancing the technology of each element and adding new elements as necessary, while maintaining the capability to deploy a system in a short period of time.

The NMD development program will be conducted in compliance with the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Depending, for example, on the required siting of system elements deployed to defend against a specific emerging threat, a deployed NMD system either could be compliant with the ABM Treaty as written, or might require amendment of the Treaty’s provisions. Determination of the compliance of potential NMD systems with the ABM Treaty would be made by DoD on the advice of the Compliance Review Group.

Technology Base

Activities in the missile defense technology base are key to countering future, more difficult threats. The technology base program underpins the TBMD, CMD, and NMD programs. It allows DoD to provide block upgrades to baseline systems, to perform technology demonstrations, to reduce program risk, to accelerate the insertion of new technology, and to advance basic technologies to provide a hedge against future surprises. Advanced technologies are also being exploited to reduce drastically the cost of future missile defense systems.


The Administration is committed to protecting the United States, its forces abroad, and its friends and allies against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the missiles that deliver them. The United States has a comprehensive strategy for countering such threats. The structure of the missile defense program meets present and possible future missile threats, provides the best technology to meet these threats, and is fiscally prudent.

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