U.S. Missile Defense: Strategy for the Future
Paul G. Kaminski
Undersecretary of Defense
Wall Street Journal Letters to the Editor
30 Jan 1997

In an editorial-page article on the Chinese missile threat, Richard Fisher of the Heritage Foundation purports that the "Clinton Administration is generally averse to robust missile defenses" (Dec. 30). On the contrary, this administration has a highly robust, multi-faceted national security strategy for countering missile threats. To support this strategy, we are executing seven major R&D ballistic missile defense programs and a broad technology effort that will cost more than $15 billion over the next five years.

Our first priority has been to produce new systems and upgrade existing systems to defend against the "here and now" short-to-medium-range missile threat to our deployed forces around the world. Since Desert Storm we have fielded improved versions of the HAWK and Patriot air defense systems and are developing still more effective defenses, such as the Army's third-generation Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) system and the Navy area defense system. We are also executing, in partnership with our German and Italian NATO allies, a program that will provide 360-degree protection for our maneuver ground forces.

We are also pushing hard to develop systems to defend against the emerging threat posed by longer-range missiles. All three services have allocated a sizable portion of their modernization budgets to develop what we call upper-tier and boost-phase intercept defenses, including the Army's theater high-altitude area defense system for our ground forces, the Navy's theater-wide system for our forces afloat and ashore, and the Air Force's airborne laser system to engage and destroy boosting theater ballistic missiles.

To counter future potential threats against the U.S. from rogue and accidental or unauthorized launches of strategic missiles, we have shifted from a technology readiness to a deployment readiness posture. This means that by the year 2000, sufficient elements of an initial national missile defense system will have been developed to permit the U.S. to deploy the system at any time with three years' notice. This approach will give us the capability to deploy technologies, add more capable elements to the existing system and better match our defenses to the threat in the long term.

And finally, we are improving technological support to our missile defense development programs--making wholesale upgrades to our base systems, providing increased funding for demonstrations of new technology, and advancing some of our basic underlying technologies to provide a hedge against future threats. The department has allocated more than $1 billion over the next five years to support this effort.

Paul G. Kaminski
Undersecretary of Defense
(Acquisition and Technology)