Background News

Tuesday, June 06, 2000 - 2:04 p.m. EDT
Subject: US-Russia Shared Early Warning Agreement
Presenter: Attributable to A Senior DoD Official

Rear Adm. Quigley: Okay, ladies and gentlemen. Again, this is a background session with a senior defense official on details of the shared early warning agreement --

Q: Is that what we are trying to here?

Rear Adm. Quigley: -- signed a few days ago in Moscow.

So, sir all yours.

Senior Defense Official: Mm-hmm. (In agreement.) So I am not supposed to say who I am, right?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Correct.

Senior Defense Official: We think that shared early warning agreement signed at the summit is a step to strengthen strategic stability by further reducing the risk that an accident could result in a ballistic missile launch, including the possibility of false warning of attack, resulting in a ballistic missile launch.

This came to be as a result of a relatively long process over the last year and a half. In August of 1998, we came to the agreement as a government, that we would propose to Russia this concept. We had a number of discussions, prior to the summit, in early September of 1998, at which we hashed out a joint statement that the two presidents signed, laying out the concept for shared early warning. Over the last year and a half, what we have done is try to take that concept and turn it into a detailed memorandum of agreement that lays out the responsibilities and the provisions of all of the activities.

We have actually two memorandums of agreement: one memorandum, we concluded, just the week before the summit, in Moscow. This is the MOA dealing with the Joint Warning Center, or the Joint Data Exchange Center we call it, and the provision of how early warning information will be provided to this Joint Data Exchange Center.

We have a second MOA, which addresses a complementary part of shared early warning, which is the intent of the U.S. and Russia to try to work out the arrangements of a pre-launch notification regime that could then be opened up very broadly to whatever countries wanted to participate.

The MOA on shared early warning and the Joint Data Exchange Center basically provides for the U.S. and Russia to provide each other with real -- near real time, continuous flow of information from early warning sensors. And these include the launch detection satellites of each side and the radars associated with early warning systems for each side.

This information will be processed in a way to reveal a generic class of information for ballistic missiles, would reveal such information as launch time, launch point, rough direction of launch, impact point, impact time, as derived from these sensors.

For space launch vehicles, it would reveal the type of information that is normally -- since a space launch vehicle doesn't land, it would be launch time, launch point, and azimuth, rough azimuth of launch.

This information would be piped in by each side into this Joint Data Exchange Center, which is going to be located in Moscow. We have a site picked out. And the two sides would take their own data and display it on a screen, on a desktop computer-generated display on a screen, where we could both -- both sides could monitor each other's information. And the idea would be that these folks in the center would be able to consult both among themselves and with their folks back home to help resolve any ambiguous events.

This will be a joint military operation that goes seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It will be continuous. It will be of indefinite duration. The president termed it as "permanent," which is a first.

Our timetable for start-up would be, we anticipate -- we have a facility in Moscow that needs to be renovated. We need to take care of some -- we need to agree with the Russians on how this renovation will go about, what will be required, who pays what. We anticipate that will take about -- getting all that set up and getting the place ready to begin accepting military personnel -- in about a year, about this time next year.

Then there will be about three-month training period where the sides sit down and practice and train and simulate on all of the types of events that they could think of, that could come before them, and the idea being here is that you want to have a set of set, fixed operational procedures to facilitate any kind of interaction between the two sides.

After that, we'll start off in three phases of implementation of shared early warning. The first phase would be the most simple: basically each side reporting launches of ICBMs and SLBMs and space-launched vehicles of each other and the other side, that's detected by early warning systems. We would then get comfortable with that relatively straight-forward exchange and then move on to a more complex exchange in phase two, where we would be reporting each other's launches down to the range of about 500 kilometers. And the third phase starts to bring in third-party launches in which -- third-party launches which are in the direction of either of the parties. If early warning systems pick up these launches, they would then report them to each other.

Many of you remember the Y2K Center for Strategic Stability. This was the center that was set up in Colorado Springs during the time period of the millennium rollover. This set a precedent for our activity. It actually -- how this evolved, when we started the shared early warning effort with Russia, we started thinking about building a training center in Colorado Springs for our own folks. And then a bright guy got the idea that why don't we try to use this training center that we're building for shared early warning in a way that we can worry about -- address the issue of the Y2K problem during the millennium rollover. And we set up, on relatively short notice, and with good Russian cooperation, we set up an arrangement where we successfully monitored U.S. launches -- worldwide launches over the millennium rollover.

The interesting thing about this Y2K Center activity was that many of the folks who worked very closely together in that activity are also working together on the shared early warning, and we have a good body of mutual cooperation that we can build upon for shared early warning.

And that's all I'd like to say. I'll be happy to try to answer any questions.

Q: Have we still got any formal or informal arrangements following up on the Y2K centers? Are there still folks at each location?

Senior Defense Official: No, that ended about the middle of June -- January -- excuse me. It was what we would call an operation that there wasn't much going on, which was good. Both of the publics of both sides were happy that not much went on.

We determined that things went fairly well and we closed it up pretty -- pretty quickly.

This facility that we built will be used to train our folks before we send them over to Moscow to participate in the Joint Data Exchange Center, and there is a possibility that we may actually bring some Russians into this training center to jointly train with the U.S. team.


Q: Two questions, semi-related. First question would be, will there be, in this facility in Moscow, the ability to transmit all the data from both sides -- well, I mean, the Russian data, I guess would be all we really would be interested in, but it would be interesting to see what came up on the U.S. side, as well -- back to the DOD, or in Colorado Springs, or someplace in the USA? That's question one.

Senior Defense Official: Well, one of the features of these two consoles -- I mean, we decided early on not to try to fuse the information from both sides into a common display. We have Russian data coming in, going into a Russian display; U.S. data coming into a U.S. display, and both sides can look at and correlate it visually.

There will be the opportunity, for example, to put video monitors looking at both of the displays and pipe them back both to the U.S. and to the Russian early warning centers.

Q: Yeah, and that will be like secure lines, I take it.

Senior Defense Official: We'll have a way to assure authenticated data going back and forth.

Q: I have another question, but I'll defer for now and try to get back with you on that.

Senior Defense Official: Yeah.

Q: It's been widely reported that the Russian network of, particularly the satellite network, is pretty much nonexistent. I guess their ground radars are, some of them are working. But it's also been talked about that we might finance an improved ground radar and we might do a joint satellite thing called RAMOS [Russian American Observation Satellite]. Are those things related at all to your agreement, or are those going forward?

Senior Defense Official: There is a relationship, clearly. One of the things that both sides agree on in this post-Cold War period is that both sides should have decent early warning capability. I mean, it's in our interest for Russia to have a good capability and it's in their interest for us to have one, too. We don't -- in this post-Cold War period, we're not concerned as much about intentional launches as we are of misinterpreting events.

So we have a strong interest that they have a competent early warning system, and yes, there has been some degradation in their system; I think their inability to replace some of the satellites that have aged. We think they still have a reasonably good capability, but one of the things that we are thinking about in our cooperation program, and this gets into the other area of this cooperation program we're considering with national missile defense, is to figure out ways how we can cooperate with Russia to strengthen its early warning system.

And this includes the possibility of completing a radar in the -- a radar which is currently uncompleted, which is structurally -- which is externally complete but has not been turned on yet, in the Mishelevka region, which is in sort of the southern eastern region of Russia.

We have agreed to work with them on a multi-million -- hundred million dollar program, RAMOS, which will provide, I believe, the technology for a next-generation Russian early warning satellite system, and which will also provide some useful return, we believe, for the United States. It's not going to -- RAMOS will not be helpful in helping them get their system up and filling some of the gaps in the short term.

The Russians have a radar which they're working to complete to replace the Skrunda radar, which used to be in Latvia. This new radar is going to be in Belarus at a place called Baranovichi. So they're paying attention to their early warning system. And one of the interesting elements of this cooperation is that it will enable them to get some leverage within their own country to get resources to help fix their own early warning system because this has become both a -- a relatively high-visibility area of cooperation within Russia.


Q: What assets does the United States -- what radars are we contributing? Are there any airborne, involving airborne?

Senior Defense Official: No. We are using our launch detection satellites, which currently are part of our Defense Support Program system, DSP. And then we have basically five early warning radars, one in Cape Cod; one in Northern California; one up in Clear, Alaska; one in Thule in Greenland; and one in Fylingdales in the U.K. That would be part of this collaborative sharing arrangement.

Q: Talk about the operational plan for running this. How are you going to go about writing that? I mean, the U.S. certainly has its own way of, you know, doing operations on an early warning system like this. And also, who writes that?

Senior Defense Official: Well, this will be something that the two militaries will get together and do. This is called a concept of operations for the center. And we spent -- the folks -- or the Y2K center spent several months working up the concept of operations and developed a very good cooperative relationship in this.

We will have to do the same thing for shared early warning over the next year, and that basically entails how the two teams will interact, how they will deal with specific types of events that will come in. And they will write up a document, which is a joint document, which will try to take everything into account.

The center will operate basically with two-man shifts on each side working round the clock. So we will be rotating folks in every six or eight hours. It will be a facility in which -- it's sort of in the part of Moscow -- a little bit north and -- north and east, about 40 minutes from the center of downtown. It's got a -- it's an old school house that we're going to renovate. It has a fairly large amount of property associated with it. We can put a fence around it, have good force protection characteristics. And it was actually the area where the Russians used to have their link with our Y2K center, so it has some proximity to Russian ability to be able to provide secure communications to it, and things like that.

Did I answer your question?

Q: Yes.

Q: Do we have an idea yet of how many Americans would be involved in this?

Senior Defense Official: We'll have about 16 military personnel permanently assigned to the center. This will include -- basically, it will be a colonel level in command. We will have two-man teams. In order to have two-man teams around the clock, we need something like 12, 14 people, and then there'll be a couple of support people.

Q: So the Russians would do the force protection?

Senior Defense Official: Right. They would provide the security, they would provide the support, utilities -- those kinds of things. And typically, one of the things we learned in interacting with the Russians, when they have their military people at a site, they provide food for them around the clock. So we'll have a kitchen with cooks and things like that that will be able to feed the folks.

Q: My other question has to do with on down the road, where missile activity of all countries on the planet would be included in some fashion in this Moscow facility, monitored by -- through this facility. And my question is, will there be a time when possible missile launches from rogue nations -- North Korea, Iran, those nations that the president has been talking about that we need the missile defense for, is there a time when we can share that information with the Russians so that we both know that those missiles aren't coming from each other?

Senior Defense Official: That will be done in what we call our phase three of shared early warning implementation.

I mean launches greater than 500 kilometers in range, of a ballistic missile for example, that's in the direction -- or a space-launched vehicle also -- that is in the direction of either party, that could be misinterpreted by early warning systems, will be reported to each other. So we will have the ability, if North Korea launches its space-launched vehicle that it did back in August of '98 -- and that's pointed -- that was in the direction of the United States, we would report that -- they would report that -- we would both report that to each other. We would report it to them, and they would report it to us.

Q: So this particular means of accidental nuclear war could be solved through joint monitoring?

Senior Defense Official: That's not clear -- I mean, if the -- you know, it depends. If the North Korean launches a weapon delivery vehicle against the United States, that's not -- us being able to detect it and share it is not going to be able to solve that problem. But it will make it clear to us that that launch was from North Korea, rather than from part of Russia, for example.

Q: Understand. Thanks.

Senior Defense Official: Yeah?

Q: I am just interested in the cost of the renovation effort and of standing up the group out there?

Senior Defense Official: Right.

Q: And as a related part B to that, can you talk about any U.S. contractors that may be involved in assisting with the computer systems and other things that you'll --

Senior Defense Official: Yeah. On the second part, we haven't gotten that far yet.

Q: Okay.

Senior Defense Official: On the first part, we anticipate that the total cost to purchase the facility, the land associated with the facility, the fence, et cetera, and to renovate the building, to make it appropriate for a joint military operation, would be about $7 million -- $7 million, which we have agreed to share equally and in which in-kind payments are acceptable. It doesn't necessarily mean -- for example, we could consider a possibility in which the Russians would provide the building and the land and we would provide the renovation of it, or something like that, in a way that balances the rough costs.

It will cost us another about $700,000 to put our equipment into the facility. We need to complete a couple of arrangements with the Russians on the memorandum -- that we cited in the memorandum of agreement -- dealing with liability of contractor personnel, taxes, customs duties, et cetera, which we haven't quite all ironed out yet. But that will have to be done as part of the process to get contractors on board to be able to renovate the facility.

Q: Will you do an RFP for that anytime soon?

Senior Defense Official: We need some more expert discussions with them before we were able to do that.

Q: Do you have any cost estimates for standing up the radars that they have partially started there?

Senior Defense Official: We know the radars are externally complete, but we don't know how much work needs to be done to bring them along to the point where they could be in operation. It could be tens of millions of dollars though. That's a rough estimate, and, again, based on not know how much internal remains to be done in completing the radars.

Q: Do you have a kind of timeline for that?

Senior Defense Official: Well, we haven't gotten too much interest from the Russians on this yet. So we haven't been able to do anything more than our own internal estimates, and they're not something -- I mean, it's -- because we don't know what needs to be done, it's hard to estimate how long it's going to take to do it.

Q: Projected time for phase III to begin.

Senior Defense Official: Phase III would probably begin within -- well, we're anticipating several months for each phase. So we would -- we would have the facility ready for occupation in a year. That's our intent. That's ambitious, but that's our intent. We would have a three-month training period. Then we would sort of go like into phase I, phase II, phase III of about three to four -- maybe three months each. And we would determine how well we were cooperating together, how well we operated together in one phase before we would make a judgment of going on to the next phase. But it's not envisioned to be six months or a year. It's envisioned to be months to go from one phase to the next.

Q: So within a year or less from the time you start up the facility, you'd have phase III?

Senior Defense Official: That's right.

Rear Adm. Quigley: One more question please, a brief one.

Q: Brief one. On the training, training will be -- will the Russians train their personnel, we'll train ours, or are you going to lay out a joint, say, training approach? And that other thing on that, will we need to explain to the Russians how we interpret launch data in terms of when we deliver something to the United States, here's how we determine what we're giving you. And would that involve classified information?

Senior Defense Official: You make a very important point, and that is, as part of this -- we don't want to create the problem we're trying to solve by not having a well-trained crew that can deal with events that come in a self-consistent way. The information that we have will not be classified. U.S. will be providing information that it considers not to be classified. At the same time, we consider it to be sensitive, and it's not information that we are going to release to other parties. I mean, we have an agreement within the MOA that neither party will release the data of the other party without the written permission of the other party.

Your question dealing with -- yes, they will have to be jointly trained. I mean, we will train our folks in Colorado Springs. And then there will have to obviously be joint training during a period when we're learning how to operate together. One of the questions that's remaining is whether the Russians will want to send a team over and participate in group joint training in Colorado Springs before we begin the operations in the joint data exchange center in Moscow.

Did I get all your parts of your question?

Q: Sure did.

Senior Defense Official: Okay.

Q: Thank you very much.