May 4, 1999
Ballistic Missile Defense Technology: Is the United States Ready for A
Decision to Deploy?
Biden, Hon. Joseph R., Jr., U.S. Senator from Delaware, prepared
Garwin, Dr. Richard L., Philip D. Reed senior fellow for science
and technology, Council on Foreign Relations................... 74
Prepared statement of........................................ 78
Graham, Dr. William R., former Director of the White House Office
of Science and Technology Policy............................... 63
Prepared statement of........................................ 66
Helms, Hon. Jesse, U.S. Senator from North Carolina, prepared
Piotrowski, Gen. John, former Commander in Chief, Space Command,
Colorado Springs, CO........................................... 73
Shelby, Hon. Richard C., U.S. Senator from Alabama............... 61
Prepared statement of........................................ 62
Wright, Dr. David C., research fellow, Security Studies Program,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA........... 81
Prepared statement of........................................ 85
would have no capability against bomblets carrying BW
dispersed on ascent, or against a nuclear weapon in a large
nor could it discriminate a warhead in a small balloon,
properly done, from perhaps 10 empty small balloons,
would neither see nor be able to intercept short-range
ballistic missiles launched from ships near U.S. shores,
would neither see nor be able to intercept short-range
cruise missiles launched from ships near U.S. shores,
it is possible to protect the United States against the attack by long-
range ballistic missiles.
The beginning of protection lies with deterrence of such attack,
and even deterrence of building such a capability. Deterrence against
use comes from the certainty of nuclear response to nuclear attack
against the United States, and such a response would be overwhelming.
Deterrence against building such a capability derives from its lack of
utility, since its use is likely to be deterred by the threat of
retaliation. Furthermore, a nation deploying an ICBM system to threaten
the United States would surely feel vulnerable to preemptive attack, if
the United States learned where the missiles were based.
Nevertheless, a limited ICBM capability might be built for
political reasons, despite the insecurity that it would pose.
It is possible to intercept the ICBM in boost-phase--while the main
rocket engines are still burning, so that the task of a homing
interceptor is far simpler than that posed to the ground-based
interceptor that must see a cool warhead at great distances in space.
But such a system has essentially nothing in common with the National
Missile Defense that is proposed. It would use the existing DSP
satellites to determine the time and rough direction for launch of a
ground or sea-based interceptor. But the fundamental characteristic of
that interceptor is that it should reach ICBM velocity of 7 km/s and
should do it in about 100 s rather than the 250 s of a typical ICBM.
Under these circumstances, there is a vast area in which the
interceptor could be deployed and still make the intercept in boost
phase. Specifically, against North Korea, such interceptors could be
deployed at a joint U.S.-Russian test range south of Vladivostok (if
Russia wished to cooperate with the United States in this regard) or,
in principle, from military cargo ships in a vast range of ocean area.
Because such sea-based capabilities might be useful for defense of
Japan, for instance, against theater-range missiles launched from North
Korea, and because there is already in the September 26, 1997,
``Agreement on Confidence-building Measures Related to Systems to
Counter Ballistic Missiles Other Than Strategic Ballistic Missiles''
(signed but unratified) a provision by which the Parties to the ABM
Treaty of 1972 accept the deployment of ballistic missile defenses that
do not ``pose a realistic threat to the strategic nuclear force of
another Party,'' it is possible that Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and
Ukraine would agree specifically to a few large interceptors based on
ships to carry out boost-phase intercept of missiles launched from
North Korea--which is, after all, not a Party to the ABM Treaty.
We should not deploy the proposed National Missile Defense
unless it is proved capable of handling the countermeasures that can
realistically be employed by the potential adversary.
The evaluation of NMD should start from scratch with the
use of ground-based or ship-based interceptors that will destroy the
offensive missiles in boost phase--before they can release bomblets or
separate a warhead that could then provide itself with an enclosing
There is no reason to abandon the protection of the ABM
Treaty, that constrains Russian defenses and thus allows the United
States to deter Russia with modest numbers of nuclear weapons, thus
facilitating further great reductions in the only nuclear threat to the
survival of the United States.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF DR. DAVID WRIGHT, RESEARCH FELLOW, SECURITY
STUDIES PROGRAM, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY,
Dr. Wright. It is a pleasure today to appear before the
committee. I will summarize my written remarks, which I would
ask would be put in the record.
Both the administration and the Senate have singled out
technical readiness as the key criteria that will affect next
year's decision on whether or not to begin deployment of the
national missile defense system. Is the technology ready to
deploy? I will argue the answer is no. Will it be ready to
deploy by next summer, when the Deployment Readiness Review is
schedule? Again, I will argue the answer is no.
I will then discuss what the United States needs to do to
find out if the technology is ready to deploy at some point in
When you develop a technology and want to know if it is
ready for production, you need to do three things. First, you
need to build a prototype and test it on the test range or in
the lab under controlled conditions to determine if the basic
technology is in hand and whether it will work in a benign
Second, once you have demonstrated that the technology
works under controlled conditions, you need to test it under
conditions that approximate as closely as possible those you
would expect to find in the real world, and to assess its
operational effectiveness in the real world. Three, you need to
do enough testing to assess the reliability of the technology.
Satisfying the first criteria is clearly important and
necessary, but it does not demonstrate technical readiness to
deploy. The other two criteria must be satisfied as well. In
fact, satisfying the first condition and demonstrating the
basic technology may tell you essentially nothing about whether
the second criteria will be met and how well the technology
will do in the real world.
It is obviously important to test for operational
effectiveness when developing a military technology which an
adversary will be trying to defeat. Thus, for an NMD system,
satisfying the second criteria would in part require making a
best guess about the types of warheads that North Korea, Iran,
and Iraq would be likely to use in their ballistic missiles,
and then conducting tests against those types of targets.
Since the NMD system is in intended to counter ballistic
missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction, satisfying the
third criteria and demonstrating reliability is extremely
If the United States is going to count on its NMD system,
it has to know how reliable the system is. Some argue it is
important to employ an NMD system as soon as possible, and the
United States should, therefore, be willing to take high risks
by developing subsystems concurrently and using surrogate
components and tests, but experience shows that this rarely
works. In fact, by taking such risks, you are more likely to
delay deployment than speed it up.
As the Welch report stated, ``The virtually universal
experience of the study group members has been that high
technical risk is not likely to accelerate fielded capability.
It is far more likely to cause program slips, increased costs,
and even program failure.''
No matter what development strategy is adopted, it is
essential that the United States not cut corners on testing,
because testing is the only way to find out if the technology
is ready. The more urgent one believes NMD deployment is, the
more one should support and insist on an adequate and complete
test program that satisfies the three criteria outlined I have
Now, what is the current situation? Well, let us look first
at whether the United States has satisfied my first criteria.
There have been no intercept tests of the NMD system, but since
1982, the United States has conducted 16 intercept tests of
exo-atmospheric hit-to-kill interceptors, which operate in a
similar manner to the planned NMD interceptor.
To date only 2 of those 16 intercept tests have scored
hits, a 13 percent success rate, and the test record is not
getting better with time. The most recent successful high-
altitude test occurred in January, 1991, and the last 11 such
intercept tests have failed.
What this test record shows is that learning to do high-
speed hit-to-kill, commonly called hitting a bullet with a
bullet, is very hard. General Lyles testified in January that
one thing that had changed in the previous year was an
appreciation of ``The reality of how difficult this job is, the
reality of how tough it is to try and do missile defense, and
how tough it is to try to get hit-to-kill technology.''
Thus, as of today, the technology does not justify making a
decision to begin deployment. Indeed, a year ago the Welch
report stated, ``After more than a dozen flight tests, we are
still on step one in demonstrating and validating the hit-to-
kill system.'' Mr. Welch's report appeared, two more flight
tests of exo-atmospheric hit-to-kill intercepts have taken
place, and both failed to hit their targets. Thus, the more
recent tests only strengthen the Welch panel's conclusion.
What is the program status likely to be next summer when
the Deployment Readiness Review is scheduled? The United States
is planning to conduct four NMD intercept tests between now and
then. Even if all four of these intercept tests take place
between now and next June, and are successful, would that
satisfy the first criteria?
It would certainly demonstrate the principle of hit-to-kill
under test conditions, and would be a necessary first step for
the testing program; however, it would still not indicate that
the technology had fully satisfied the first criteria, because
these tests will be performed using surrogate boosters and kill
vehicles, and not prototypes of the components that would
actually be deployed.
A full prototype of the interceptor technology that is
intended for deployment will not be flight tested until fiscal
year 2003. Thus, the tests planned for the next year will not
assess the performance of two of the most important and least
mature components of the system.
More importantly, the second criteria will not have been
met, since apparently none of these tests will simulate real-
As the fiscal year 1998 DOT&E report states, ``The NMD test
and evaluation program is building a target suite that, while
an adequate representation of one or two reentry vehicles, may
not be representative of threat penetration aids, booster or
post-boost vehicles. Test targets of the current program do not
represent the complete design-to threat space and are not
representative of the full sensor requirements spectrum,'' that
is, discrimination requirements.
It is quite possible for a technology to work well in tests
and fail in the real world. For example, the Patriot system
used in the Gulf war did phenomenally well in tests, it had a
perfect 17 for 17 record in intercept tests prior to the Gulf
war, yet the Army claims only a 61 percent success rate for the
Patriot during the Gulf war, and independent assessments of its
performance as well as statements by the Israeli officials
indicate that the success rate was actually much lower.
One reason for the failure of the Patriot to destroy the
Iraqi al Huseyn missiles is that the Iraqi missiles broke up on
reentry, creating multiple targets that maneuvered as they fell
to the ground. These proved to be very effective
countermeasures, albeit inadvertent ones. Future missiles must
be expected to incorporate intentional countermeasures to
confuse or overwhelm the defense.
Let me make a couple of short points about countermeasures.
Ultimately, the U.S. NMD system will succeed or fail, based on
its ability to deal with countermeasures, so before deciding to
deploy, the U.S. must understand whether the NMD system it is
developing is likely to work against plausible real-world
threats. Members of the Rumsfeld Commission have stressed that
absence of evidence is not evidence of absence when considering
ballistic missile development. This advice must also be heeded
relative to countermeasure development for these missiles.
While some see the Iraqi use of ballistic missiles in the
1991 Gulf war as a wake-up call to the United States about the
future ballistic missile threat, it was also no doubt a wake-up
call to other countries about the future deployment of U.S.
missile defenses. Those countermeasures should not be thought
of as an optional add-on that the country might or might not
decide to put in its long-range missiles at the last minute.
A country that is developing or trying to acquire
intercontinental ballistic missiles would no doubt see the
parallel development or the purchase of countermeasures as an
integral part of its missile program.
The bottom line is that none of the three criteria outlined
above will have been fully satisfied by next summer. At best,
the first criteria may be partially satisfied, and I think it
is clear then that by next summer the technology will not
justify making a decision to begin deployment, but in the
longer term, what kind of test program would the United States
need to deploy to determine whether its NMD system is
technically ready to deploy?
First, the United States should not set an unrealistic time
scale for its testing program. The testing schedules should not
be predetermined, but should be set by the outcome of previous
tests. There must be sufficient time between tests to
assimilate the results of one test before conducting the next
Second, the United States should set up a red team, whose
job it is to devise countermeasures using the kind of
information and technology that is available to developing
countries. Some of this is already being done, but it must
become a top priority of the program.
Third, the NMD testing program should include flight tests
of the interceptor against the best countermeasures potentially
available to a threat nation, as devised by the red team, and
the United States should not deploy an NMD system before it is
proved effective against the countermeasures devised by the red
Fourth, the United States should conduct enough tests to
assess the reliability of a system. The number of tests
required will depend on both the system reliability
requirements and the test record.
Finally, there should be an independent oversight of the
overall NMD testing program, and in particular, there must be
careful oversight to ensure that the red team is independent
and adequately supported, and that its ideas are incorporated
Let me conclude by noting that national missile defense is
a highly politicized issue, and there is great political
pressure on decisionmakers to do something, but the political
response must not get too far ahead of what the technology can
In January, 1999, General Lyles stated, when talking about
the newly revised NMD program and test schedule, he said, ``You
will find no programs at all in the Department of Defense that
have the limited amount of testing and the aggressive schedule
that we have embarked upon here, even with this revised
If the United States is serious about deploying a defense
against ballistic missiles launched to its territory, then it
should be serious about finding out if the technology is ready.
The only way to find that out is by a rigorous and realistic
testing program. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Wright follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. David C. Wright
Mr Chairman, distinguished Senators, it is a pleasure to appear
before the Committee today.
Both the Administration and the Senate have singled out technical
readiness as a key criteria that will affect the decision next year on
whether or not to begin deployment of a national missile defense (NMD)
Is the technology ready to deploy? In this testimony, I will argue
the answer is no. Will it be ready to deploy by next summer, when the
Deployment Readiness Review (DRR) is scheduled? Again, I will argue the
answer is no. I will then discuss what the United States needs to do to
find out if the technology is ready to deploy at some point in the
Thus, I will consider three questions in turn. First, does the
United States now know enough about the capability of the technology to
make a commitment to deploy a national missile defense? Second, will
the United States know enough by next summer? And finally, what will it
take for the United States to know at any point beyond next summer?
That is, what does the United States have to do to understand enough
about the capability of the technology to be able to make a commitment
to deploy an NMD system that it can expect to be effective?
``Fly before you buy'' is an oft-heard dictum regarding the
Pentagon's acquisition policy. It is important to be clear about what
kind of flying the United States needs to do before buying NMD.
When you develop a technology--any technology--and want to know if
it is ready for production, you need to do three things:
1. You need to build a prototype and test it on the test
range or in the lab under controlled conditions to determine if
the basic technology is in hand and whether it will work in a
2. Once you have demonstrated that the technology works under
controlled conditions, you need to test it under conditions
that approximate as closely as possible those you expect to
find in the real world. This is necessary to assess the
operational effectiveness of the technology in the real world,
which will not be a benign environment,
3. You need to do enough testing to assess the reliability of
Satisfying the first of these criteria is clearly important and
necessary, but does not demonstrate technical readiness to deploy. It
is necessary but not sufficient; the other two criteria must be
satisfied as well. In fact, satisfying the first condition and
demonstrating the basic technology may tell you essentially nothing
about whether the second criteria will be met and how well the
technology will do in the real world.
It should go without saying that it is especially important to test
for operational effectiveness if the technology you are developing is a
military technology, which an adversary will be trying to defeat. Thus,
for an NMD system, satisfying the second criterion would in part
require making a best guess about the types of warheads that North
Korea, Iran and Iraq would be likely to use on their ballistic
missiles, and then conducting tests against targets of those types.
After all, one of the key things an NMD system is supposed to do is to
defend the United States from long-range missiles launched by one of
Since the NMD system is intended to counter ballistic missiles
carrying weapons of mass destruction, satisfying the third condition
and demonstrating reliability is extremely important. If the United
States is going to--in any sense of the word--count on its NMD system,
it has to know that the system is reliable.
Some have argued that it is important that the United States deploy
an NMD system as soon as possible, and that the United States should
therefore be willing to take high risks by developing subsystems
concurrently and using surrogate components in tests. But experience
shows that this rarely works. In fact, by taking such risks, you are
more likely to delay deployment than speed it up. As the Welch Report
\1\ stated ``The virtually universal experience of the study group
members has been that high technical risk is not likely to accelerate
fielded capability. It is far more likely to cause program slips,
increased costs, and even program failure.'' Similarly, in discussing
the sense of urgency behind the THAAD program, the FY 1998 Report of
the Director, Operational Testing & Evaluation (DOT&E) \2\ stated that
``The ultimate result, ironically, is a schedule slip of seven years.''
\1\ Report of the Panel on Reducing Risk In Ballistic Missile
Defense Flight Test Programs, 27 February 1998.
\2\ FY98 Annual Report of the Director, Operational Test &
Evaluation, submitted to Congress February 1999.
No matter what development strategy is adopted, it is essential
that the United States not cut corners on testing, because testing is
the only way to find out if the technology is ready. The more urgent
one believes NMD deployment is, the more one should support and insist
on an adequate and complete test program that satisfies the three
criteria outlined above.
where is the program now?
What is the current situation? First, let's look at whether the
United States has satisfied the first criteria.
There have been no intercept tests of the NMD system, but since
1982 the United States has conducted 16 intercept tests of exo-
atmospheric hit-to-kill interceptors, which operate in a similar manner
to the planned NMD interceptor. To date, the test record of such
interceptors has been abysmal. Only 2 of these 16 intercept tests
scored hits, for a 13 percent success rate. And the test record is not
getting better with time; the most recent successful high-altitude test
occurred in January 1991 and the last 11 such intercept tests have been
What can we learn from this test record? What it shows is that
learning to do high-speed hit-to-kill commonly dubbed ``hitting a
bullet with a bullet''--is very hard. Indeed, the Director of the
Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, General Lyles, stated in his
Senate testimony \3\ in January 1999 that one thing that had changed in
the previous year was an appreciation of ``the reality of how difficult
this job is . . . The reality of how tough it is to try to do missile
defense and how tough it is to try to get hit-to-kill technology . .
\3\ Lt. General Lester Lyles, testimony before the Subcommittee on
Strategic Forces, Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate,
February 24, 1999.
It is clear that the technology has not satisfied even the first
criteria listed above--demonstrating a capability against cooperative
targets. Thus, as of today the technology does not exist to justify
making a decision to begin deployment. Anyone asserting otherwise is
basing their assertion on something other than the demonstrated facts.
Indeed, a year ago, the Welch Report \4\ stated that ``After more
than a dozen flight tests . . . we are still on `step one' in
demonstrating and validating HTK [hit-to-kill] systems. . . . And even
when this first step is achieved, these programs will have to go
through steps two and three: demonstrating reliable HTK at a weapon
system level and demonstrating reliable HTK against likely real-world
\4\ Report of the Panel on Reducing Risk In Ballistic Missile
Defense Flight Test Programs.
Since the Welch Report appeared, two more flight tests of exo-
atmospheric hit-to-kill interceptors have taken place,\5\ and both
failed to hit their target. Thus, the more recent tests only strengthen
the Welch Panel's conclusion.
\5\ Both of these tests were of THAAD interceptors.
where will the program be next summer?
What is the program status likely to be next summer, when the
Deployment Readiness Review is scheduled? The United States is planning
to conduct four NMD intercept tests between now and then. However, the
date of the first intercept test has recently slipped by several
months, and it is not clear how many of these tests will actually take
place by June 2000.
Even if all four of these intercept tests take place between now
and next June, and are successful, would that satisfy the first
criteria? It would certainly help demonstrate the principle of hit-to-
kill under test conditions, which would be a necessary first step for
the testing program.
However, it would still not indicate that the technology had
satisfied the first criteria because these tests will be performed
using surrogate boosters and kill vehicles and not prototypes of the
components that would actually be deployed. Prototypes of the
interceptor technology that is intended for deployment will not be
tested until FY2003. (The first tests of the prototype interceptor
booster and kill vehicle are planned for FY2001 and FY2003,
Thus, the tests planned for the next year will not assess the
performance of two of the most important components of the system. Yet,
as General Lyles testified in February of this year, ``The ground-based
interceptor (GBI) weapon is the least mature element of the system and
entails the highest technological development risks.'' \6\
\6\ Lt. General Lester Lyles, testimony before the Subcommittee on
Strategic Forces, Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate,
February 24, 1999.
More importantly, the second criteria will not have been met since
apparently none of these four planned tests will simulate real-world
conditions. According to the FY 1998 DOT&E Report. ``The NMD T&E
[testing and evaluation] program is building a target suite that, while
an adequate representation of one or two reentry vehicles, may not be
representative of threat penetration aids, booster, or post-boost
vehicles. Test targets of the current program do not represent the
complete `design-to' threat space and are not representative of the
full sensor requirements spectrum.'' \7\
\7\ FY98 Annual Report of the Director, Operational Test &
Evaluation, submitted to Congress February 1999.
And it is quite possible for a technology to work well in tests and
fail in the real world. For example, recall that the Patriot system
used in the Gulf War did phenomenally well in tests against ballistic
missiles--it had a perfect 17 for 17 record in intercept tests prior to
the Gulf War. Yet the Army claims only a 61% success rate for Patriot
during the Gulf War, and independent assessments of its performance \8\
(as well as statements by Israeli officials \9\) indicate that the
success rate was actually much lower--and perhaps close to zero.
\8\ George N. Lewis and Theodore A. Postol, ``Video Evidence on the
Effectiveness of Patriot during the 1991 Gulf War.'' Science and Global
Security, Vol. 4, pp.1-63, 1993. The Panel on Public Affairs of the
American Physical Society appointed a panel to review the Lewis-Postol
analysis and criticisms of it; the panel found that the Lewis-Postol
methodology was sound and that none of the criticisms stood up to
scrutiny. These findings are reported in Jeremiah D. Sullivan, Dan
Fenstermacher, Daniel Fisher, Ruth Howes, O'Dean Judd, Roger Speed,
``Technical Debate over Patriot Performance in the Gulf War,'' Science
and Global Security, Vol. 8, pp.1-55, 1998.
\9\ Moshe Arens, former Israeli Minister of Defense, and General
Dan Shomron, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Force during the
1991 Gulf War, stated in interviews conducted by Reuven Pedatzur on an
Israeli TV documentary (21 November 1993) that the Patriot successfully
intercepted at most one Scud over Israel. Highlights of these
interviews are reported in Tim Weiner, New York Times, 21 November
1993, and Newsweek, November 1993.
One reason for the failure of the Patriot to destroy the Iraqi al
Huseyn missiles is that the Iraqi missiles broke up on reentry,
creating multiple targets that maneuvered as they fell to the ground.
These proved to be very effective countermeasures, albeit inadvertent
ones. Future missiles must be expected to incorporate intentional
countermeasures to confuse or overwhelm the defense.
Indeed, the U.S. NMD system will succeed or fail based on its
ability to deal with countermeasures. So before deciding to deploy, the
U.S. must understand whether the NMD system it is developing is likely
to be able to work against plausible real-world threats.
Members of the Rumsfeld Commission have stressed that ``absence of
evidence is not evidence of absence'' for ballistic missile
development; this advice must also be heeded relative to countermeasure
development for those missiles. Dr. William Graham and others have
emphasized the importance of using ``Try Intelligence'' or ``TRYINT''
to assess potential ballistic missile threats. This would involve
trying to build ballistic missiles using only the kind of information
and technology assumed to be available to potential adversaries to see
what is possible. The United States must also use TRYINT in assessing
potential countermeasures and must test the NMD system against such
countermeasures. While a countermeasure TRYINT program--the
Countermeasures Hands-On Program (CHOP)--exists, the level of effort
devoted to it is likely inadequate.\10\ Moreover, it is not clear at
what level its results will be incorporated into intercept tests.
\10\ According to Michael C. Sirak, `` `Chop'' shop helps create
robust missile defenses,'' Inside Missile Defense, Vol. 5. No. 8, April
21, 1999, pp. 1, 8-12, CHOP brings together teams of four engineers to
work on developing countermeasures for nine to twelve months. Yet a
country serious about developing countermeasures could work for many
years on the problem.
It turns out that the type of interceptor the U.S. NMD system will
use--a hit-to-kill interceptor that is designed to intercept outside
the atmosphere in the vacuum of space--is particularly vulnerable to
certain kinds of simple countermeasures. I will not go into detail
here, but countermeasures that are technically simple (such as
lightweight balloon decoys with the warhead also enclosed in a balloon)
can make the system fail catastrophically.
Will these types of simple countermeasures be available to
developing countries such as North Korea? Yes. It is logically
inconsistent to assert that developing countries will be able to build
or otherwise acquire the technology for intercontinental ballistic
missiles, and at the same time will not have access to the far simpler
technology to equip these missiles with effective countermeasures. (If
one assumes these countries are receiving technology and/or assistance
for ballistic missiles from more advanced missile states, such as
Russia, one must also assume they would receive assistance on
Are ballistic missiles equipped with countermeasures merely a
theoretical threat? Some people argue that developing countries may not
bother to use countermeasures. But it is also logically inconsistent to
assert that countries like North Korea or Iran will go to all the
trouble to build or acquire intercontinental ballistic missiles--
largely to be able to target the United States--and at the same time
will not be motivated to use simple countermeasures to defeat a U.S.
NMD system deployed to counter their ballistic missiles.
While some see the Iraqi use of ballistic missiles in the 1991 Gulf
War as a wake-up call to the United States about the future ballistic
missile threat, it was also no doubt a wake-up call to other countries
about the future deployment of U.S. missile defenses. Thus,
countermeasures should not be thought of as an optional add-on that a
country might or might not decide to put on its long-range missile at
the last minute. A country that is developing or trying to acquire
intercontinental ballistic missiles would no doubt see the parallel
development or purchase of countermeasures as an integral part of its
Thus, asserting that countries deploying intercontinental ballistic
missiles either will not be able to or will not bother to use effective
countermeasures amounts to wishful thinking and should not be the basis
for military planning.
Two sensor fly-by tests have been done that have reportedly
distinguished decoys from a mock warhead. What does this mean? From a
technical point of view, there is no doubt that sensors can detect
temperature differences between objects in space, or differences in
wobbling motions. But this capability is only useful in discriminating
between warhead and decoys if the attacker does not manipulate the heat
or motion signals in a way to confuse the defense. Rather than using
decoys that look and behave differently from the warhead, the attacker
would disguise the warhead to make it look like a decoy, or make all
the objects dissimilar in appearance.
The bottom line is that none of the three criteria outlined above
will have been satisfied by next summer. At best, the first criteria
may be partially satisfied. Thus, it is clear that by next summer the
technology will not justify making a decision to begin deployment of an
recommendations for the future
What should the United States do to find out if the technology is
ready in the longer term? In particular, what kind of a test program
would the United States need to determine whether its NMD system is
technically ready to deploy?
First, the United States should not set an unrealistic time
scale for its testing program. The testing schedule should not
be predetermined, but should be set by the outcome of previous
tests. There must be sufficient time between tests to
assimilate the results of one test before conducting the next
Second, the United States should set up a Red Team whose job
it is to devise countermeasures using the kind of information
and technology available to developing countries.
Third, the NMD testing program should include flight tests
of the interceptor against the best countermeasures potentially
available to a threat nation, as devised by the Red Team. The
United States should not decide to deploy an NMD system before
it is proved effective against the Red Team countermeasures.
Fourth, the United States should conduct enough tests to
assess the reliability of the system. The number of tests
required will depend both on the system reliability
requirements and the test record.
Finally, there should be independent oversight of the
overall NMD testing program. In particular, there must be
careful oversight to ensure that the Red Team is independent
and adequately supported, and that its ideas are incorporated
National Missile Defense is a highly politicized issue and there is
great political pressure on decision-makers to do something. But the
political response must not get too far ahead of what the technology
General Lyles stated in January 1999 \11\ about the newly revised
NMD program, ``You will find no programs at all [in the Department of
Defense] that have the limited amount of testing and the aggressive
schedule that we've embarked upon here even with this revised program.
. . .''
\11\ Lt. Gen. Lester Lyles, Director, BMDO, DOD News Briefing,
January 20, 1999.
If the United States is serious about deploying a defense against
ballistic missiles launched at its territory then it should be serious
about finding out if the technology is ready. The only way to find out
is by a rigorous and realistic testing program.
Following are excerpts from the section on NMD of the FY 1998
Annual Report by the Director, Operational Testing and Evaluation
(DOT&E), available at
test & evaluation assessment
The aggressive schedule established for the NMD Deployment
Readiness Program presents a major challenge. For instance, if a
deployment is required by 2003, the NMD program will have to compress
the work of 10 to 12 years into 6 years. As a result, many of the
design and T&E activities will be done concurrcntly. Program delays
have already caused IFT-3 to move to June 1999. This represents almost
an 18-month slip over the last year and a half. This clearly
demonstrates an extremely high-risk schedule and DOT&E considers the
probability of meeting the DRR on time with the currently planned T&E
program as highly unlikely.
The complex operating characteristics and environments of the NMD
T&E Program make it necessary to plan and conduct IFTs that are limited
in scope. DRR information based on a few flight tests with immature
elements will be limited. As a result, the T&E program will rely
heavily on ground testing and the execution of simulations for
assessing the maturity and performance of the NMD system concept. For
example, the decision to downselect the EKV contract early eliminates
the benefit of intercept flight data to support that decision. This
warrants a rigorous ground hardware-in-the-loop simulator test program
to assess competing seeker design. It does not appear, however, that
the LSI will increase the scope of that grown testing in the absence of
the flight test.
The following risks can potentially impact the NMD T&E program's
ability to test, analyze, and evaluate system performance:
Limited system-level testing: Only two flight tests and one system-
level flight test (IFT-5) are planned before the DRR. Should IFT-5
fail, the DRR would be left with limited IFT and IGT data on which to
basc a decision. Furthermore, the IFT-5 configuration differs from the
Capability-1 system in that it uses prototype and surrogate sensors and
a surrogate GBI booster stack.
Limited engagement conditions: Flight test launches from California
and interceptors from Kwajalein Missile Range, along with safety
constraints, place significant limitations on achieving realistic
geometry and closing velocities.
GBI booster testing: The NMD T&E program makes use of a surrogate
launch vehicle, the Payload Launch Vehicle, for all flight tests prior
to the DRR. The objective booster contract was just awarded in July
1998 and first delivery will not occur until after the FY00 DRR. Lack
of IFT data without the objective GBI capability (e.g., larger burnout
velocity than the Payload Launch Vehicle) before the DRR will limit the
Limitations of ground testing: The Integrated System Test
Capability will be the major source of data generated from ground
testing. However, test articles used to represent NMD elements in the
testbed may not be verified or validated in time for the DRR. In
addition, early tests like IGT-1A were very rudimentary and only tested
the message exchange between the BMC3 and prototype X-Band Radar; a
simulated interceptor was not even launched. Substantial upgrades must
be performed on the Integrated System Test Capability before overall
system performance can be thoroughly assessed.
Target suite: The NMD T&E program is building a target suite that,
while an adequate representation of one or two reentry vehicles, may
not be representative of threat penetration aids, booster, or post-
boost vehicles. Test targets of the current program do not represent
the complete ``design-to'' threat space and are not representative of
the full sensor requirements spectrum (e.g., discrimination
requirements). Much of this limitation is attributable to the lack of
information about the real threat. Multiple target testing; NMD system
performance against multiple targets is not currently planned for
demonstration in the flight test program. Validated simulations will be
used to evaluate multiple simultaneous target engagement.
BMC3 interoperability testing: The BMC3 to Commander-In-Chief
interface inside Cheyenne Mountain will not be tested prior to the DRR.
Spare test articles: The current TEMP identifies a lack of spare test
articles due to a resource allocation trade-off. This may have a
significant impact on schedule and data availability for the FY00 DRR,
and ultimately an FY03 deployment if there are any flight test
Limitations of ground lethality testing: There is no ground test
facility capable of propelling EKVs or their full-scale replicas
against targets at the closing velocities expected for NMD intercepts.
These closing velocities will exceed 7 kilometers per second. Existing
full-scale facilities cannot yet achieve 3 kilometers per second. The
lethality test data to support DRR will be collected from light-gas-gun
tests of reduced-scale replicas of EKV surrogates and targets at the
lower-end (six kilometers per second or less) of the intercept velocity
Programmatic changes: The advent of the LSI contractor has resulted
in the repeat of extensive planning and analysis already performed by
the JPO. The System Evaluation Plan is being replaced by a LSI
generated System Verification Plan; and there does not appear to be a
strong desire on the part of the JPO to have any independent
developmental evaluation. The High Fidelity System Simulation, which
was to be the fast running, system performance, digital simulation for
assessing many scenarios throughout the threat space, has been largely
abandoned in favor of developing Boeing's LSI Integrated Distributed
The NMD system shares an important functional attribute with
theater missile defense systems like THAAD, Navy Theater Wide, and PAC-
3--all are hit-to-kill systems. Recent THAAD flight test failures have
provided us with the following important lessons: (1) hit-to-kill
technology is extremely difficult; (2) pre-flight checkouts of
reliability and performance need to be emphasized; and (3) strict
quality control activities need to be implemented in the manufacturing
of the GBI. In addition, the failure of IFT-1 underscored the need for
a more robust program for targets and system spares, which will support
the development of ballistic missile defense systems. This failure and
its resultant impact on the test program highlights the very high level
of schedule risk associated with the NMD program.
All of the above points were reemphasized in the findings of the
Institute for Defense Analyses study, chaired by Retired General Larry
Welch, on Reducing Risk in Ballistic Missile Defense Flight Test
Programs. This study was co-sponsored by DOT&E, the Director, Systems,
Engineering and Evaluation, and the Director, Ballistic Missile Defense
The Chairman. Thank you very much. As I indicated earlier,
Senator Biden was unavoidably detained because of his interest
in a vote that occurred on the Senate floor, which was delayed
itself by 30 or 35 minutes, causing everybody to be behind
I want Joe to do his opening statement in just a moment,
and I would also like, if he pleases, Senator Lugar to have his
statement, but before I turn to Senator Biden, I think we
should address the matter of countermeasures. Some have begun
putting forward an argument that any NMD built can be defeated
easily by countermeasures. Of course, countermeasures are not a
reality simply because somebody draws a picture of one.
I would be willing to wager that a good many scientists
could draw equally compelling pictures of things to counter the
countermeasures, but we need not, I think, get into an art
contest at this hearing, and I hope we will confine our
discussion to the realm of the possible, and not allow flights
of fancy either to lead us to predict that missile defenses can
do nothing to protect our country, or that they may be perfect
in affording such protection.
Having said that, I invite Senator Biden to make his
Senator Biden. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask that my
entire statement be placed in the record, if I may.
The Chairman. Certainly. Without objection.
Senator Biden. Let me just state at the outset that testing
aside, and I speak to this in my opening statement, I am
concerned that our currently envisioned system may be the wrong
tool for the job. I am skeptical that our national missile
defense currently under development is the best means of
defense against the threat of missile attack. I know you do not
want to talk about them, but missile defense systems have to be
able to defeat countermeasures.
I do not know enough to know whether or not the
countermeasures envisioned by Dr. Garwin are art projects or
realistically within the grasp and reach of the Koreans, or the
Iraqis, or anyone else we are immediately concerned about. I
just do now know, and I am going to ask about that at some
point, and ask Dr. Graham, who is a very knowledgeable fellow,
whether they are within their grasp and whether it is something
we should be concerned about.
But the missile defense system, it seems to me, needs to be
able to defend against the most likely ICBM payloads, including
chemical or biological bomblets. Now, I assume that that was
within the competence of the very nations that we are most
concerned about, I assume that was part of the threat, but I
may be mistaken, so I would like to talk about that as well,
and whether or not the proposed system that we are talking
about, and Dr. Wright was critiquing, is ineffective or
effective against such attacks.
The most likely missile attacks against the United States
territory, at least I have been schooled to believe over the
last couple of years, are from cruise missiles or short-range
ship-borne missiles, and yet the proposed system, I am under
the impression, cannot even begin to deal with those.
I, by the way, truly appreciate all four of you being here.
You are an incredibly competent panel, with differing views,
which is the most helpful to us, quite frankly, at least to me.
Mr. Chairman, I will cease my statement at this time, but one
of the things I would like to do when it comes my time to
question is ask each of them to respond to the other's
comments, because I, at least, am more likely to learn a little
more that way than with my prepared questions.
But let me close by saying that the thing that I have yet
to fully understand, and maybe we can flush out in this
question and answer period, is what each of you believe to be
the threat, not generically, but specifically, what do you
believe the threat is that warrants or would warrant our
building a missile defense system. It seems to rest upon the
notion that there is some madman in Iraq or a madman in Korea
who, not withstanding the fact that he knows his country will
be obliterated, will nonetheless feel he has the capacity to
threaten us by saying, ``I will strike Hawaii unless you do the
Now, I assume that is the premise upon which most of this
is based, because if we assume people are rational, as Russian
dictatorial bad guy leaders were for 50 years, the threat of
use of nuclear weapons against us, which was fully within their
capacity, was always viewed as not likely. That was because of
deterrence: they knew that we would be able to visit an equally
monstrous reign of firepower upon them in response to that
which they could us.
My core question is: Does this current threat assume,
General Piotrowski and others, that there is an irrational
leader in the countries we are concerned about, or is it
premised upon the notion that there is a rational leader who
cares about whether or not his country is obliterated. Have we
changed the equation?
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to speak.
[The prepared statement of Senator Biden follows:]
Prepared Statement of Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you also for giving me the lead-time
to invite two of our five witnesses today--Drs. Richard Garwin and
David Wright. I look forward to hearing from all of today's witnesses,
of course. I am very interested in their views regarding our
technological progress toward the goal of a national missile defense,
as well as their thoughts on what technical challenges remain to be
The status of our ABM capabilities will be a crucial factor in our
decision whether to deploy a national missile defense by the year 2005.
To put this hearing into context, the administration has repeatedly
said they will base their deployment decision on four criteria:
(1) whether a threat exists to the United States;
(2) the cost-effectiveness of missile defenses;
(3) whether the necessary technology exists to build a
defensive system; and
(4) whether the benefits of deploying that system outweigh
any possible negative effects it might have on U.S.-Russian
On the first point, the administration granted that a missile
threat exists during the lead-up to the March vote on the Cochran bill.
By including missile defense procurement money in the Future Years
Defense Plan, the administration also seems to have decided that the
proposed, very limited, National Missile Defense system will be worth
the money if it works.
But the jury is still out when it comes to the administration's
final two criteria, both of which were supported by the Senate in the
amended Cochran bill. It will not surprise my colleagues to hear that I
strongly doubt that those criteria can be met in the near term.
On the topic of today's hearing, let me be blunt. Nothing I have
heard so far has convinced me that we are ready to field an effective
missile defense by 2005, which is the administration's earliest target
date for deployment.
I am concerned, moreover, that we may deploy a national missile
defense for political reasons, without adequate testing. The 1998 Welch
Report--the product of an independent commission charged by the Defense
Department with assessing the missile defense testing program--warned
To succeed, the national missile defense program must meet a
series of formidable challenges. [It] should be restructured
now to provide for adequate, sequential development and
Without a rigorous development and testing program, the Welch panel
warned of a ``rush to failure.''
Events since then are not reassuring. The first intercept test of
the national system has been delayed until August because of fuel leaks
in the kill vehicle. Because of that delay, the administration may be
forced to decide on deployment after only three intercept attempts.
That is far too few tests on which to base such a major decision, at
least in my view.
Testing issues aside, I am concerned that our currently envisioned
system may be the wrong tool for the job. I remain skeptical that
national missile defenses currently under development are the best
means to decrease the threat of missile attack.
A missile defense system must be able to defeat countermeasures.
But the proposed system may be vulnerable to very simple
A missile defense system needs to defend against the most likely
rogue-state ICBM payload--namely, chemical or biological bomblets. But
the proposed system may be ineffective against such attacks.
The most likely missile attack against United States territory may
be from cruise missiles or short-range, ship-borne missiles, yet the
proposed system cannot even begin to defend against those attacks.
I wonder, therefore, whether early deployment of a national missile
defense system is a wise response to the emerging missile threat to the
I wonder whether we should not consider alternative means of
decreasing the missile threat, rather than spending billions of dollars
to deploy a ballistic missile defense that will only provide modest
benefits and may well fail the technology test--as well as the test of
maintaining U.S.-Russian strategic security, which we will discuss in
Again Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing the views of the
witnesses on these important technical issues. Today's hearing should
provide us a much clearer picture regarding some of the implications of
deploying missile defenses.
The Chairman. Senator Shelby was very good, I wish you
could have heard his statement----
Senator Biden. I do apologize.
The Chairman. Maybe you should read it, because he
responded to some of the very things that you had mentioned.
Senator Lugar, the distinguished Senator from Indiana, is
the former chairman of this committee, and a great Senator, a
great American, and I would like for him to make a statement,
if you wish.
Senator Lugar. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will
not ask a question, but I will in due course try to flush out
the threat. Senator Biden has talked about this a little bit.
From time to time we have been discussing the so-called
rogue nations, single shots, or fledgling programs of countries
that might gain some strategic advantage by having these
weapons, and General Piotrowski addressed this in a way.
I was curious as to the perception of the threat and what
program is being developed to counter it. Is the threat
strictly rogue nations or is it a more sizable threat? And with
that in mind, what effect is the ABM Treaty having on any of
the developments that you gentlemen are describing? To what
extent is it a hindrance?
Clearly, if, in fact, one of our objectives was to counter
the ICBM's of Russia, Russians would legitimately say that our
missile defense system came into force simply to try to take
away these potential threats and to change the strategic
posture. so I am eager to hear much more about the ABM Treaty
as a hindrance, whether it should be modified, appealed or does
it not make any difference, and is part of the difference,
perception of the threat to begin with, who we are after with
The Chairman. Now we will begin the questions; I suggest
that we take about 6 or 7 minutes each. I am no Henny Penny
talking about the sky dropping myself, and neither is or has
been the Rumsfeld Commission, which consists of some pretty
great Americans who do not imagine things falling from the
skies. They are pretty realistic, and they have served this
country well in various connections.
Dr. Graham and Dr. Garwin, you were both members, I
believe, of the Rumsfeld Commission, or still are, and you both
agreed with the judgment that North Korea and Iran, and I
quote, ``Would be able to inflict major destruction on the
United States within about 5 years of a decision to acquire
such a capability,'' is that correct? Just 2 months after your
report, North Korea launched a Taepo Dong-I missile. The United
States intelligence community has warned that this missile
could be used, ``To deliver small payloads to ICBM ranges.''
Now, my question is: Do you agree that this demonstrates an
intent or even a possible intent by North Korea to acquire a
missile capability to threaten the United States? Dr. Graham,
you first, and then Dr. Garwin.
Dr. Graham. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me respond to
that, and also to Senator Biden's question about the
rationality of the leadership. I think there is an argument
that can be made over the irrationality of the North Korean
leadership, and what we are really dealing with there is a
hostage population with a despotic government, but even on an
irrational basis, they realize, the North Koreans realize that
the greatest threat to their regional aspirations is the
presence of the United States in South Korea, and Japan, and
elsewhere in Asia, and our ability to move into those areas
They also realize that we put great weight on our ability
to build alliances and work cooperatively with other countries
in a given region, such as Asia, and a rational use for
ballistic missile and other military capability, but
particularly long-range ballistic missile forces that can
strike Japan, South Korea, and the United States, is to
dissuade the U.S. from taking an active role militarily in
conflicts in the region, and particularly in thwarting our
ability to build alliances in the region.
I happened to live in Japan in 1948 through 1950, and was
there during the start of the Korean War, and I remember
hearing threats by the North Koreans that they were going to
bomb Japan, because we were basing our military operations out
of Japan at the time. They were not able to do it then. There
is absolutely no question that they can do it with ballistic
missiles, and I am sure that would give the Japanese and other
allies great pause in thinking of letting the United States use
those areas and in joining in alliances with the United States
should the North Koreans try military action on their
I think the threat in the nearest term form and easiest one
to deploy is the one that the Rumsfeld Commission and Dr.
Garwin described, which is ship-based ballistic missiles that
could be shot from off our shores into our population and
industrial centers, Scud missiles work just fine for that, and
we have no defense against those today, and no defense against
them planned under the ABM system.
The ABM system that we are seeing being developed today is
a very stylized system designed to conform to the very limiting
constraints of the ABM Treaty, and among other things, that
treaty prohibits sea-based defenses, it prohibits air-based
defenses, base-based defenses, it prevents multiple defensive
sites on the land, and, therefore, we are treaty constrained
not to protect ourselves through the shorter range threats that
Dr. Garwin was describing, and also can arguably be said to
protect us or to prohibit us from deploying launch-phased,
boost-phased defenses, which are very effective against
virtually all countermeasures, and in particular, the early
release submunitions that he described.
So our ABM system design that the United States is
currently pursuing is, in my view, a step in the right
direction, but one with substantial deficiencies that need to
be filled out before we have a comprehensive missile defense
capability, and the limitations on it are primarily driven by
the ABM Treaty today.
The Chairman. Thank you very much. I want the timekeeper to
be sure that Dr. Garwin gets equal time.
Dr. Garwin. Certainly, the Taepo Dong-I launch of August
31, 1998 shows progress and intent on the part of the North
Koreans. When the United States expressed its displeasure,
North Korea responded that they need the money, and they do
sell their ballistic missiles.
They are a big proliferator, they are not a member of any
regime that keeps them from doing it, they make money out of
it, and they are very short of money.
Now, we do not have a lot of money, but we have a lot more
than the North Koreans, and I think that we ought to see what
kind of international or bilateral agreement could be
formulated that would prevent the development in North Korea of
longer-range ballistic missiles, and might even tone down or
eliminate the development of shorter-range missiles.
But the ABM Treaty does not stand in the way of defending
coastal cities against short-range ballistic or cruise
missiles. That would be done locally. It would be done with
within-the-atmosphere interceptors. Patriot might do that quite
What stands in the way is the demand that we protect every
square inch of the 50 United States, and that is a big problem,
because they could always find a place that was undefended and
attack it, although that would not make sense from their point
of view, and would not cause much damage, from our point of
So I think that if we look at the threats that exist, the
threats that are easiest to pose, we ought to start working on
the cruise missiles against coastal cities, including Hawaii,
and the short-range ballistic missiles.
The national missile defense is going to stand in the way
of doing the right thing, because it takes so much of our
attention and of our effort, and it will invariably evoke
arguments that ``we are spending so much money on it, it must
be effective.'' Economists always say that everything has its
price, and its price determines its value. Apologies to
economists who may be watching.
The Chairman. Very well. I think we ought to try to finish,
at least on my time, and I will not take a next round, would
you like to respond to the gentleman, Dr. Graham?
Senator Biden. Mr. Chairman, if I may, I would like you to
take more liberty. There are only three of us here, and I think
if you can get an interchange going----
The Chairman. That is exactly what I want to do.
Senator Biden [continuing]. I do not think you should be
constrained by the time, with all due respect.
The Chairman. Well, I think that is a good idea. General,
General Piotrowski. Well, I would like to make a few
comments. First, Mr. Chairman, let me say what I do agree with.
I do agree that countermeasures can evolve. I do agree that
testing is important, and certainly that should be foremost in
the development of this program, adequate testing to ensure an
understanding of the reliability, but let me comment to some
other points that were made.
Senator, you asked about rational versus irrational.
Senator Biden. I am serious about it. I am not trying to be
General Piotrowski. No, no, I want to respond to that in a
serious fashion. I never believed that the Soviets would act
irrationally during the time that I was CINCSPACE, CINCNORAD,
and had to worry about an attack on North America and my advice
to the President. I do not believe that that situation exists
any more, and I have perhaps a different understanding of
irrational versus rational behavior.
We tend to analyze behavior based on our Western moors and
our Western values. I have come to historically look at what
was perceived to be irrational behavior historically in war,
and when you look at it from the part of the actor who was
believed to be irrational, you can find that they chose to die
rather than live under the conditions that were forced upon
A very good historical exam, sir, are our Forefathers, who
chose to take on the British empire when we barely had a toe-
hold or maybe a finger-hold on this continent and declared war
on the British empire. I am sure that most civilized nations in
Europe felt that that was totally irrational, but it was our
Do systems evolve? Yes, they do. I do not recall in my 38
years of historical military activity that we ever feel that a
system that was capable of defeating or even taking on an equal
footing, threats that could be imagined. The F-15, for example,
when it was fielded, it is not the aircraft that exists today,
which is far more capable.
The F-16, when it was fielded, did not have a night
capability, did not have a good precision bonding capability.
That has evolved over time. None of our systems had adequate
electronics countermeasures to take on the threats that would
evolve, the SA-4 or the SA-6, and on, and on, and on.
Our systems have evolved to meet the threats that have
evolved. I believe that there is a threat today. I believe that
whether there is intent or not, that can change in an instant.
It can change with a leader. It can change with an event. We
have always dealt in military capability against other military
system capabilities, not so much with their intent, but their
Senator Biden. Well, General, if I could interrupt just a
second, I can recall that years ago there was a national forum
put together, a series of debates with Admiral Zumwalt, Paul
Warnke, Dr. Teller, and myself, and they set up these debates
around the country, and 3,000 or 4,000 people showed up for
these discussions, and it was about arms control, generically
and specifically the SALT treaties.
One of the things that always fascinated me--and I knew he
said it with every ounce of earnestness, he believed it--was
that Dr. Teller, whom I certainly could not match in terms of
knowledge of any of the systems that we were talking about,
used to say the reason why we have to assume that the threat of
a counterattack by the United States and the devastation it
would bring upon the Soviet Union was not credible--he argued
it was not credible that deterrence was working--was that the
Soviets had demonstrated they were prepared to lose 20 million
people during World War II and, therefore, they were ready to
do it again. Yet, 50 years of history demonstrated that the
Soviet leadership, although they imprisoned the people, were
fairly conservative in how they acted.
I am not trying to be argumentative. I truly find myself at
a loss when I hear Dr. Graham's arguments that the Japanese
would not likely form an alliance with us, knowing that they
could be more likely to be struck if they were cooperating with
us. Everything in history demonstrates the exact opposite: that
the Japanese, or the Koreans, knowing that they are vulnerable
with or without us now, as a consequence, would find it very
much in their interest to have an alliance with us.
It seems that the assertions, although theoretically
rational, fly in the face of historical analysis and human
behavior. Our Founding Fathers were not worried that all
Americans, their sons and daughters, would be obliterated if,
in fact, they declared war. What they were most concerned
about, from historical analysis, as you know, General, is that
they, those who signed the Declaration of Independence, would,
in fact, be hung on the gallows, since over 50 percent of the
people who lived here then did not share their view.
The idea of mutually-assured destruction is something that
I understand is now sort of out of vogue.The premise upon which
some of this current concern is based, at least, is that there
will be a North Korean leader who would threaten to hit Hawaii
unless all American troops leave South Korea, for example, he
threatens Hawaii unless we agree to send food aid, or threatens
Hawaii unless we do the things he wants us to do, even though
he would possibly put his entire country, himself, and all his
people--whom he does not care about, theoretically, or at least
apparently--in jeopardy of being literally obliterated.
I have trouble with that equation. But I am speaking more
about what I think than listening to what you have to say. I
just do not see how they equate, our Founding Fathers and the
obliteration of an entire nation.
The idea is that somebody is going to come along and say,
``Hawaii goes unless you give us the following,'' or some
variation of that, or that Japan will say, ``Look, United
States, they now have this missile capacity, they can strike
every city in Japan now. We want you out of here, because we
are going to capitulate. We want to cut a deal right now with
It seems to me to fly in the face of modern Eastern history
as well as European history, of all history. I have seen
nothing to indicate that people would react that way, whether
it was in 1897, in 1917 or in 1948, I do not see anything that
suggests otherwise, and I am searching for it, because I truly
believe if we could put a shield up that protects against the
threat that we are now talking about, I would be all for it,
but I do not see how we get from here to there.
I am talking too much. I yield to the Chairman. I would
like your response.
Dr. Graham. Well, you raised a question on the motives of
the leader of North Korea, and I do not claim to be an expert
on that, I am not sure if anybody understands him, but one
thing we have taught him to this point is, at least, that even
with the poorest, most isolated country in the world, if he
just goes to the trouble of attempting to develop a small
number of nuclear weapons, we will engage him as a serious
power, provide him with large quantities of fuel oil, provide
him with a promise to build two very large nuclear reactors in
his country, which he has got the infrastructure to use, and
provide all the funding for that in the course of that process.
So it is clear that the North Korean militant acts in
ballistic missiles, in warheads for ballistic missiles, and
other military areas, are benefiting North Korea today.
Senator Biden. I think that is true, Doctor, but how does
that translate into the assumption that he would use them? I
think part of the reason we do that is because guys like you
come along and tell us we may lose San Francisco if we do not
either build a system or stop him.
Dr. Graham. Absolutely. I would certainly not try to sit up
here and show you that the leader of North Korea would not use
nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles if he had those for any
of a range of purposes.
More importantly, though, the threat of those and having
that capability is enough to get him a lot in the world,
nuclear reactors, food, heat, oil today, and undoubtedly other
things in the future, and that in some ways is even more
valuable to him than the prospect of losing much of his country
to an all-out war. So it is not an irrational act on his part
to build those. It is an irrational act on our part not to
build defenses against them.
Dr. Garwin. Well, much of the support for the nuclear
reactors in North Korea I think stems from the vulnerability of
South Korea to North Korea, and the desire to hold the
peninsula together while North Korea evolves into a more
conventional country. Whether that will work or not, I do not
know. I hope it does.
There is a big difference between using nuclear weapons in
retaliation, in case you are destroyed as a country; that is
not desirable, but it is rationale. The United States and the
Soviet Union, when we had no defense against one another,
practiced that intensively for 50 years. There is a big
difference in between that and the first use of nuclear weapons
when you have only one or two, because the first use is surely
going to be the last use. Once you have done that, the game is
First of all, it may not work. We have lost three modern
Air Force boosters in the last months, something that we
thought we knew how to do. Who believes that a North Korean
ICBM is going to work perfectly every time they light the
torch; and if they try to send it and it does not work, they
will lose the rest of their weapons as well; and if it does
work, they will lose the rest, even if that one comes over and
explodes, and we lose 100,000 people, or whatever the number,
depending on the accuracy.
So even if a country has nuclear weapons, even if it is not
the most rational in the world, it can still be deterred with
high probability. But my problem with the subject of this
hearing on the national missile defense is that it does not
really address this problem.
I understand General Piotrowski's statement about
countermeasures, and I have been in this business for a very
long time, but this is a countermeasure that is really easy.
The bomblets would be done independent, in my opinion, of the
presence of a defense.
They are to increase military effectiveness, and the
question of the enclosing balloon, well, at a later hearing I
think we could bring one in and seam it up on the floor, and
shrink it down on a mock reentry vehicle, and see whether it
Now, the one difference is that here we have an atmosphere,
every cubic yard of air weighs 2 pounds, and so we would have
to bring in enormous tanks to fill a balloon the size of this
room, but in space there is not any atmosphere, and it takes
only a few grams of gas. So that is why these things are so
much easier to do.
Our enclosing balloons that we have developed, but not
necessarily deployed, are not the simple ones that I proposed.
For various reasons, they are more complicated, but in this
case, the simple one would really work, and I think I could ask
General Piotrowski and Dr. Graham about that.
General Piotrowski. There is no argument that
countermeasures can be developed. I, again, like to use
historical examples. When the AWAC's was fielded I played a
large role in fielding at the E3A, back in 1976. Many
scientists of notable reputation at that time argued that it
was foolish to deploy the system, because radars are easily
jammed, and it would be jammed and useless.
Well, we have been through a number of wars since then, the
AWAC's are still flying, it is 23 years later, and it has never
been effectively jammed, even though we could go to Radio Shack
and buy a few components and show how easily it is jammed. It
has not been done.
The question is, should we field a defense against what
exists today and be able to evolve it over what will exist
tomorrow? My background tells me yes, and that it would be
difficult to explain to the American people, I am sorry we lost
Los Angeles, but we were waiting to develop against
countermeasures that we can envision in the future.
I think that is unacceptable, based on my background. I
have never known a weapons system that was fielded that was
able to counter the threats that could be perceived that would
exist in the next couple of years, and I do not see it
Senator Lugar [presiding]. Do you have any comment?
Dr. Graham. Yes. Thank you, Senator Lugar.
Countermeasures are serious issues that should be
considered in the design of any ballistic missile defense
system, there is no question about that. Most, if not all, of
the countermeasures that are discussed today, in fact, have
been on the books for decades, and are reasonably well
In fact, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
supports a small group called the Countermeasures Hands-on
Project, which is a third-world-like operation populated by
intelligent but relatively inexperienced young officers and
enlisted men, in which they try to develop these
countermeasures and test them to see how hard it is to make
them and what can be said about them.
This is something that we discussed in the Rumsfeld
Commission that I call ``Try Int,'' that is, if you want to
know you can do something or how your enemy might do something,
try it under the circumstances that he would do it under and
see how it works. In fact, even the balloon that Dr. Garwin
described was one of the ideas that the Countermeasures Hands-
on Project has tried.
In detail, of course, it is not as easy as it sounds, both
from the mechanization, but even more from the dynamics of the
balloon. While you might have a balloon shell encompassing a
heavier object like a reentry vehicle, you cannot change the
mass distribution substantially, and our radars are now able to
get very precise data on the dynamics of objects that they see.
So even if they cannot see inside the balloon, they can get
information on where the center of mass is, which is, in fact,
going to be the heavy warhead. So you go down into the
subtleties of this action, reaction, and that will continue
Our uniform experience in this is that countermeasures have
proven harder to make work well in our own efforts to build
them, both in the Countermeasures Hands-on Project, but more
generally with our ballistic missle force, than we anticipated,
and discrimination has proved to be less difficult than we had
Remember, what you are doing as a developing-world country
is you are betting your ability to deceive U.S. ballistic
missile defense systems in the radar bands, in the optical
bands, infrared, possibly ultraviolet, eventually from our
space platforms as well as our ground-based radars, against
their ability to fool these. We have so much more experience in
these areas and so much more technical capability in these
areas that that is an extremely risky bet for them, and one
which today I would bet on the side of the U.S. winning, and
that has certainly been our experience in recent ballistic
missile defense tests.
Senator Lugar. Well, thank you very much. It has been very
helpful in flushing out the countermeasure issue. Let me try a
broader question, and I would like each of you to comment. This
may stretch analogies too far, but so be it. We have been
having a debate last evening and this morning about Kosovo.
Essentially, in the conference with Senator Biden, Senator
Helms, and I participated with the President, he has stated
objectives for our country, and that is very important. This
would also be true of what we are talking about today, that we
try to define what it is we are attempting to do, and you
gentlemen have been helpful in that respect.
But nevertheless, in trying to meet the objectives, the
President has indicated that that planning for the use of
ground forces is not to be done, quite apart from deployment of
ground forces; that bombing missions will be conducted at
15,000 feet or higher to meet the problems of anti-aircraft
that cannot be suppressed sufficiently; only on clear days will
bombs be dropped where there is visual sight of the situation,
which rules out a good number of missions; the Kosovo
Liberation Army, or other such elements, would not be armed for
a variety of reasons; the independence of Kosovo is not our
objective but an autonomous province of Serbia, a country that
is certainly at war with people that are living in the country
So there are a number of constraints. Now, they all have
some rationale in terms of our foreign policy, our alliances,
our relationships with other countries, and the amount of money
we want to spend on the war, plus the casualties we want to
sustain, but they do lead one, at least, Senator Biden and I,
in our votes today, to wonder whether you can get there from
where we are.
In other words, would it now be a better idea to say to the
President, ``Mr. President, you are authorized to do what you
need to do, in order to be successful in this situation.''
Now, I have a feeling in this conversation about missile
defense, we have a similar predicament, in which we have had
constraints of money, the national will has never been exactly
clear, although it is being clarified by votes as they come
along, and maybe we have not quite defined the objectives
altogether. There are rogue states, and the possibility of
ICBM's that are still out there from Russia, and we have the
ABM Treaty, which has very considerable constraints.
Now, I just ask you, to what extent our program, whether we
are in the national missile defense or in subsidiary programs
dealing with countermeasures or developing, as Senator Biden
suggested, defenses against cruise missiles from the coast
quite apart from ICBM's, to what extent does the ABM situation
constrain what we need to do, or is it the other problem that I
sensed from General Piotrowski's testimony, that there often is
the case that if there is a national will to do something that
it is more likely to get done.
I think counter-testimony, maybe Dr. Wright, or maybe Dr.
Garwin saying, fair enough, but even if you want to do it very
badly, if technically you keep missing the bullets, and do not
do the proper testing, do not do enough of it, you cannot get
it done anyway, that there is sort of an American can-do spirit
that says ``That is just not so, we are Americans.''
If we want to do this sort of thing, take off the
constraints, spend the money, get the objectives broad enough
so that we sort of encompass all the threat, why we are going
to get it done. That is what I would like to believe.
On the other hand it appears that our policy now is
constrained in many ways by the ABM Treaty and our relationship
with Russia, and second, by the money problem. And probably
third, by a lack of confidence that has come maybe from lots of
test failures, that somehow this is not working out very well,
that the technical genius in this country, great as it may be,
is not all quite here to do that kind of thing, and, therefore,
it is convenient, in a way, to sort of approach this
So I hope we can make a little headway on it with the
thought that maybe you will stumble into it, and given the
timeframe of history, maybe no one will really develop much
more in that process anyway, that we have that kind of time.
I just want to get some feel from you, if you were
President of the United States and know what you know about
this threat, the timeframe, the problems we have in terms of
money, whether we have the technical skills, what should we be
doing, and should we be constrained by the ABM Treaty?
Is the Russian relationship that important in this, and if
it is, does this really mean that we are always going to be
working around the edges of a problem, trying to stay in
conformity, as we try to edge up to the rogue nation problem
and state that as our objective? Do you have any overall
comment about this sort of series of questions and thoughts?
Dr. Graham, can you give an answer to that?
Dr. Graham. Yes, Senator Lugar. I think there is no
question that we have the technical and industrial capability
to develop a much more substantial ballistic missile defense,
in some ways along the lines that Dr. Garwin has suggested, for
Senator Lugar. By more substantial, do you mean not only
the national missile defense, but also you picked up some of
Dr. Graham. Yes.
Senator Lugar [continuing]. The small nation's response,
the whole comprehensive bit?
Dr. Graham. Yes. You would include a greater emphasis on
countermeasure defense. Even there is some in the program
today, it could certainly be strengthened. It would include
defense against shorter range missiles, targeted at U.S.
territories, for example, Aegis-ship based defenses against
shorter and mid-range ballistic missiles, and without the ABM
Treaty we would certainly deploy more than one site against
long-range ballistic missile threats, and we would also, I
believe, should make a substantial attempt to add to the Aegis
and possibly other locations, such as the heart of Russia, very
close to North Korea, if the Russians will cooperate, the boost
phase defense, which is an extremely effective technique
against countermeasures, as Dr. Garwin described.
Senator Lugar. Would you pick up also whatever obligation
we have with Japan, in terms of missile defense of that
Dr. Graham. Yes, indeed. In fact, we are cooperating with
Japan. They have bought, I believe, Patriots already, are
considering the Aegis-based systems, and could acquire THAAD,
as could other countries in that region. But if the President
is going to make a sound decision on this, it seems to me to be
useful for him to go back to history and look at the great
successes we have had in major technical developments.
For example, the Minuteman system was technically more
challenging in many ways than this. We decided to build an
unattended intercontinental ballistic missile. That was
It would have solid propellant from missiles at all stages,
so it would be ready at very short notice; hence, its name
Minuteman. That was new. It would be based in holes in the
ground, silos, which is the most difficult sort of structure to
fire a ballistic missile from, because you cup the missile as
it comes out of the silo with the heat of the first stage
engine, and it would have nuclear weapons on it, so it would be
an unattended nuclear weapons system.
All of those were new characteristics, and yet, General
Shriever had a clear mandate that went from him to the
Secretary of the Air Force, to the Secretary of Defense, to the
President, that said, do it, take what national resources you
need to build a viable system, and build it as rapidly as you
can, and in a little over 4 years, he went from start to a
full-scale engineering development, to the initial operating
capability, which was, I believe, ten or twenty missiles
deployed in their silos. He built all the infrastructure for
that, the bases, the training facilities, the logistics, and so
on, and had the whole system deployed in very few years.
That, I think, is a good example for a national missile
defense system, but if he had constraints such as those that
the ABM Treaty imposed on national missile defense, I believe
there is no way that he could have developed that system at
all, much less in the timeframe that he did.
I liked Dr. Garwin's interpretation of the ABM Treaty much
better than the interpretation I have seen by the State
Department, the compliance review group, and everybody else,
but unfortunately, they are the government and he is not.
There would be very strong arguments made against, for
example, defense against the shorter range missiles, and you
can see it in article 1, section 2, which is the Russian's
favorite part of the ABM Treaty, which says, ``Each party
undertakes not to deploy ABM systems for the defense of the
territory of its own country and not to provide a base,''
whatever that is, ``for such a defense, and not to deploy ABM
systems for defense of an individual region, except as provided
for in article three of this Treaty,'' which at the time of the
treaty was the capital or ballistic missile field.
So that essentially imposes a constraint against any kind
of a territorial defense, and that is what we are living with
Senator Lugar. General, do you have a comment?
General Piotrowski. Yes. I will make them brief, sir. I
believe that as long as we have no defense against ballistic
missiles, it makes them very attractive to people who either
want to blackmail us or wish us ill. Certainly, they are
immutable today, and they will remain immutable until we field
a system that changes that chemistry.
With regard to retaliation, I think people who believe
strongly their feelings about retaliation, it is my conviction
that, and I think you illustrated it, sir, in your comments
about how carefully we are working in Kosovo to prevent the
loss of innocent lives, I believe strongly that if a nuclear
weapon was detonated in Los Angeles that we would retaliate,
and if it came from Pyong Yang, we would retaliate against
Pyong Yang, but I am not sure we would use a nuclear weapon and
kill 8 million or 9 million people who are believed innocent,
because it is the dictator, Kim Il Sung, who would push the
button, not 8 million people who live in Pyong Yang, and do not
believe the retaliation would take that form. We would
retaliate. We would go in and I think we would root out the
evil, but I am not convinced in my mind, in my lifetime, that
we would retaliate with nuclear weapons.
Senator Lugar. You may be right, but the whole idea with
the Soviet Union for 50 years was they were certain they would.
In other words, there would not be some humane thought about
Moscow at that point.
General Piotrowski. Yes, sir, and I would agree that
historically that seemed to work, but I do not believe that
either side was every pushed to the point where that might have
even been considered.
I think we robusted each other. If we had been in an all-
out tactical nuclear war in Central Europe, and perhaps one
side was on the brink of loss, that might have been a thought,
but I do not think we ever came to the point where that was
even considered, but that is an opinion, not a fact.
I believe that we have the ability to develop a system
capable of defeating the threat that we see today that will
evolve into the capability to defeat threats in the future.
That would require severe changes to the ABM Treaty as it
exists today, as Dr. Graham has pointed out.
I think that we could do useful things if we wanted to
start deployment and said, as President Kennedy said, we would
put a man on the moon by the end of the decade and return him
to earth, we would do things differently and more meaningfully
than are being done today. For example, we know how to build an
X-band radar that can track and discriminate. That radar, if
fielded today, at a site that we believed that we were going to
deploy, could do useful work in space, in monitoring our own
test RV's, and on, and on, and on.
I would field the command and control element in Cheyenne
Mountain so that the operators could gain confidence as they
used the radar, and then use simulators or emulators to fly out
what we thought a ballistic missile interceptor would look like
to gain confidence in the system, and to evolve that system to
meet the threats that were extant when we were ready to deploy
interceptors, and I believe that eventually we would evolve to
a space-based system probably using lasers, where we had speed
of light, and we could defeat systems early in the boost phase
so they would not go far beyond their launch sites, and could
defeat all of the countermeasures and all of the heinous
weapons that one could think of, because they would be
encapsulated in the ballistic missile when it was destroyed in
boost. Sir, that ends my comments.
Senator Lugar. Dr. Garwin.
Dr. Garwin. Well, to go back to the 1972 ABM Treaty, we did
not enter into that lightly. We did it because, although we
could see that we could defend against the existing Soviet
threat, if we fielded a defense, we saw that threat expanding
without bound. We knew what we were doing in order to counter
the ballistic missile defense system that the Soviet Union had
deployed around Moscow, and Moscow, in case nuclear war came,
would have been destroyed much more thoroughly than if there
had been no defense against it.
So that is the problem with trying to build a defense
against hundreds of nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles from
Russia. The problem is that there would not be hundreds, there
would be thousands, and if we look at space-based lasers, for
instance, we discussed this 15 years ago, and it is very easy
to destroy these space components.
In fact, even if there are thousands of space-based
interceptors, it is a lot easier to destroy them from the
ground one at a time, soon after they are put in orbit, than it
is to maintain them in orbit ready to be used at a moment's
So the ABM Treaty, as I have explained, does not in any way
inhibit our protection right now of U.S. cities against short-
range, ship-launched cruise or ballistic missiles. It has
nothing to do with that. It was against strategic ballistic
missiles, which are either of ICBM range or long-range missiles
launched from submarines.
I think that the ABM Treaty could use some updating, but
rather than go in and say we want to be freed from the
constraints of the ABM Treaty, we ought to have a specific
proposal for Russia and now the other partners to the ABM
Treaty. This proposal, in the case of boost-phase intercept,
would use not cruisers, but military cargo ships, because we
need to put large interceptors, much larger than the ones that
fit into the vertical launch systems of ordinary military
ships. We do not need very many of these.
I think that a lot of the support for national missile
defense comes from a feeling that we could, in fact, deploy an
effective defense against the Chinese ballistic missiles,
because there are fewer than 20 of them, and as I indicated, we
plan to build 75 ground-based interceptors even with this
preliminary C-1 system.
So China would see that we are serious about a system which
they would have to believe would eliminate their deterrent, and
that is a sure way to get them to build more, and to get them,
in addition, to work on the countermeasures, which there would
be no reason to work on now, so presumably they have not
deployed very many of them, since we have no defensive system
Senator Lugar. Dr. Wright.
Dr. Wright. Let me make a couple of comments. One, I think
it is fair to say that the kind of technology that is being
developed for the system really is remarkable, so I do not
think that the implication is that somehow U.S. technological
efforts are not really first rate. I think they are.
The problem is that you do not have a clear technical
objective of the program, and I think that that is the key
difference with the Apollo program. It was clear that you had a
well-defined technical problem there. As people used to like to
say, the Moon did not fight back when you were trying to land a
person on the Moon, and I would say to a large extent the same
is true of the analogy with the Minuteman missile. Again, I
think that was a remarkable bit of technology, but it had
clearly stated goals that were not changing as you went
through, and that is a very big difference in this case. You
are not exactly clear what you are going to be shooting at. The
parameters of the defense of the threat are going to be
Second, I would like to say just a couple of words about
the blackmail scenario that has been talked about here a couple
of times. The concern is that if there were a threat of a use
of one of these weapons that blackmail would tend to limit U.S.
freedom of action, and the question is, well, what happens to
that scenario if the defense that you have put up is less than
Would U.S. political leaders have enough confidence in the
effectiveness of the missile they would put up, especially
against weapons armed with weapons of mass destruction, to be
able to ignore the threat that was made, and completely restore
U.S. freedom of action, and I think the answer to that is
simply no, that missile defenses in the end do not
significantly change the blackmail scenario that has been laid
Finally, I think it is worth keeping in mind that in any
policy decision you are forced to make difficult tradeoffs, and
I think that is a real lesson of Kosovo, that the U.S. is
trying to balance a lot of different issues here.
Two points there: One is I think that that means it is very
crucial to understand how well a national defense system would
work, what its effectiveness in the real world would be
expected to be, because that is the thing that ultimately you
are going to have to decide whether that is worth the tradeoff,
in terms of dollars, in terms of reaction by the countries, in
terms of other things that you would like to do.
But also it seems to me that, from my point of view, the
biggest threat the United States faces today is the very large
nuclear arsenal that remains in Russia. You had mentioned that.
At current force levels that the Russians deploy, I do not
think the kind of defenses that the U.S. are talking about
would be a major concern, but that is not where I would like to
end up. I would like to leave the opportunity open and make
real progress toward getting the Russian nuclear arsenal down
to as small a number as possible.
My concern is that Russia has shown that it is concerned
about U.S. missile defenses, and if that turns out to be U.S.
deployment of missile defenses, it turns out to be a barrier to
getting to low levels of Russian nuclear forces, than I would
say that that is not a good tradeoff, and I would hope that at
some point in the future, we would be holding a hearing like
this, at which point Russia would say that they are not
concerned about U.S. missile defenses, and the kind of
tradeoffs you would have to make in the policy world would be
very different, but I do not believe that is where we are
Senator Lugar. I would agree that we are not there. I would
think, however, that Dr. Garwin makes an interesting point, and
you cannot draft this proposal today, but a specific proposal
to the Russians, with regard to this, seems to me to be in the
realm of the doable, not immediately, maybe not in this period
when we are dealing with Kosovo, but at some stage.
The question I think maybe Senator Biden and I would have
is, what is the proposal. This hearing is very helpful in sort
of flushing out all the questions that ought to be asked, but
in due course we need to have some more thoughts, with each of
you as experts, as to what it is that we want to do, and then
to what extent is the Minuteman analogy applicable? In other
words, to what extent is this a question of priority, in terms
of our own national will?
I gather for the moment it is one of the things we are
concerned about. From time to time we think about the potential
for Hawaii, or Alaska, or someplace to be attacked, or we sort
of know out there that the North Koreans are difficult, and
maybe others, but it sort of filters in with a lot of other
things we are thinking about.
Maybe there is never any way that you have a prioritization
of 1 to 10, but on the other hand, each of us have to make
judgments on appropriations. Maybe the two of us are not the
instrumental persons in ranking them, but we can speak up and
we all do. To the extent that we really do not understand the
nature of the threats or which ones we ought to prioritize----
Senator Biden. Mr. Chairman, on that point, if we could
followup--and I hope you are willing to keep this going a
little bit longer, because at least I find it enlightening--I
truly appreciate the four of you being here. I mean, you are
the experts. Several of you are among the most renowned
scientists in the world. You guys know what you are doing.
I try to distill this after 27 years of dealing with what
one of our deceased colleagues used to call the nuclear
theologians. We used to go through this logic about strike,
counterstrike, what would happen, how many losses, et cetera. I
would sit there in these hearings and meetings with some of you
and your predecessors, and feel like I was reading Suma
Theologica again and arguing about how many angels fit on the
head of a pin, and motivations, and it gets very complicated.
But if I can stand back for a second and distill it this way, I
think it gets at what Senator Lugar has been flushing out:
Were Senator Lugar President and I Secretary of State, what
if I came to you guys and said, ``Look, I need you now to
prioritize for us. Do not tell me the politics; let me do the
politics. Do not tell me whether it can or cannot be done. Do
not consider the limitations that are imposed by the ABM
Treaty. Tell me, in the following list of priorities, what are
the greatest threats we have?''
For example, Dr. Garwin, I believe that if, within the near
term, the scientific community came and the defense community
came to us and said, ``Look, the single, best immediate way to
deal with one of the rogue states, North Korea, is to put in
the Vladivostok area a system that could eliminate the threat
in the boost phase,'' I believe with every fiber in my being,
after 27 years of being a part of negotiating teams, or
witnessing the aftermath of negotiation with the former
Communist Party in the Soviet Union and the present leadership,
that with serious and hard negotiation it could be made clear
to them that it was in their interest as well as our interest
that that missile defense be done on Russian soil.
Now, if, in fact, you were to say to me that, that is the
cleanest--do not give me your politics, let me do the politics;
I stand for reelection, you all do not--if you were to tell me
that is the cleanest scientific way to eliminate that threat,
then President Lugar would have something to work on.
We have to understand what is underlying this debate. There
are those like Senator Helms who truly believe that, and he
quotes it and he means it, ``We have never lost a war and never
won a treaty,'' so we are divided in this body, as we have been
for the last 30 years or more, 27 years I have between those
who think even arms control, notion of arms control is a bad
idea, and those who think arms control is a means by which we
can help maintain our security.
But when we sit and listen to all of you, what we do not
say to you is, a lot of people in this debate do not trust the
motivation of those advising us. That is because some would
listen to what was said today and say what this is really
about, is not the rogue states. This is really about Russia.
This is really about moving on to a position in which we have a
missile defense system that can render harmless Russia's
nuclear arsenal, because we believe the Russian bear is going
to reassert himself as an imperialistic aggressor in the world
community, and we should stamp it out now.
There are others who believe that the reason for the
underlying debate about the missile defense system is really
China, that China is the place where my grandchildren are going
to face a problem and a threat, and so what this really is
about is getting a jump on the ability of China ever to be able
to threaten the United States in any way with nuclear,
biological, or chemical weapons.
Then there are others who believe you mean what you say,
that what you are really talking about is dealing with the
immediate concern of the rogue nations. So I do not think we
ever honestly say that out loud, but in a debate on the floor,
in our caucuses, at least in the Democratic Caucus, that is the
kind of interplay you get.
So it gets very hard not only to determine the objectives,
Dr. Wright, because the truth is, politically, at least, that
there are different objectives behind the support for an ABM
system of any kind.
So back to my question. Given the technological shortfalls
that we all acknowledge thus far--notwithstanding, General,
your point that if you set a goal and we have no constraints on
it, we are more likely to achieve it than not--but given the
technological shortfall, do any of you believe that the
proposed national defense should be deployed? Or is the real
argument whether to build a sea-based or a spaced-based
ballistic missile defense?
I listen to you, Dr. Graham, and it seems to me that in
effect you are arguing for a wholesale rejection of ABM. I
respect that, but if I listen to you, you seem to be arguing
that ABM should be rejected wholesale. Others of you are
saying, well, no, it may need to be amended.
So my question again is, to repeat it, do you believe the
proposed system should be deployed, or should the real
argument, the honest argument, be whether or not to build a
sea- or a space-based ballistic missile system and sort of
Dr. Graham. Senator, when you say I think I reject the ABM,
I presume you mean the ABM Treaty.
Senator Biden. Yes. I am sorry. I meant to say the Anti-
Ballistic Missile Treaty. I may be wrong, but it seems that you
would prefer that it be abrogated, period. If you were advising
President Lugar, my guess is you would say, ``Mr. President,
abrogate the treaty, period. Get out of it.''
Dr. Graham. That is absolutely right, Senator Biden. I
would say, get out of that treaty. You can always conceive of
some other treaty you might want to be in, but in this area, I
believe the U.S. would be far better off without that treaty in
any of its current manifestations.
Senator Biden. Should we be going to sea-based and space-
based missile defense?
Dr. Graham. I believe we should, Senator Biden, and I do
not believe it is an either/or question. I think there is merit
to building a land-based component to the national missile
defense; although, I would not constrain it to one site.
Senator Biden. But if you did what General Piotrowski is
saying, and that is, set a goal, an objective, listening to
you, I doubt whether you would say that the present land-based
system being contemplated, if that were the only thing that was
going to be done, is worth it.
It seems to me what you are saying is that it is worth it
as a component of a larger goal. I am trying to understand the
goal, because General, you have impressed me with your point
about setting a goal, making a judgment, and if we do that then
I am getting mixed signals here, because it does not seem
as though any of you are saying that this system in and of
itself--assuming we can negotiate with the Russians and the
successor states an agreement that what is contemplated here is
within the ABM Treaty--would you do it if that was all you were
going to do, Dr. Graham?
Dr. Graham. Having the experience of--even the current ABM
system I believe would benefit the United States. One of our
greatest shortfalls is that we have not developed, constructed,
and deployed any ABM system for 25 years, so on that basis, on
a technical basis, I would say, keep going, do it, but I would
also argue extremely strongly that this is a component and not
a particularly well-designed component of a territorial defense
capability, and our goal should be to provide for the defense
of U.S. territories against ballistic missiles and, by the way,
as Dr. Garwin mentioned, against cruise missiles and a lot of
other threats that we have to worry about, but I would say, do
this, but do not make this the only thing you do.
If it is the only thing you are going to do, consider it an
exercise in bringing up our technology, our industrial base,
and so on, but do not imagine for a minute that it is going to
protect you against the full range of ballistic missile threats
that, for example, we identified on the Rumsfeld Commission.
Senator Biden. Mr. Chairman, this is the last iteration of
this question I will try. If the Lord Almighty came down and
sat here in the chairman's seat and said, ``Gentlemen, I can
assure you that if we do this, this is all we are ever going to
do in the near term,'' I doubt whether any one of you would
say, go ahead and spend the money to do this.
I understand the argument, and if the Lord came down and
said it is an open-ended deal, you would do this, you got the
old nose-under-the-tent, you would be able then to ramp up the
technology, you would be able to attract people back into the
program, the people we have lost, you would be able to get
things moving, you would get dollars spent, and that would lead
to the next thing, and then maybe more. But I guess what I am
saying is, it seems like an expensive gamble for something that
on its face technologically does not work, and in the near
term, even if it worked to specifications, could not do the
bulk of what you are most worried about, the most likely
I understand that dilemma for some of you: you have to
start somewhere. But if this is where you start and this is
where you end, it seems to me we have wasted a whole hell of a
lot of money when we could have been doing other things, and if
in the process the Russians overreact to this and conclude that
they should now end any discussion on a START II or START III
saying ``we are not destroying anything else''--at the end of
the day we spent a whole hell of a lot of money for something
that has actually increased the threat. That is because now,
the only outfit in the world at this moment that can, in fact,
destroy us, if they just launched them all,--although we would
get them, too--if they became irrational, the only outfit that
can truly destroy us--would, in fact, be more dangerous to us
than they are at the moment.
If anybody wants to respond to that, fine; if you do not, I
understand. But that is the dilemma I find myself in, in
wanting to support a system, as opposed to coming to President
Lugar and saying, ``Look, Mr. President, we can take care of
these several things that are immediate threats, and here is
how I propose it. If you can get the Russians to sign onto this
ABM Treaty of putting a defense system in Vladivostok, then you
will be able to take care of this piece now, and if you can get
them to do this, you can take care of that piece.''
Senator Lugar. Let us have Dr. Garwin's response here.
Dr. Garwin. I think we should separate the political from
the technical. My understanding of the political situation is
exactly yours, although I could not put it that well. The most
immediate result of abandoning the ABM Treaty would be to
abandon any hope of bringing Russian nuclear weapon holdings
down to a thousand or maybe even to one hundred, and that would
not be a good result.
On the technical side, I do believe that we ought to dis-
aggregate these things, but everybody is so used to decisions
taking decades or more that they do not have time to respond.
If you say North Korea is the problem, let us fix North Korea.
Then we will fix something else tomorrow, or next month, or the
Now, we did once deploy a ballistic missile defense system,
Safeguard, in Grand Forks, ND. It cost I guess about $21
billion in 1998 dollars. It was operational for a few months.
Even though one of the arguments for deploying it was learning
by doing, we did not want to learn any more after we had
deployed it, so we shut it down.
Very often these programs come to you prepackaged. Some
good things, some bad things. We are all familiar with that,
even on amendments to appropriations bills. But here there is
particular evidence, because whenever the national missile
defense is discussed, it is in these precise words, ``It would
have as its primary mission the defense of all 50 States
against a small number of intercontinental range ballistic
missiles launched by a rogue nation,'' and then General Lyles,
or whoever is proposing, goes on, ``such a system would also
provide some residual capability against a small accidental or
unauthorized launch of strategic ballistic missiles from China
or Russia. It would not be capable of defending against a
large-scale deliberate attack.''
Well, that subsidiary ``residual capability'' is a
requirement masquerading as an observation. Somebody has
decided that this is what is absolutely necessary, and to my
mind, this is the primary purpose of the national missile
defense; and by the way, since China can only launch its ICBM's
as a small launch and not a large-scale deliberate attack, then
China has every reason to believe that this system is oriented
Now, if that is what we want to do, then we ought to say
that is our purpose in building the system, and we ought to
consider what kind of countermeasures the Chinese can build to
such a system; and then I certainly agree, we do not want to
build this specific proposed system.
I think we should have a task force to look at the North
Korea problem and to see what we can do, maybe a U.S.-Russian
task force would even help, but we would go it alone, and look
at military cargo ships, and see which approach we want there,
and then move on.
Senator Lugar. Let me just ask for one more comment just to
complete the record. Obviously, this is a strong answer to
Senator Biden's question as to whether this particular
discussion today should proceed.
Do either you, Dr. Graham or General, have a comment in
defense of proceeding with this system?
General Piotrowski. Let me answer a slightly different
question, it is one that I think Senator Biden asked. I believe
an at-sea ballistic missile defense, if the focus was North
Korea, is a very sound approach. You would have to solve many
of the same technical problems, but you have a large thrusting
booster that is going to burn for 300 seconds, or 250 seconds.
You can put in a barge or surface ship, the capability to
defeat that, think such that I would have confidence in it. It
is a point solution, and one that could then go on from that
point solution as other things evolve. So I am not at all
against an at-sea solution for a specific capability. I accept
the fact that this is a very daunting and difficult political
issue as well as technical issue, but that is a useful solution
against a point problem.
Senator Lugar. But how about this NMD, should we proceed
with this, that is one of the basic questions of the hearing.
Do you have a final comment, sir?
Dr. Graham. Yes, Senator Lugar. Notwithstanding Dr.
Garwin's generous interpretation of the ABM Treaty with regard
to defense of our coastal cities, I believe that what we are
seeing now is about the best ballistic missile defense system
for the U.S. territory that we can build under the constraints
of the ABM Treaty and, in fact, even this system will violate
common interpretations of the ABM Treaty in several areas.
I believe we should build a more effective system. If this
is where we have to start under this administration and its
constraints, I believe it is worth starting. We will learn a
lot. We will make up for a lot of the damage done to our
technical infrastructure in this area over the last 25 years of
particularly not deploying ballistic missile defense systems.
But this is not an end-point issue. There is no silver
bullet in ballistic missile defense, or offense, for that
matter, and we are never going to get to the point where we say
OK, that is it, that is the ultimate system, we never have to
think about it again.
Like all other offense and defense interactions, it will be
a continual process of assessing the defense and see what needs
to be done to bring it into balance. I hope that someday we
will get to the point where we decide that the Soviet Union or
now Russia really does not have some kind of an innate
privilege to kill as many Americans as it wishes, whenever they
wish to, and that we do not have a built-in privilege of
killing as many Russians as we want to whenever the occasion
That was forced upon us by the invention of ballistic
missiles and nuclear warheads 50 years ago, and I think it is
something today that we can get out of with a determined
effort. The trouble is that we have gotten so accustomed to
that in mutual-assured destruction and other related
philosophies, that we forget that the problem is trying to
survive as a country and as nations, and not accommodating
ourselves to a threat and absorbing it, when, in fact, we can
defend ourselves against it, but the defense will be a
continuing process, it will have many components, and it will
have to evolve over time.
Senator Biden. I know you said the last thing, Mr.
Chairman, but can I just followup on one point that Dr. Graham
just made? If you could get the ABM Treaty amended to
accommodate the defense system that Dr. Garwin talked about,
and that is a sure defense, or a defense against cruise----
Dr. Garwin. We do not need amendments.
Senator Biden. Pardon me?
Dr. Garwin. We do not need amendments for that.
Senator Biden. No, but Dr. Graham thinks you do. If, in
fact, there was no question that that was allowed, either
because they agree it is allowed or we amended the treaty,
would that not be a preferable way to go than this, assuming
there was no question that the ABM Treaty permitted it? Which
would you prefer then?
Rather than assessing that you cannot do it, assume that
President Lugar gets it amended, or it is already permissible.
Which is preferable, in terms of the threat we are talking
about, at least the immediate short-term threat?
Dr. Graham. You would need to change more than that in the
treaty so that it did not interfere with our ability to provide
for a territorial defense. For example, you would have to
remove the clause in the treaty that says we cannot provide for
a territorial defense. You would also have to change the part
about where we can locate interceptors and where we can locate
radar sets to guide and the fire control solutions for the
Eventually, if you get to the point of the argument where
you say the ABM Treaty is not interfering with our ability to
build at least a light, that is, tens to hundreds, but not
thousands of warheads, ABM system, then I would say, OK, it is
a matter of indifference, because it is not blocking our
ability to do what we should do, at least at the level of the
Third-World threat, the level of the China threat, and the
level of the accidental or inadvertent Russia threat.
That would be a big step forward, in my view. If you can
arrange to amend the treaty so we are not constrained in that
direction, more power to you.
Senator Biden. But my point is, if you could, would you
then not go this route, but go the route that Dr. Garwin is
talking about? That is the point I am trying to get at. In
other words, every time I talk to people like you, Doctor, who
know so much more about the technology than I do, you give me
the political or the treaty constraints. Assume you did not
have that constraint, which of the two approaches would you
Dr. Graham. It is not an either/or situation. You would
certainly want to have a high priority on defending against
short-range ballistic missiles launched, for example, by ships.
That should be a high priority.
It is clear that North Korea, Iran, and other countries are
also developing longer- and longer-range ballistic missiles,
and you want to have at least a modest defense against long-
range ballistic missiles, so that does not become their attack
of choice. You also want to have a cruise missile defense.
So when you cast it as an either/or situation, it is not
the real-world problem. It is any more than having a, whether
you have a police department or a fire department in a town, it
is an either/or situation. You want to have them both. Here, we
should have the defenses that Dr. Garwin described, we should
have long-range defenses, and someday we should have space-
based defenses to help against some of the threats he described
earlier. You have to take all of those into account, and the
treaty blocks you in virtually all of those.
Senator Biden. Would you share this with the Russians?
Dr. Graham. What is the this in that statement?
Senator Biden. Everything. Everything that you are talking
about. Any system you built that dealt with missile defense.
The implication of your earlier statement was, we should end
the era where the Russians feel that they can at will destroy
Americans and we feel that at will we can destroy them.
Would you share the system with them, whatever anti-
ballistic missile system is developed?
Dr. Graham. I would share it with them in this way. Early
on, while they still have nuclear weapons, I would be glad to
share the functionality of the system, its capabilty to
intercept missiles. Later, when they did not have any nuclear
weapons, or any significant number, and we did not have any
significant number, then I would be willing to consider the
details of the system as well, but the more they know about the
details, the more they would know about how to overcome the
system, and I would reserve that to a later era.
Senator Lugar. Thank you very much, Dr. Graham.
Let me thank each one of you on behalf of the chairman and
the distinguished ranking member for the extraordinary
testimony and your willingness to work hypothetically through
each of our questions.
I think the hearing has been a very important one, and we
are glad that so many other Americans are sharing with us,
those in the audience in this hearing today, and those who have
watched the televised portion of this. We thank you for coming.
[Whereupon, at 12:34 p.m., the committee adjourned, to
reconvene at 10 a.m., May 5, 1999.]
S. Hrg. 106-339
BALLISTIC MISSILES: THREAT AND RESPONSE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
APRIL 15 AND 20, MAY 4, 5, 13, 25, 26, AND SEPTEMBER 16, 1999
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
56-777 CC WASHINGTON : 2000
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
JESSE HELMS, North Carolina, Chairman
RICHARD G. LUGAR, Indiana JOSEPH R. BIDEN, Jr., Delaware
PAUL COVERDELL, Georgia PAUL S. SARBANES, Maryland
CHUCK HAGEL, Nebraska CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut
GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
ROD GRAMS, Minnesota RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, Wisconsin
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas PAUL D. WELLSTONE, Minnesota
CRAIG THOMAS, Wyoming BARBARA BOXER, California
JOHN ASHCROFT, Missouri ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey
BILL FRIST, Tennessee
Stephen E. Biegun, Staff Director
Edwin K. Hall, Minority Staff Director
BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY: IS THE UNITED STATES READY FOR A
DECISION TO DEPLOY?
TUESDAY, MAY 4, 1999
Committee on Foreign Relations,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room
SD-562, Dirksen Senate Office Building, the Hon. Jesse Helms
(chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Senators Helms, Biden and Lugar.
The Chairman. Today's hearing is the third hearing in the
Foreign Relations Committee's series on the 1972 Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty. Today the committee will move from an
examination of the missile threat to a discussion of the
technological feasibility of missile defense.
We are privileged to have with us today to open this
hearing the very distinguished chairman of the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence, Senator Richard Shelby.
As chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Shelby
knows the urgency of the missile threat better than anyone
else, certainly anyone else in the Senate. As the senior
Senator from Alabama, home of the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization of the Department of Defense, he knows the
programmatic aspects of national missile defense inside and
out, and if you want to find out how much he knows, engage him
in a conversation. I do that occasionally, and I learn more
from Richard Shelby than anybody in this general field.
Following Chairman Shelby, we will hear from several other
distinguished experts: Dr. Bill Graham, former Director of the
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and
General John Piotrowski, former Commander in Chief of Space
Command. If I have mispronounced your name, I am sorry. We also
welcome Dr. Richard L. Garwin, a fellow at the Council on
Foreign Relations, and Dr. David Wright, a fellow at MIT.
As I noted, this hearing is devoted to an examination of
the technological feasibility of national missile defense, and
I am convinced that after years of investment in the SDI
Program, a national missile defense is eminently doable. The
United States has proven that missiles can be intercepted with
other missiles, but the task now is to do it consistently and
reliably. The task is also to make certain that we can
consistently strike incoming reentry vehicles even as other
countries take countermeasures to penetrate our defenses.
The technological path our NMD program is taking, since it
was first initiated by Dr. Graham under SDI, is the natural
course for all technological developments. Consider, for
example, the effort to break the sound barrier, and so forth
and so on.
In the interest of time, I am going to ask unanimous
consent, and I think I will get it, that the balance of my
statement be made a part of the record. Senator Shelby, we
welcome you and appreciate you coming.
[The prepared statement of Senator Helms follows:]
Prepared Statement of Senator Jesse Helms
Today's hearing is the third hearing in the Foreign Relations
Committee's series on the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty. Today the
committee will move from an examination of the missile threat to a
discussion of the technological feasibility of missile defense.
We are privileged to have with us today, to open this hearing, the
very distinguished chairman of the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence, Senator Shelby. As chairman of the Intelligence
Committee, Senator Shelby knows the urgency of the missile threat
better than anyone else. And as the senior Senator from Alabama--home
of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization of the Department of
Defense (BMDO)--he knows the programmatic aspects of national missile
defense inside and out.
Following Chairman Shelby, we will hear from several other
distinguished experts: Dr. Bill Graham, former Director of the White
House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and General John
Piotrowski, former Commander in Chief of Space Command. We also welcome
Dr. Richard L. Garwin, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations,
and Dr. David Wright, a fellow at MIT.
As I noted, this hearing is devoted to an examination of the
technological feasibility of national missile defense. I am convinced
that, after years of investment in the SDI program, a national missile
defense is eminently ``doable;'' in fact, the United States has proven
that missiles can be intercepted with other missiles. But the task now
is to do it consistently and reliably. And the task is to make certain
that we can consistently strike incoming reentry vehicles (RV's) even
as other countries take counter-measures to penetrate our defenses.
The technological path our NMD program is taking, since first
initiated by Dr. Graham under SDI, is the natural course for all
technological developments. Consider, for example, the effort to break
the sound barrier. Even as of the late 1940's, many scientists thought
this technically impossible. Yet we ultimately succeeded despite the
dangers, and failures, and--in this case--the tragic loss of life. Now
the sound barrier is broken routinely, day in and day out, by passenger
airplanes flying the Atlantic.
No doubt, we may hear today from scientists who don't think that a
national missile defense can be done successfully. But as we consider
these matters, I hope that the American people will recognize that the
fact that the U.S. is defenseless today has nothing to do with
technological issues. Instead, it has everything to do with political
willpower and adherence to a ludicrous arms control treaty.
The NMD program has had notable successes despite dramatic funding
cuts by the Clinton administration. Successes also have occurred in
theater missile defense programs which demonstrate the feasibility of
the same basic principles over 130 launches from 1960-1972.
So I must conclude that some who oppose NMD would have concluded at
the turn of the century that, given the early failures of Samuel
Langley and the Wright brothers, efforts to build an airplane should be
Now, before we turn to our first witness, I want to address the
matter of ``countermeasures.'' Some have begun putting forward the
argument that any NMD built can be defeated easily by countermeasures.
I must caution, however, that countermeasures are not a reality simply
because someone draws a picture of one.
I am confident that a good many scientists can draw equally as
compelling pictures of things to counter the counter-measures. But we
need not get into an ``art contest'' at this hearing. I hope we can
confine our discussion to the realm of the possible and not allow
flights of fancy to lead us to predict either that missile defenses can
do nothing to protect our country, or that they will be perfect in
affording such protection.
STATEMENT OF HON. RICHARD C. SHELBY, U.S. SENATOR FROM ALABAMA
Senator Shelby. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman. I
ask that my complete statement be made part of the record in
The Chairman. Without objection.
Senator Shelby. Mr. Chairman, it is a pleasure to appear
before the Committee on Foreign Relations as you continue your
series of hearings on missile defense. I believe that this
Nation needs a national missile defense system, and Mr.
Chairman, we need it now. The threat is real and can no longer
As this Nation formulates a national security strategy for
the uncertainty of the post-cold war world, one key assumption
which must be considered is that our future adversaries will
plan to attack the United States where we are most vulnerable.
Today the United States stands vulnerable to a ballistic
missile attack. Until recently, this fact was downplayed by
There was a presumption, and perhaps a hope, that no real
threat existed. As recently as 1995, intelligence estimates
were predicting that no credible ballistic missile threat from
other than the major declared nuclear powers would likely
appear before the year 2010.
However, last year the bipartisan Ballistic Missile Threat
Commission, lead by former Secretary of Defense, Donald
Rumsfeld, reached a very different conclusion. The commission
concluded that long-range missile threats to the United States
might materialize much earlier than had been predicted. The
report stated that within 5 years of a decision to do so, North
Korea and Iran might be able to deploy missiles of sufficient
range to strike parts of the continental United States, and
that Iraq may be able to do so within 10 years.
The Rumsfeld Commission also determined that countries may
be able to conceal ballistic missile development programs from
our intelligence assets until shortly before deployment. This
concealment will give the United States little or no warning of
an imminent threat, Mr. Chairman.
The events of the past year appear to validate the findings
of the Rumsfeld Commission and reinforce my belief that the
threat is real. This past July, Mr. Chairman, Iran launched a
900-mile range missile capable of striking Israel.
In August, North Korea fired a three-stage ballistic
missile over Japan that was estimated to have a maximum range
of 3,700 miles. If perfected, this missile could reach Hawaii
and Alaska, and just 10 days ago India and Pakistan each tested
intermediate-range ballistic missiles with ranges of over 1,200
Additionally, Communist China has developed a force of
ballistic missiles capable of striking the continental United
States, and as we are learning, China has been persistent in
its efforts to acquire advanced missile technology.
Mr. Chairman, how do we counter this threat? I recommend
two courses of action. The first was completed when the Senate
passed the National Missile Defense Act of 1999. This historic
yet simple piece of legislation, along with a similar measure
passed in the House, will make it the policy of the United
States to deploy as soon as it is technologically possible an
effective national missile defense system capable of defending
the territory of the United States against limited ballistic
The second course of action, Mr. Chairman, is to continue
our efforts to develop such a system. I support, as does a
recent report by the Kado Institute, the deployment of a
limited ground-based national missile system. If we continue
our investment in advanced technologies, an effective ground-
based system will soon be a reality.
Mr. Chairman, some opponents of the national missile
defense have argued that treaties and superior intelligence
gathering will protect this Nation from a future ballistic
missile attack. I do not agree.
A treaty must add to a nation's security, not limit it, and
as chairman of the Committee on Intelligence I can assure you
that although our intelligence gathering is very good, it is
not perfect by any means. I believe that the security of the
American people should not depend solely on our ability to
negotiate treaties or to conduct reconnaissance. We must have
the ability, I believe, Mr. Chairman, to defend ourselves from
the growing threat. The deployment of a limited ground-based
national missile defense system would provide that ability.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate what you are doing, and I
appreciate your time and your courtesy here today. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Senator Shelby follows:]
Prepared Statement of Senator Richard Shelby
Good morning Mr. Chairman, Senator Biden and members of the
committee. It is a pleasure to appear before the Committee on Foreign
Relations as you continue your series of hearings on missile defense. I
believe that this Nation needs a national missile defense system and we
need it now. The threat is real and can no longer be ignored.
As this Nation formulates a national security strategy for the
uncertainty of the post-Cold War world, one key assumption which must
be considered is that our future adversaries will plan to attack the
United States where we are most vulnerable. Today, the United States
stands vulnerable to a ballistic missile attack. Until recently, this
fact was downplayed by the Administration. There was a presumption and
a hope that no real threat existed. As recently as 1995, intelligence
estimates were predicting that no credible ballistic missile threat,
from other than the major declared nuclear powers, would likely appear
before the year 2010. However, last year the bipartisan Ballistic
Missile Threat Commission, led by former Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld, reached a different conclusion. The commission concluded that
long-range missile threats to the United States might materialize much
earlier than had been predicted. The report stated that within five
years of a decision to do so, North Korea and Iran might be able to
deploy missiles of sufficient range to strike parts of the continental
United States, and that Iraq may be able to do so within ten years. The
Rumsfeld Commission also determined that countries may be able to
conceal ballistic missile development programs from our intelligence
assets until shortly before deployment. This concealment will give the
United States little or no warning of an imminent threat.
The events of the past year appear to validate the findings of the
Rumsfeld Commission and reinforce my belief that the threat is real.
This past July, Iran launched the Shahab-3, a 900 mile range missile
capable of striking Israel. In August, North Korea fired a three stage
ballistic missile over Japan that was estimated to have a maximum range
of 3,700 miles. When perfected, this missile could reach Hawaii and
Alaska. And just ten days ago, India and Pakistan each tested
intermediate range ballistic missiles with ranges of over 1,200 miles.
Additionally, Communist China has developed a force of ballistic
missiles capable of striking the continental United States. And as we
are learning, China has been persistent in its efforts to acquire
advanced missile technology.
Mr. Chairman, how do we counter this threat? I recommend two
courses of action. The first was completed last month when the Senate
passed the National Missile Defense Act of 1999. This historic yet
simple piece of legislation, along with a similar measure passed in the
House, will make it the policy of the United States to deploy, as soon
as is technologically possible, an effective national missile defense
system capable of defending the territory of the United States against
limited ballistic missile attack.
The second course of action is to continue our efforts to develop
such a system. I support, as does a recent report by the CATO
Institute, the deployment of a limited ground based national missile
defense system. If we continue our investment in advanced technologies,
an effective ground based system will soon be a reality.
Mr. Chairman, some opponents of National Missile Defense have
argued that treaties and superior intelligence gathering will protect
this Nation from a future ballistic missile attack. I do not agree. A
treaty must add to a nation's security, not limit it. And as Chairman
of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, I can assure you that
although our intelligence gathering is very good, it is not perfect. I
believe that the security of the American people should not depend
solely on our ability to negotiate treaties or conduct reconnaissance.
We must have the ability to defend ourselves from the growing threat.
The deployment of a limited ground based national missile defense
system provides that ability.
The Chairman. Senator, I thank you and the committee thanks
you, and the Senate and the American people ought to be mighty
grateful to you for what you are doing. What you have done in
your statement today is what badly needs doing, and that is to
underscore how little time we have to deploy a missile defense,
and if we do not get ready, when a missile comes, it will be
too late, will it not?
Senator Shelby. It will be.
The Chairman. I am not going to question you further, but I
am going to ask the staff to circulate your statement very
widely, because I think the American people ought to know what
you have said.
Senator Shelby. Thank you, sir.
The Chairman. Thank you for being with us. Now then, I have
already identified panel No. 2. Dr. Graham, the former Director
of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. We
have a lot of brain power here this morning, and I am equally
grateful to each of you for coming here.
I usually do not start on the left, as policy, but I am
going to do it this morning.
I call you the father of all this, Dr. Graham, and we will
hear from you first.
STATEMENT OF DR. WILLIAM R. GRAHAM, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE
WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
Dr. Graham. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you
for the opportunity to testify this morning. I would
particularly like to address briefly the status of technology
and some of the history of our experience in providing for the
defense of the United States against ballistic missiles, and
also the defense of our forces, allies, and friends in the
Of course, much has happened in the world since March 23,
1983, when President Reagan first proposed that the United
States address the protection of these interests against
ballistic missile attack, and I would like to say a few words
in my oral statement, and then ask that my written comments be
made available for you.
The technologies and systems of both offensive ballistic
missiles and the defenses against them have undergone much
change over the last 30 years. As the threats evolve, the
technical challenges and capabilities for defensive systems
also have evolved.
During each era the challenges were formidable, only to be
overcome and replaced by new challenges; however, during this
evolution, the balance of the offense/defense capabilities has
gradually been moving from the offense having the advantage to
the defense having the advantage, and to place the use of
ballistic missile defense technology in perspective, my written
testimony reviews the challenges that confronted ballistic
missile defense in each of the last three decades, and
identifies the technologies that played key roles in overcoming
Nonetheless, the U.S. is today at a substantial
disadvantage compared with where we could be had we pursued
ballistic missile defense in a more vigorous manner. The U.S.
has not built an ABM system since the early 1970's, and, in
fact, beginning in the late eighties the U.S. has downsized the
defense industrial base very substantially by over half.
That downsizing accelerated in the first half of this
decade, and in the process of downsizing, the U.S. lost many of
the most knowledgeable and experienced technologists that we
had in the fields of rocketry, sensing, and other related
fields that are key to building viable defense systems.
Many of the problems that we have experienced in the THAAD
flight test program to date, in fact, are typical of the
development of the new technology, only in this case we have
many new technologists who are learning to do advanced designs,
so we are making the entry-level mistakes and learning from
We are paying the price of that downsizing and the loss of
many of the lead engineers and senior technicians that we have
been able to draw on in the past.
Second, on the negative side of the ledger, the ABM Treaty
has had since 1972 a pervasive chilling effect on the U.S.'s
ability to make full use of its technological capability to
provide for our defense. Many examples exist, but I will give
you one. There is a process and a group in the government, and
it has been there for many years, called the Compliance Review
Group, that examines systems and design for their compliance
with the ABM Treaty.
It is composed primarily of lawyers, and they try to make
legal interpretations of this diplomatically negotiated ABM
Treaty. However, they do not review preliminary design
concepts, they refuse to look at those. They insist on having a
fully fleshed out design before they take a look at it. That in
itself is a multi-year process just to get to the Compliance
Review Group, and then the Compliance Review Group takes a
substantial part of a year to conduct its review.
The fact is that you are down the road a few years before
you get the word from the Compliance Review Group as to whether
you have a design that you can proceed with or not.
Well, the message that sends to the engineers and
technologists is stay away from anything that might be viewed
as a limitation by the ABM Treaty, and we treat the ABM Treaty
as a third rail in technical design processes, and that places
a very severe constraint on us using our full technical
potential for designing ABM systems.
An example of this is the fact that today the ABM system
design that is being pursued by the administration suggests
that we put our ballistic missile interceptors in Alaska, but
among other things, use them to defend Miami, FL. This is a
long way, and it takes an enormous amount of technical
performance that is unnecessary if we built more interceptors
and placed them in more locations either on shore or off shore
around the country.
One more comment, and that is the lack of the now 24 years
of experience since we deactivated the safeguard ABM system
means that on both the operational front and on the technical
design front there is a big gap in our experience in dealing
with ABM systems, in building them, designing them, testing
them, and operating them, and we are today trying to recover
from that lack, but it will be several years before we make up
for the education and the continuous learning that we did not
obtain during the last 24 years when we could have been
operating at least a rudimentary ABM system and chose not to.
Admiral Crowell used to make the case that it was against
the U.S. interest to abandon the ABM Treaty, because the
Russians, the Soviets, in that case, had gained so much more
experience by operating their ABM system continuously since the
early seventies, compared to us, that they could break out
faster than we could.
I think he was right, at least in part, that we did lose a
lot of experience during that time and we have to make it up
On the positive side, the advantage in the perpetual
contest between offense and defense has over the last two
decades, as I mentioned, been shifting toward the defense, at
least in the technologies underlying our ballistic missile
To mention some of the areas where the advantage is
shifted, certainly, the capabilities of our radar systems have
improved substantially, both in the transmit-receive function
and also in the data processing, which I will come to in a
Miniaturized spacecraft and spacecraft optical systems have
made great progress in the last two decades, as have spacecraft
infrared, visible, and ultraviolet sensors. Lasers, based on
aircraft and satellite platforms have made enormous progress,
and that progress is being used both in the airborne laser
program being pursued by the Air Force today and in the space-
based laser that is being pursued by the Ballistic Missile
Small rocket propulsion, which is used, among other things,
for maneuvering and diverting kinetic interceptors, or rocket-
based interceptors, has improved greatly, and we can now build
small thrusters with the thrust-to-weight ratio of over a
thousand, but most important, our capability in computing has
increased both by the decrease in the size of computers, but
also simultaneously in the increase in their capability. In
fact, these are related, and we have gone from an era when we
had computers weighing several tons in the early 1960's or mid-
1960's, like the Control Data-6600, and able to perform 10
million operations per second, to computers built on a single
chip, which weighs a small fraction of an ounce, and are able
to perform hundreds of millions of operations per second, and,
in fact, when connected properly in groups and operated with
the appropriate software, they can now do hundreds of billions
and in some cases even thousands of billions of operations per
Nothing has advanced like the speed and memory capacity of
our computers in this last 20 years, and that is one of the key
areas that benefits the defense far more than it benefits the
offense. So in summary I would say the technology balance,
while it will be an eternal challenge, and one can always
invent an offense that will overcome a given defense, and one
can always conceive of a defense that will overcome a given
offense, the technology balance is moving toward the defense,
and the U.S. should be taking full advantage of that. Today we
are taking advantage of it under the serious constraints of the
ABM Treaty. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Graham follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. William R. Graham
the status of technology for defense of the united states, its forces,
and its interests against ballistic missile attack
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, thank you
for the opportunity to testify on the status of technology for defense
of the United States, its forces, its allies and friends, and its
interests throughout the world today, against ballistic missile attack
Much has happened in the world since March 23, 1983, when President
Reagan first proposed that the United States address the protection of
our vital interests against the threat of ballistic missile attack. I
would like to address the results of the investment that our country
has made in the technology of ballistic missile defense through the
Strategic Defense Initiative and its successor, the Ballistic Missile
results of the u.s. investment in ballistic missile defenses
The technologies and systems of both offensive ballistic missiles
and defenses against them have undergone dynamic change over the last
thirty years. As the threats evolved, the technical challenges and
capabilities for defense systems also evolved. During its own era, each
of the challenges was formidable, only to be overcome and replaced by
new challenges. However, during this evolution, the balance of
capability has gradually been moving from the offense to the defense.
To place the use of ballistic missile defense technology in
perspective, this testimony reviews the challenges that confronted
missile defense in each of the last three decades, and identifies the
technologies that played critical roles in overcoming those challenges.
In the post-World War II era, the first strategic threat to the
continental U.S. arose from Soviet long-range bombers carrying nuclear
weapons. Defenses against aircraft--particularly bombers--had undergone
extensive development as a matter of necessity in World War II, when
allied forces in Europe employed a combination of radar for early
warning, aircraft for high-altitude and standoff interception, and
barrage balloons and ground-based anti-aircraft guns for local defense,
all integrated using point-to-point voice communications over telephone
and radio links.
As the strategic aircraft threat to the U.S. developed in the
1950s, the need grew for higher performance, more integrated air
defenses. Air defense performance was improved through the development
of several generations of jet interceptor aircraft of progressively
greater speed, better armament for these aircraft including air-to-air
missiles, and surface-to-air missiles. These latter missiles were
usually tracked along with the target aircraft and command-guided to
intercept by ground-based radars that were usually co-located with the
missile launchers. The guidance loop went from the radar to the target
and the interceptor missile, back to the radar, through an electrical
analog computer, and to the interceptor missile with guidance commands.
The systems were not sufficiently accurate to rely on a hit-to-kill
intercept, so the interceptor missile carried either a proximity-fused
high explosive warhead or a small nuclear warhead. The NIKE series of
surface-to-air missiles, developed under the leadership of Bell
Laboratories and deployed widely in the U.S. during this era, were
examples of this technical approach. Countermeasures that had to be
overcome included chaff jammers, and both passive and active decoys.
By the beginning of the 1960s, the progress that the Soviet Union
was making in the development of long-range ballistic missiles, along
with their ability to make large-yield thermonuclear weapons as
demonstrated in their atmospheric tests, stimulated serious
consideration in the U.S. of a national missile defense. The point of
departure for such a system was the NIKE anti-aircraft system, which by
that time had evolved through several generations of design and
deployment. Bell Laboratories redirected its anti-aircraft work to the
ABM problem, and drew upon its extensive experience to develop what
became the NIKE X and then the SAFEGUARD ABM system that was deployed
at a single site near Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1975.
The SAFEGUARD ABM system consisted of a long-range surveillance
Perimeter Acquisition Radar (PAR), a shorter range but more precise
Missile Site Radar (MSR), ground-based digital computers, ground-based
SPARTAN missiles for exo-atmospheric intercepts, and Sprint missiles
for endo-atmospheric intercepts. Both missiles carried nuclear
warheads, although of quite different types, with each optimized to be
most effective in its altitude range of operation. The overall
interceptor control loop was the same as it had been for earlier air
defense missiles, other than the change from analog to large digital
computers to solve the fire control equations and guide the interceptor
to the vicinity of its target.
The SAFEGUARD system was linked to the Ballistic Missile Early
Warning System (BMEWS) of radars and communications that had been
established in the 1960s to monitor Soviet ballistic missile and space
launches. It was interconnected by commercial long-line telephone
carriers and military surface-to-surface microwave links, and was
interconnected and controlled from the NORAD facilities inside Cheyenne
Mountain near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The SAFEGUARD system faced three major technical challenges. The
first of these was traffic capacity. In the 1960s, digital computers
were built from discrete components: individual transistors, resistors,
etc. This form of electronics technology produced several inherent
limitations on the speed of computation, and also imposed what by
today's computer standards are severe practical limitations on the
memory and processor size of the computer. These limitations in 1960s
computer technology translated mid limitations in the ability of the
SAFEGUARD system to handle multiple ballistic missiles and other
objects such as chaff, jammers, or decoys simultaneously, which in turn
gave rise to the possibility of defeating its defensive capabilities by
saturating its processors with a barrage or countermeasure attack.
However, such an attack had drawbacks for the attacker. To produce
a high-traffic attack, the offense would have to coordinate its
launches so that the offensive missiles would arrive in the battle
space of the radar and its associated computers nearly simultaneously.
This degree of synchronization of the attack not only would place an
additional requirement on the offense, but would also subject the
offensive missiles to various forms of fratricide--the destruction or
disabling of one offensive missile warhead by another.
To avoid multiple intercepts from a single defensive missile, the
attacking warheads would have to be spaced sufficiently far apart so
that one interceptor could not destroy more than one offensive warhead,
and if the offensive warheads were fused to detonate when attacked,
sometimes referred to as salvage fusing, the spacing would have to be
sufficiently large that the salvage explosion of one offensive warhead
would not kill another in the attack. Even if a following warhead were
not killed, the anomalous aerodynamic conditions within the fireball
created by either an offensive or defensive nuclear explosion could
induce a substantial error in the targeting accuracy of a latter
warhead--a particularly significant effect when the attack was directed
against hardencd targets such as missile silos that required
considerable offensive warhead accuracy to kill. Finally, crater ejecta
from earlier warheads would still be airborne when later warheads
arrived and that debris could be struck by rapidly moving incoming
warheads, causing them to pre-detonate or even to be destroyed.
Countermeasures had always been a problem for radar-guided anti-
aircraft. As Soviet missile defenses came into operation, U.S.
strategic missiles began to incorporate similar countermeasures, and
there was a concern that Soviet missiles might do the same. Some
countermeasures, such as lightweight chaff, would only be effective
outside the atmosphere, but others, such as replica decoys, could be
designed to look somewhat like offensive warheads from deployment until
they began penetrating the upper atmosphere and could quickly add still
more traffic to the defended battlespace. To overcome such
countermeasures, the performance of both the radar and the computers
had to be sufficiently accurate to distinguish between the signatures
and the trajectories and other dynamics of the decoys and the actual
warheads. This, in turn, put additional requirements on the defensive
hardware and software capabilities.
Blackout and other nuclear explosion-induced radar propagation
problems were another technical challenge. Blackout is caused by the
ionization created by an atmospheric or exo-atmospheric nuclear
explosion. That ionization can absorb or distort the radar signal as it
passes through the region around the explosion, and result in either no
return signal or a signal improperly directed back to the radar.
Blackout and related effects would be caused by the explosion of a
nuclear interceptor warhead, and could be caused by the offensive
warhead as well if it were salvage-fused. To overcome these problems,
the defensive system had to maintain a good model of the battlespace
and the events occurring in it, and had to be able to correct for
problems less than a total blackout of the radar signal. These
phenomena imposed additional loads on the radar and its computers.
Finally, while not solely a technology problem, the siting issues
associated with SAFEGUARD became a major impediment to its deployment
in some areas. Missile and radar range limitations of the SAFEGUARD
system necessitated the deployment of several radar/computer/missile
installations around the country to protect the entire continental U.S.
The most stressful threats in terms of battlespace available were not
the Soviet ICBMs, but rather their sub-launched ballistic missiles--
SLBMs. SLBMs could be fired from only a few hundred kilometers off the
U. S. coastline, and could have flight times of ten minutes or less to
the population centers along the coasts, and to the bomber bases and
other military facilities inland. However, deploying any systems armed
with nuclear warheads close to coastal population centers met with
public and political resistance in some areas.
In February 1976, after ten months of operation at the Grand Forks
site, the SAFEGUARD system was deactivated by Act of Congress. For the
next seven years, ballistic missile defense activities were focused on
R&D carried out primarily by the Army's Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville,
Alabama; the organization that had directed the development of the
SAFEGUARD system. During that time, substantial progress was made in
the development of high-powered laser systems suitable for weapons
applications and multi-spectral space-based sensors by the Defense
Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), and by the Air
During this era, great progress was also made first by the military
and then by commercial initiatives in computer hardware technology.
ARPA and other organizations carried out initiatives to develop large-
scale, high-speed integrated digital circuits, which took the
technology from a few tens of transistors on a single semiconductor
chip in 1970 to tens of thousands in 1980 to numbers approaching ten
million today. Equally impressive were the gains made in computer
speeds. In the early 1960s, the world's foremost supercomputer--the
Control Data Corporation's 6600--had a clock speed of ten million
operations per second. By the late 1980s, personal computer
microprocessors had reached this speed, and have continued to advance
to today's speeds of 500 million operations per second, with good
prospects for still higher speeds in the near future. Special purpose
computers have recently been built that operate at speeds of hundreds
of billions to trillions of operations per second. Integrated circuit
semiconductor memories have experienced similar advances in capacity
The enormous progress made in computers during this era resolved
several of the challenges encountered in the 1970s in the design and
development of ballistic missile defense systems, including traffic
handling capacity, nuclear effects modeling, and more countermeasure
The establishment of the Strategic Defense Initiative by President
Reagan in 1983 was a seminal event in the development of ballistic
missile defense technology. Diverse activities that could contribute to
missile defense were brought together from many Defense Department
organizations, and focused in the Strategic Defense Initiative Office.
With a new infusion of national interest and funding, rapid progress
began to be made in the development of lightweight, high-powered laser
systems and neutral particle beam devices. Early successes included the
destruction of a TITAN booster structure in a static test stand by the
Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser in 1985 and the first test in
space of a neutral particle beam accelerator--the Beam Experiment
Aboard Rocket (BEAR) in 1989.
In the 1960s and '70s, the limitations of ground-based radar
tracking, relatively slow ground-based computing, and ground-based
command guidance of the interceptors made it technically impractical
for the interceptors to be maneuvered with sufficient accuracy to
actually hit high speed offensive ballistic missile warheads. This
situation was overcome in the SAFEGUARD system by using nuclear
explosives on the interceptors to extend their lethal range by at least
a factor of a thousand over non-nuclear interceptors.
In June, 1984, the Army demonstrated the feasibility of a hit-to-
kill ballistic missile interceptor with its Homing Overlay Experiment.
This experiment used pre-SDI technology, resulting in a kill vehicle
mass on the order of 1000 kg. The first formative reductions in
component miniaturization gave rise to the highly successful Delta
series (Delta 180-183). This sequence of experiments established the
feasibility of the fundamental operations necessary to enable the
space-based operation of a ballistic missile defense system. Operations
ranging from target detection and acquisition to space based intercept
were conducted. The mass of the kill vehicle used in the Delta series
was of the order of a few hundred kilograms. The combination of
miniaturized high-performance components, the large amount of computer
power that could now be placed on a small interceptor, and the ability
to integrate advanced components into a semiautonomous hit-to-kill
interceptor made it possible for the first time to consider deploying a
ballistic missile defense system composed of interceptors that could
function with sufficient autonomy and precision so that each could
intercept a warhead using only its on-board sensors, thrusters, and
computers once it had been given the battlespace it was to defend and
the authority to act.
The miniaturization of sensors, propulsion systems, and computers
also progressed rapidly; for example, small rocket engines well suited
for maneuvering either ground-based interceptors or satellites into
hit-to-kill trajectories were developed that had thrust-to-weight
ratios of one thousand. Advances in these technologies represented
major progress, and opened significant new opportunities in the design
of interceptors and space systems. This progress has been so profound
that it is revolutionizing the design of both military and non-military
space systems, and has already strongly influenced the plans, designs,
and hardware of commercial, NASA, and military satellites.
The drastic reduction in the size and weight of the components
which make up hit-to-kill interceptors has enabled new families of
endoatmospheric and exoatmospheric kinetic kill vehicles. Taken
together, this family of vehicles is known as LEAP (Lightweight
ExoAtmospheric Projectile). The mass of these vehicles is as low as 10
kg in a package roughly the size of a coffee can. These vehicles are
fully self-contained units which include the seeker, processor,
guidance, and divert propulsion system--in short, a fully integrated
projectile with enough computational capability to perform intercepts
autonomously. Under other technology programs, liquid and solid axial
engines have been developed which are specifically designed to propel
the kill vehicles into the target.
The emergence of the LEAP capability has created the opportunity to
leverage the AEGIS air defense weapon system currently deployed aboard
dozens of Navy ships. This approach uses existing investments in
hardware, infrastructure and training to provide a range of potentially
near-term ballistic missile defense options.
A notable example of the ingenious use of SDI technologies was the
design of the Brilliant Pebbles space-based interceptor in 1987.
Brilliant Pebbles had been preceded by Project BAMBI, an Air Force
concept of the early 1960s using space-based ABM kill vehicles that
would guide themselves to intercept boosting ballistic missiles. But it
would take another twenty-five years of technical development to make
BAMBI feasible as Brilliant Pebbles. The BAMBI concept was reborn as
Brilliant Pebbles of necessity in response to the projected cost of the
first phase of deployment of a strategic defense system. The cost of
this system was dominated by the space segment and was driven by
survivability considerations and the use of technology proven in the
Delta series. Brilliant Pebbles enabled a drastic reduction in the cost
of the space segment while meeting all requirements. Brilliant Pebbles
achieved survivability through proliferation, thereby distributing the
intercept function across a number of elements. This approach obviated
the need for expensive measures designed to ensure that every
individual space-based asset be capable of surviving a direct attack.
The proliferated nature of the Brilliant Pebbles concept enabled a
production line approach, allowing dramatic cost reductions through
The difference between the earlier space-based interceptor and
Brilliant Pebbles is akin to the difference between the MILSTAR and
IRIDIUM communications systems. The Brilliant Pebbles interceptor was
designed to weigh about 50 kilograms, and be deployed in a
constellation of a few thousand satellites that, when commanded, could
conduct autonomous hit-to-kill intercepts of offensive missiles and
warheads. While the Brilliant Pebbles system was designed to operate
exo-atmospherically as a defense against longer range missiles, it
could also intercept missiles with ranges as short as 1000 kilometers.
Unfortunately, the development of the system was terminated in 1993, at
the direction of the Administration that took office that year.
While the production and deployment of Brilliant Pebbles was never
undertaken, the technology continued to be developed, and was
ultimately proven with a space system called Clementine. The Clementine
satellite was composed of all the components of a Brilliant Pebble and
assembled into a configuration designed to demonstrate surveillance and
interception for missile defense applications as well as a variety of
civil space applications. The Clementine satellite was the first
satellite to orbit the moon since the Apollo program over 25 years ago.
Using SDI-developed sensors, Clementine produced the first complete
photographic map of the surface of the moon, and it did so at a variety
of visible and infrared wavebands. It also found the first indications
of ice at the south pole of the moon.
Beginning concurrently with the Brilliant Pebbles development and
continuing through the present, the Army has pursued development of
miniature ground-based hit-to-kill interceptors and associated ground-
based radars, designed to use cueing from space-based sensors for both
theater ballistic missile defense and national missile defense. These
interceptors would have a range of from tens to hundreds of kilometers
depending on their booster velocity at burnout and--most importantly--
the external sensor and command and control capabilities of the system.
The Navy also began development of miniaturized ship-based interceptors
that could be integrated into the AEGIS air defense system and used in
conjunction with its shipborne SPY-1 radars, their advanced battle
management system, and space-based sensors.
To a much greater degree than the space-based interceptor systems,
the ground and sea-based systems have radar range and horizon
limitations that in turn limit the performance of interceptors to
ranges substantially less than the kinematic range of the interceptor
itself. However, this limitation can be offset to a limited extent by
using forward based early warning radars and to a large extent by using
space-based sensors. Drawing from the technological advantages
exploited by Brilliant Pebbles, the MSTI satellite series (MSTI I--MSTI
III) demonstrated the feasibility and practicality of such an approach,
gathered key background data, and demonstrated all the key sensor
functions--such as target detection, acquisition and tracking. The
``footprint'' or defended area of surface-based systems depends very
strongly on the availability and use of external sensing and tracking
of offensive missiles.
Following the conceptual development of the Brilliant Pebbles
interceptors, and in view of the rapid progress being made in the
development of small, lightweight sensors and satellites, Dr. Gregory
Canavan proposed the development and deployment of a constellation of
about twenty to forty surveillance, tracking, and attack assessment
satellites, communicating through satellite-to-satellite links with
downlinks to ground stations from any satellite within line of site, in
orbits about 1000 kilometers in altitude. The system was called
Brilliant Eyes, since it used much of the same technology as the
Brilliant Pebbles interceptor satellites. The Brilliant Eyes system is
currently being addressed in an Air Force program called the Space and
Missile Tracking System (SMTS). Unfortunately, that program has
recently been started for the third time and is proceeding slowly if at
The importance of Brilliant Eyes, or SMTS, can hardly be
overestimated. For example, Figure 1 shows the ratio of the areas that
could potentially be defended by the THAAD ground-based theater defense
missile limited only by the kinematics of the missile compared with the
area defended using only the planned ground-based radar located with
the missile launcher. For offensive missiles of over about 1,500
kilometers range, the ratio of defended areas is more than a factor of
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>
The significance of space-based sensing such as Brilliant Eyes
becomes even clearer when the benefits are characterized in terms of
relative dollar costs to obtain an equal capability. In the case
mentioned above, the area that a surface-based interceptor system can
defend using only its co-located radar is one-tenth the area that the
same interceptor can defend using space-based sensing. Therefore, to
defend the same area without space-based sensing, ten times as many
missile/radar systems would have to be deployed, at a cost that would
be approximately ten times as much as the same capability using space-
based sensing to its fullest potential.
The shift in emphasis from the multi-thousand warhead threat that
could be deployed by the Soviet Union (or its successor, Russia) to a
much smaller threat that could be deployed today by China, and in the
near future by other states, has shifted the ballistic missile defense
focus to smaller scale deployments. A change begun with the Global
Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS) in January 1992, and
continued through May 1993. With the increase in computer power and the
absence of nuclear explosives on the interceptors, together with the
advances in multi-spectral infra-red, optical, and ultraviolet sensors,
problems of traffic management, discrimination, and blackout have been
substantially reduced and in some cases eliminated.
Recent Technical Challenges
Soon after the Strategic Defense Initiative was begun, a new
problem was put forward as a potential fundamental limitation to the
capability of strategic missile defenses. Since the time available for
operator intervention during an attack would be minimal, the potential
problem was software--the underlying logical instructions that govern
the operation of the system's computers, and therefore the system
itself. Some asserted that it would be infeasible to construct software
of tens of millions of instructions without introducing errors that
would only appear during attack and would render the missile defense
ineffective. However, over the last decade, computer software
technology has also advanced at a rapid rate, and the ability to test
software has kept pace, so that today it is routine for people not
expert in software to install and operate reliable programs of tens of
millions of instructions on personal computers.
The cost of missile defenses is periodically raised as another
barrier to the deployment of effective systems. Fortunately, the use of
the SDI's miniaturization technologies had a very significant effect on
reducing systems cost. At the same time that the Brilliant Pebbles
system was proposed, another military organization proposed a space-
based system using earlier technologies. Cost estimates of the latter
system indicated that it would be prohibitively expensive, and raised
the prospect of terminating space-based interceptor systems. However,
initial cost estimates of the Brilliant Pebbles system indicated that
it would have a much lower cost than the system using more conventional
For chemical and biological offensive warheads, submunitions remain
a concern. They can be dealt with most directly by intercepting the
offensive missile while it is still in boosted flight, before it can
deploy the submunitions. Such defensive systems are referred to as
boost phase interceptors. Since powered flight of an offensive missile
usually extends through the first one to five minutes of its
trajectory, only that amount of time is available for performing a
boost phase intercept. Intercepting an offensive missile in such a
short time after launch requires both a close proximity and rapid
response for a rocket-propelled kinetic interceptor. While such a
capability is technically feasible, for many situations of interest to
the U.S., kinetic boost-phase interceptors are not being pursued as a
system development program.
The Air Force is pursuing another approach to boost phase
intercept. Building on the progress that has been made in high power
laser systems, it is developing a system that can be carried in a large
aircraft and uses a laser beam to destroy missiles in boost phase at
distances greater than can be achieved with kinetic interceptors. Rapid
progress has been made in compensating for beam imperfections and
atmospheric propagation effects, both of which can limit the effective
range of such a system.
The U.S. missile defense program has successfully overcome a series
of formidable technological and systemic challenges. Major hardware and
software obstacles have been resolved, and miniaturization of sensor,
propulsion system, and computer technologies have greatly reduced cost
issues. The diminished size of the anticipated missile threat also has
significantly facilitated the resolution of technological and
operational problems. The principal challenge today is not in the
technology, which has made great progress and continues to advance, but
in the national commitment to proceed with deploying effective missile
defenses, and to do so in an efficient and expeditious manner.
The substantial accomplishments of the Strategic Defense Initiative
and its successor Ballistic Missile Defense Organization have brought
about revolutionary advances in other areas of military space
capabilities and in scientific and commercial space enterprises as
well. For example, in the military area, the development of small,
inexpensive, highly capable satellites has given the U.S. the
opportunity to move away from dependence upon the infrequent coverage
of specific ground areas by a few large satellites for weather
observation, reconnaissance, and other functions, and toward nearly
continuous coverage of all ground areas by constellations of small
In the scientific exploration and exploitation of space, SDI
technology has changed the paradigm for spacecraft systems. Before SDI,
scientific spacecraft built by NASA and other organizations typically
weighed thousands to tens of thousands of pounds and cost in the range
of a billion dollars. Today, both deep space and earth-orbiting
scientific satellites typically weigh in the hundreds of pounds and
cost about 10% of their predecessors. Clementine, the first U.S.
spacecraft to orbit the moon in 25 years, and made the initial
discovery that ice might be present at the lunar southern pole, could
not have been built without SDI technology. Future scientific
spacecraft will be even smaller, less expensive, and deployed in
greater numbers than Clementine and its peers.
The recent progress in commercial spacecraft and their applications
is also the result of SDI technology. The constellations of small, low-
orbit communications satellites such as the Iridium and Teledesic
systems depend upon highly capable, inexpensive, miniaturized,
autonomous spacecraft for their commercial feasibility. Today, billions
of dollars are being invested in these systems, and many billions of
dollars will be earned over their lifetimes.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
General, is it ``Piotrowski''----
General Piotrowski. Sir, you pronounced it exactly correct.
The Chairman. Did I?
General Piotrowski. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. General, it is a pleasure to have you. Thank
you very much for coming. You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF GEN. JOHN PIOTROWSKI, FORMER COMMANDER IN CHIEF,
SPACE COMMAND, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
General Piotrowski. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for
I would like to draw a historical perspective. My
background is operational and programmatic, and as you are well
aware, Mr. Chairman, program success is often largely dependent
on the goals established, the motivation behind the program,
and where it sits in the national priorities.
For example, if President Kennedy in the decade of the
sixties had said, ``It may be necessary to go to the moon, I am
not sure, but what I would like to do is develop the
technology, and by the end of the decade I will review it, and
if I find the need, then I will make a decision to go to the
The greatest technological achievement, certainly in my
lifetime, was the Apollo program. It was not structured that
way. It was a top national priority. There was an instate, put
a man on the moon by the end of the decade and bring him back
to earth, and it was properly funded. I have something the NASA
administrator used about a month ago in a presentation, and it
shows that in year 2000 dollars the Saturn rocket alone was $48
billion. At the same time, the lunar escape module cost the
Nation about $16 billion in current year dollars.
As the Senators will remember, that was a time when we were
building the Great Society, we were fighting a major war in
Vietnam with a million or so people on the ground, and
modernizing our weapon systems at a rapid rate. This Nation can
do daunting technological programs and do them well if they are
prioritized, if there is an instate, and if we are motivated.
The motivation is there. As panel one and Senator Shelby
stated, there is a threat.
From an operational perspective, I am absolutely convinced
as an operator that our senior military leaders today, if given
the tools, can defend America. There is another operational
advantage to having a ballistic missile defense, whether it is
national, theater, or global. It devalues ballistic missiles.
Today they are immutable.
They are very attractive, because they cannot be stopped,
but if we could stop them, it would, first, devalue ballistic
missiles at all levels, and second, open up other operational
avenues to pursue. For example, if North Korea decided to
blackmail the United States by threatening Oahu or Los Angeles,
if we had a ballistic missile defense, the Nation's leaders
could take a decision to preempt, knowing that if some escaped
or if some were launched out from under attack, they could be
defeated, and we could eliminate that scourge permanently.
Now, again, I would like to end by saying I am convinced
that our military leaders of today can do this job, do it
right, make the right decisions and defend America, if given
Thank you, sir.
The Chairman. Before Dr. Garwin proceeds, I would like to
ask the distinguished ranking member of the committee, Senator
Biden, if he has an opening statement, and I hope he does.
Senator Biden. Mr. Chairman, I do, and I appreciate your
graciousness, I apologize for being late, I was still on the
floor in the aftermath of the last vote, and I will wait with
your permission until the rest of the panel----
The Chairman. Very well.
Senator Biden [continuing]. Goes and then make my
The Chairman. You may proceed.
Senator Biden. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD L. GARWIN, PHILIP D. REED SENIOR
FELLOW FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN
RELATIONS, NEW YORK, NY
Dr. Garwin. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before
you. I request that my written testimony be included in the
record, and I'll summarize it.
The Chairman. Without objection.
Dr. Garwin. Thank you. Senator Shelby indicated that an
enemy would attack the United States where it is most
vulnerable, and presumably where they can achieve such an
attack, but unlike Russia, these countries that we are talking
about today, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, have no capability to
destroy the United States as a whole. They can nibble around
the edges, where it is easiest for them, and most difficult for
us to defend.
So given a will to damage the United States and our
geography, Hawaii would be struck by North Korea with short-
range cruise missiles or ballistic missiles from ships, Los
Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington, Seattle, San
Diego, are all vulnerable, and we have absolutely no defense,
and no proposal to defend against these cruise missiles or
short-range ballistic missiles, or nuclear weapons detonated in
So my problem with the national missile defense is that it
defends against a threat which is most difficult for the other
side to prepare, and as I will indicate, does not do that at
Now, with Dr. Graham, I was a member of the Rumsfeld
Commission, and with the other eight members, we unanimously
endorsed the threat that could appear within 5 years by these
three stated countries, joining the thousands of ballistic
missile nuclear warheads present in Russia and the ten or
twenty in China, and, of course, the hundreds available to the
French and the British. A few other countries could do the
same, but they are not classed as enemies.
Rather than give my view of the history of the national
missile defense program, I want to render a judgment. In the
early stages of the program it is contemplated that 75 ground-
based interceptors would be built, and about 25 deployed to
counter a relatively few warheads. The system specifications
require an extremely high confidence that not a single warhead
penetrate to U.S. soil. In my opinion, no system thus far
proposed could achieve such confidence even against cooperating
Senator Biden. I am sorry. What kind of warheads?
Dr. Garwin. Cooperating warheads.
Senator Biden. Cooperating warheads.
Dr. Garwin. Warheads that would be launched like puppy
Senator Biden. I got it.
Dr. Garwin [continuing]. Wagging their tails, and wanting
to be slapped with hit-to-kill interceptors. But the problem
with the national missile defense is not simply that it would
not fulfill the stated requirement, but that it would have
essentially no capability against a long-range missile system
that would be deployed by North Korea, Iraq, or Iran to strike
the United States with biological weapons or with nuclear
The problem is really simple. Consider the use of
biological weapons, a country could put a payload of a hundred
kilograms or a ton of anthrax or other germs into a reentry
vehicle, have it come down in the middle of Washington, (or
upwind would be better), strike the ground, and deliver all of
The result would be a very narrow plume carried by the
breeze, which would kill most of the people in its path, but
would leave those outside the plume untouched, except in the
case of extremely contagious germs, such as small pox, where
one carrier could cause an epidemic.
But a country would make much better use of their payload
capacity by packaging the biological weapon in the form of
individual bomblets that would be released just after boost,
when the ICBM would reach its full velocity, and these would
fall through space and reenter individually with a limited
amount of heat shield protection against the reentry heat, and
after the heat of reentry the shield would be shed, as was the
case with the reentry of the film capsule in the first U.S.
strategic reconnaissance system, CORONA; the bomblets would
fall to earth, where a thoroughly tested device would expel the
biological agents. Given this approach to increased military
effectiveness, the planned national missile defense system has
no possibility of making its intercept so early in the
Now, let us look at nuclear warheads. You cannot break up
nuclear warheads into one-kilogram bomblets, but there is
something else that could be done against these hit-to-kill
interceptors which would be equally effective. That is for the
offense to arrange for the nuclear warhead to be enclosed in a
balloon, a large balloon made of plastic Mylar, coated with
aluminum foil, a balloon that could be almost the size of this
room, and a warhead somewhat bigger than me would be hidden in
Everything would work according to plan, the launch would
be seen by the defense support program, DSP satellites; an
alert would be sent to the upgraded early warning radars; they
would see eventually this big balloon containing the warhead or
not; the interceptors would be launched; an interceptor would
strike the balloon, it would not strike the warhead, because
the balloon is so much bigger. It might even, we do not know,
because of the shock of the collision of the thin balloon
against the interceptor, it might create enough gas really to
blow the whole balloon away, but another balloon could have
been shrunk down on the reentry vehicle and now deployed within
a second or so, and once again, hide the warhead from further
If they did not like that particular approach--and people
often do not use my ideas until 20 or 30 years later, but
eventually they often do, as with the global positioning
system, or the cruise missiles, or the laser-guided bomb that
we pushed so hard in the 1960's--if they do not like that
particular approach, they could do another countermeasure which
would be different, using smaller balloons, not much bigger
than the warhead, so striking the balloon might strike the
warhead, if the balloon contained a warhead. But in this case
they could have perhaps ten or twenty balloons made of the same
plastic, coated with aluminum.
The purpose of the aluminum is to keep the radar from
looking in the interior and to keep the infrared or the visible
from seeing through the balloon. But the reentry vehicle has a
lot of heat, because it is an object at room temperature, and
it would be radiating to the balloon, so this balloon would be
warmer than the other balloons, the decoys, that would have no
reentry vehicles. No problem.
You go to your local store, you buy a one-pound lithium
battery, it might cost you $50, and you put it in these other
balloons so that they are being warmed just as the reentry
vehicle warms its balloons.
Now, we have always from the very beginning ``spun up'' our
warheads so that they reenter more accurately, but other
countries have not done that. If you are going to discriminate
a warhead which is spinning from decoys that are not, well,
that is an easy thing to do; but if you do not spin your
warhead, if you have anti-simulation, that is, you make the
warhead easier to simulate, because it is coated with a lumpy
aluminum-covered balloon rather than showing its beautiful
machined surface, then these decoys become much more feasible.
So the national missile defense would have no capability
against bomblets carrying biological agents dispersed on
ascent, or against a nuclear weapon in a large enclosing
balloon; nor would it discriminate a warhead in a small
balloon, properly done, from perhaps ten empty decoy small
balloons; it would neither see nor be able to intercept short-
range ballistic missiles launched from ships near U.S. shores;
and it would neither see nor be able to intercept short-range
cruise missiles launched from ships. Nevertheless, it is still
possible to protect the United States against attack by long-
range ballistic missiles.
Now, first, we have to really believe and attend to our
deterrent, that is, to ensure that people who strike the United
States realize that they will be struck back. They may even be
struck preemptively, as General Piotrowski says, and that is
something that I would favor under many circumstances.
Even so, they might build a limited ICBM capability for
political reasons, despite the insecurity that it would pose to
them. In addition to devaluing ballistic missiles, building a
defense against them actually values them, it shows you take
them seriously. So it is not clear to me which of these
arguments outweighs the other.
But if you want to intercept an ICBM, you can do it in
boost phase. That will handle this nuclear weapon inside its
enclosing balloon; That would handle the biological weapons
before they are disseminated, and the task of a homing
interceptor is a lot easier in boost phase, because it sees the
rocket plume rather than having to see the----
Senator Biden. Dr. Garwin, may I ask a question. How long
is boost phase? When you say boost phase, most people are not
technically proficient. I assume it means just at the moment it
is lifting off the pad. Is that all it is, or to what height
Dr. Garwin. Thank you. The boost phase typically extends
for 4 or 5 minutes for an ICBM, because there are three stages
or so, and the ICBM cannot go too fast in the lower portions of
the atmosphere, so that is a pretty good number. It is
possible--we have considered making ICBM's that would reach
their full speed in 100 seconds.
They go quite a ways down range, maybe several hundred
miles, before they reach their full speed, and that is the key
to the intercept, because the interceptor can launch more
rapidly, get up to its full speed--the same speed as an ICBM--
in 100 seconds; and that means that it has this extra 150
seconds or so to catch up with it if it is launched from
behind, but if it is launched from the side, then it can be
launched down range a thousand miles or so, and intercept from
any region, which might be a thousand miles or more in
So there is a vast area from which interceptors could be
deployed, and still make an intercept of a North Korean-
launched ICBM, launched north, as they must be, against the
United States, in boost phase.
We could even, if the Russians cooperate, make a joint ABM
test range south of Vladivostok, really close. We could use, in
fact, much simpler interceptors from there, but we could also
do it from ships or other places in a vast range of
VC-based capabilities might be useful for defense of Japan,
against boost phase, against theater-range missiles launched
from North Korea. We already have an agreement with Russia and
three other countries, of September 26, 1997, which I hope will
be ratified soon, a provision by which the parties to the ABM
Treaty of 1972 accept the deployment of ballistic missile
defenses that do not, quote, ``Pose a realistic threat to the
strategic nuclear force of another party.''
That is ``another party'' to the 1972 ABM Treaty; but North
Korea is not a party, there is no reason why we should not have
a defense against North Korea. China is not a party, but China
raises different questions.
So in conclusion, we should not deploy the proposed
national missile defense unless it is proved capable of
handling the countermeasures that can realistically be employed
by the potential adversary, and I really do mean these
countermeasures of enclosing balloons, and anti-simulation, and
biological weapons dispersed on ascent.
Furthermore, the evaluation of national missile defense
should start from scratch, not to prove that the thing that we
have proposed will work, because it will not; to start with
scratch with the use of ground-based or ship-based interceptors
that will destroy the offensive missiles in boost phase before
they can release bomblets or separate a warhead that could then
provide itself with an enclosing balloon.
Finally, there is no reason to abandon the protection of
the ABM Treaty that constrains Russian defenses and thus allows
the United States to deter Russia with modest numbers of
nuclear weapons, thus facilitating great reductions in the only
nuclear threat to the survival of the United States. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Garwin follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. Richard L. Garwin
This Committee knows well the characteristics of the threat facing
the United States, which were reviewed in part by the Rumsfeld
Commission in 1998. As one of the nine members of that Commission, I
concurred in the unanimous report published July 15, 1998, which
assessed the ballistic missile threat to the United States.
In brief, we considered both nuclear weapons and biological weapon
payloads as strategic threats. We noted the thousands of warheads still
available and deliverable by long-range missile from Russia; the 10 to
20 ICBMs available to China, armed with nuclear weapons; and the
possibility that any of three additional nations with which the United
States is not on friendly terms--North Korea, Iran, or Iraq--could
within five years of a decision to do so have an ICBM that could strike
some of the 50 United States. This judgment was based on the assumption
of a concerted program, well funded and given priority, with due
attention to denial and deception, as it has been increasingly
practiced by countries that wish to hide the scope of their activities
from U.S. intelligence.
Of course, other nations have much greater capabilities than these
three; for instance, Britain or France could deliver hundreds of
nuclear warheads against the United States, but we have no fear that
they would do so. With its space launch vehicle, India could also
deliver a nuclear weapon, and Israel has apparently quite a few nuclear
or thermonuclear weapons, but they are also not classed as threats to
the United States.
The Rumsfeld Commission further noted that short-range ballistic
missiles based on ships and armed with nuclear or biological payloads
would constitute a threat more readily available than ICBMs to North
Korea, Iran, or Iraq; and that ship-launched cruise missiles available
commercially would add to that threat. The Rumsfeld Commission did not
consider as a group the vulnerability of the U.S. to BW attack from
ships off shore, from cars or trucks disseminating BW, from unmanned
helicopter crop dusters, or from smuggled nuclear weapons or nuclear
weapons detonated in a U.S. harbor while still in a shipping container
on a cargo ship; but these capabilities are more easily acquired and
more reliable than are ICBMs.
In January 1999, Secretary of Defense William Cohen announced that
a decision to deploy a National Missile Defense would be considered in
summer of the year 2000, based on the existence of the threat and the
technological readiness of an NMD system to counter it. He modified the
Administration's ``3 + 3'' program which had promised that within three
years (by the year 2000) an NMD would be developed capable of
deployment within the following three years (2003), so that deployment
would now take place in 2005 in case of a favorable decision in summer,
The ``3 + 3'' program had intended that development would continue
in the case that deployment was not authorized, so that year by year
what could be deployed within three years of a decision to do so would
be increasingly capable. A decision to deploy would need to freeze the
technology in order to build a system within three (or five years).
national missile defense
Rather than recount my view of the history of the NMD program, let
me just give a judgment on the program as it is now defined. It is
contemplated that to counter a relatively few warheads, 75 ground-based
interceptors (GBI) would be built, and some 20 deployed. The system
specifications require extremely high confidence that not a single
warhead penetrate to U.S. soil. In my opinion, no system thus far
proposed could achieve such confidence, even against cooperating
Nevertheless, the problem with the NMD system is not simply that it
could not fulfill its stated requirement, but that it would have
essentially no capability against a long-range missile system deployed
by North Korea, Iraq, or Iran to strike the United States with
biological weapons or with nuclear weapons.
I make this judgment on the basis of a substantial knowledge of the
NMD system as it is proposed, of previous efforts to develop a system
of missile defense of the nation (and of Theater Missile Defense), and
of a close look over the decades at countermeasures that are feasible
to defeat missile defenses.
The problem is a simple one. Begin, for instance, with North Korea.
If North Korea wished to maximize its capability to cause death or
damage in the United States by the launch of a first-generation ICBM,
it would not use a so-called unitary payload of BW, which would perhaps
deliver tens or hundreds of kilograms of anthrax or other infectious or
even contagious microbe on some city. The result would be a very narrow
plume carried by the breeze, which would kill most of the people in its
path, but would leave those outside the plume untouched, except in the
case of extremely contagious germs such as smallpox.
Rather, a country could make much better use of a limited payload
capacity by packaging the BW agent in the form of individual bomblets
that would weigh a kilogram or so, and that would be released by the
missile just as soon as it had reached its full velocity on ascent.
That is, just after boost phase. The bomblets would fall separately
through the arc of the trajectory to their target, and would reenter
the atmosphere without incident, having been provided with a thin
ablative reentry shield. After the heat of reentry, the shield could be
shed, as was the case with the reentry of the film buckets of the first
U.S. strategic reconnaissance system--CORONA, and the bomblets would
fall to Earth, where a thoroughly tested device would expel the BW
agent. This could be a mild explosive burster charge or some other
Given this approach to increased military effectiveness, the
planned National Missile Defense system has no possibility of making an
intercept so early in the trajectory.
If the adversary has a nuclear weapon that can be delivered by
ICBM, it can evidently not break it up into 1-kg bomblets. A first-
generation nuclear weapon would probably have a yield of 10 to 20
kilotons (like those U.S. nuclear weapons that devastated Hiroshima and
Nagasaki in August 1945). So the NMD system would have a chance to
observe the flight--first the DSP satellites would see the booster
flame (as in the case of BW as well); then the upgraded early warning
radars would see the warhead in mid-course, together with whatever
simple countermeasures might have been used (and the spent final-stage
fuel tank); and X-band radars would perhaps help to discriminate the
real warhead from decoys or junk. A sufficient number of ground-based
interceptors would be launched to obtain (in principle) the desired
damage expectancy by their hit-to-kill intercept against the incoming
nuclear warhead. If the interceptors were based at Grand Forks, ND,
there would in general not be time to observe the success of an
intercept before launching a second GBI. If the interceptors were based
in Alaska, a launch from North Korea would provide some time for such
shoot-look-shoot. To my mind, there is no significant difference
between the protection of the country offered by interceptors based in
Alaska compared with those based in North Dakota. Protection would be
negligible in either case. The reason is that a simple countermeasure
would defeat the system as planned.
Depending on the preferences of the adversary, this countermeasure
could take the form of a large enclosing balloon around the reentry
vehicle that contains the nuclear warhead. Immediately after achieving
full velocity, the warhead would separate from the final stage of the
missile, and a simple gas generator containing a few grams of material
(like that in every airbag in modern automobiles) would gently inflate
a metallized plastic balloon that had been crumpled down onto the
warhead by a simple vacuum cleaner exhausting most of the air. Or
inflation could be done simply by compressed gas. A warhead that might
be five feet long could be enclosed in a balloon 30 ft. in diameter, so
that it would be perfectly well visible to the radars and to the hit-
to-kill homing vehicle of the ground-based interceptor. But the homing
vehicle which would strike the balloon (if all goes according to plan)
would have very little probability of striking the warhead contained
within. A thin aluminum coat on the plastic is opaque to radar and also
to infrared invisible light, which are the means by which the homing
kill vehicle (HKV) is expected to strike its target.
Depending upon the characteristics of an isolated target, such
intercept might take place in principle with an accuracy of one foot or
less, providing high probability of kill (if the equipment and software
is reliable--which it is not yet). But with the aimpoint hidden, the
chance of striking the warhead would be tiny, considering its small
size compared with the enclosing balloon.
One might imagine that the collision of the warhead with the
balloon would generate sufficient gas from the very high velocity
impact of the thin balloon on the interceptor as it is going by, to
blow away most of the remainder of the balloon and thus to expose the
warhead, bare, to the other interceptors that may follow. This is a
possibility, and the United States would no doubt wish to test this
prospect (following the best analysis we can do), but unfortunately for
the effectiveness of the defense, this approach is readily defeated by
the offense, without testing in space. The offense could have several
such balloons shrunk down one over the other, and independently
expanded when the outermost balloon is blown away.
It is not necessary to define the countermeasures that an adversary
nation might use, but only to understand those that might work. They
could choose among several others.
Another simple countermeasure that might have greater appeal to
some, would be to use not a large balloon but a small one, not much
bigger than the warhead itself. Then additional small balloons would
serve as decoys, if the HKV could not tell them apart by means of its
multi-spectral sensor. More than 30 years ago, the Strategic Military
Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee, of which I was a
member, observed that an adversary would no doubt use ``anti-
simulation'' rather than rely strictly on a decoy's simulating the
characteristics of the warhead.
Thus, if the warhead were to be coasting bare through space,
perhaps spinning in a stable fashion, decoys in order to be credible
would need to be pretty much the same size and have the same spin.
However, with anti-simulation, the idea is that the warhead would be
modified or clothed, so as to make it easier to simulate. The warhead
would simulate a cheap decoy, rather than the decoys being required to
simulate an expensive and precise warhead.
An easy way to begin anti-simulation is to put the warhead in a
small lumpy balloon. This would take care of the radar simulation quite
well. It might be better also to have a warhead that is not spun up, as
was the case with warheads of other countries for a long time. Spinning
the warhead improves the reentry accuracy, because a displacement of
the external reentry vehicle from the center of mass of the warhead
otherwise leads to substantial error. But the first-generation ICBMs
are so inaccurate that this will not be a significant impairment of
their accuracy. In any case, it is entirely possible for a warhead to
be spun up just as it begins to reenter and after all possibility of
intercept by the NMD system has passed. When to spin is simply a design
choice, and if spinup before reentry helps to penetrate an NMD system,
it can readily be done.
The warhead itself has substantial mass (perhaps 500-1000 lbs.) and
so does not cool appreciably in its passage through space. Thin empty
balloons, on the other hand, have no such heat capacity. Nevertheless,
it takes less than a pound of lithium battery within such a balloon to
supply as much heat radiation to the interior of the balloon as the
warhead itself would provide, if the warhead were shrouded in
commercially available multi-layer insulation, widely used in
refrigerators, transport of liquid nitrogen, and in space applications.
While the NMD