FAS Homepage | Index | Search | Join FAS

Missile Defense Agency

On 2 January 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued a memo creating the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). This new agency, formerly known as the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), reorganized how the Defense Department addresses missile defense. The new MDA combines all aspects of the different missile defense systems programs (theatre and national missile defenses) into a single program.

The new agency, whose director will report directly to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, is assigned to streamline the Pentagon's missile defense research and development program with a focus on block upgrades and system deployment. In addition, the memo directs that all ballistic missile defense system development and testing will be planned without regard to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. However, no action will be taken that would violate the treaty until the U.S. officially abrogates the treaty in June 2002. In addition, MDA will approach missile defense from a capability based approach to defense planning instead of the threat based approach which has dominated past thinking. This way of thinking about defense planning looks at "how an adversary might fight rather than specifically whom the adversary might be or where a war might occur."

Secretary Rumsfeld, as part of the 2 January 2002 memo, identified the four priorities for the new Missile Defense Agency. The first is to .defend the U.S., deployed forces, allies, and friends.. Secondly, MDA is to deploy a layered missile defense shield that will have the capability to intercept missiles during the boost, midcourse, and terminal phases of their flights. The memo directs the Services to deploy elements of missile defense as soon as possible as its third priority. Lastly, the MDA will work and to develop and test technologies, use prototypes and test assets to provide an early capability for the deployment of a ballistic missile shield.

To help achieve these goals and priorities, Rumsfeld decreed that the single program for development be implemented to design, develop, and test the elements of an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS)). Furthermore, the MDA is to take a flexible approach to BMDS development so that the elements are interoperable and complement each other and supports the deployment of BMDS in different combinations of over time. Budgeting for research, development and testing will be the responsibility of the MDA while procurement for BMDS is the responsibility of the Services.


FAS Homepage | Index | Search | Join FAS