From: Allen Thomson ([email protected])
Subject: Operational role for MDA?
Newsgroups: sci.military.moderated
Date: 2003-08-23 11:14:00 PST

So does this mean that MDA will, at least for some interim period, 
effectively become a separate military service? Quite a fascinating 
prospect, IMO.
  August 20, 2003
  Pentagon backs off acquisition approach for missile defense
  By Joe Fiorill, Global Security Newswire

  HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-A White House-backed "new model" for acquisitions
  is posing problems for U.S. missile defense development and
  complicating congressional support for missile defense, a top
  Defense Department acquisition official said Tuesday.

  As a result, said Kent Stansberry, "For the time being, we're going
  to set aside our [new] acquisition model." Stansberry is deputy
  director for defense systems in the Office of the Undersecretary
  of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

  The new approach, which involves assigning responsibility for
  different aspects of the missile defense program to different
  agencies, "gives rise to a number of problems," Stansberry said
  at the Space and Missile Defense Conference here.

  In an approach championed in recent years by President Bush and
  Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Missile Defense Agency is
  to have responsibility for research, development, testing and
  evaluation of missile defense technology, while the various armed
  services would be responsible for deploying and operating the
  final missile defense systems.

  "Moving things from MDA into a service" in this way, though, means
  giving the service responsibility for systems it did not develop
  or test, Stansberry said. Ideally, he said, programs would
  experience a "birth-to-death" shepherding by a single agency through
  all stages of their existence.


From: Allen Thomson ([email protected])
Subject: Re: Wolfowitz: Prototype NMD in two years
Newsgroups:, alt.war.nuclear
Date: 2002-03-02 08:48:01 PST

[Redacted] wrote

> Therefore, the ability to defend those freedoms, in spite of a world 
> where local hierarchs are hostile to those freedoms, and where they 
> have nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, requires a multi-layered (3+ 
> layers, IMHO) BMD  system that is continually updated, with new 
> systems being introduced in one layer or another every 5 years or so.
> Those ballistic missiles, that the current BMD policy would negate, 
> are in small arsenals, and will not be able to saturate the defenses 
> we can afford, if both Congress and the Administration are serious 
> about funding the needed multi-generation engineering developments, as 
> new systems are needed to counter new penetration aids.

[Redacted] has been noting these things -- completely correctly, IMHO -- for 
quite some time now. Also IMO, they are really important aspects of the missile 
defense topic with programatic and budget implications that seldom receive 
the attention they deserve. We aren't talking about just procuring and operating 
one thing, but rather entering into a complex, probably expensive process 
that will extend into the indefinite future.  This will require continuing 
political committment even if specific threats are sometimes absent or 
remote, and in the face of competing demands on tax dollars. Which demands 
are expected to become increasingly great in the next decade.

Another aspect of the competition for money is likely to arise because the 
Missile Defense Agency is slightly misnamed; it's really the Missile 
Defense *Development* Agency:

See also

  "The MDA is charged with developing the missile defense system
  and baselining the capability and configuration of its elements.
  The military departments will procure and provide for missile
  defense operations and support."

I.e., MDA gets to develop the systems, but the services get to buy and operate 
them.  What happens when the Air Force has to make a choice between buying 
space-based lasers or F-22s?

Also, because BMD is famously and correctly described as a "system of systems", 
the services are going to have to do a lot more cooperating and trusting each 
other than has been the norm.  As an example, Navy anti-ICBM systems will be 
totally dependent on Air Force systems for early warning and mid-course 
tracking and discrimination functions.

In some cases there are also roles-and-missions implications. For example, 
an Aegis cruiser will become less robust in the air-defense/anti-cruise 
missile role in proportion to the number of MK-41 cells it loads with SM-3 
and successor ABMs.


None of this makes BMD impossible, merely very demanding in terms of 
national and bureaucratic politics.