Obama Administration's missile defense proposal 'simply not credible'

Zbigniew Mazurak

In 2009, the Obama Administration scrapped President Bush's plans for missile defense in Europe in an unprecedented act of capitulation to Russia, thus alienating two allies (Poland and the Czech Republic) with whom Washington had signed missile defense hosting agreements just a year earlier.

At the time, the Administration, including then Defense Secretary Robert Gates, claimed that intelligence data indicated that Iran was now developing short-range instead of long-range ballistic missiles and that therefore the systems envisioned by Bush (a radar in the Czech Republic and 10 Ground Based Interceptors in Poland, also known as "third site elements") were not needed. Instead, Gates and Obama offered the deployment of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)-capable ships and, in the 2018-2020 timeframe, ground-based SM-3 Block IIB interceptors (which have yet to be developed and constructed) intended to intercept long-range ballistic missiles.

At the time, it was already known that such a plan would be 2 times more costly than the Bush plan and would not offer coverage early enough; Iran already possessed, as of 2009, BM25 Musudan-ri IRBMs capable of reaching all European capitals (including London, Dublin, and Lisbon), and the Obama Administration knew this, as cables published by WikiLeaks reveal. CIA veteran Reza Kahlili confirms this. US intel also says that Iran will have ICBMs capable of reaching the United States by 2015.

Last month, testifying before Congress, Secretary Gates lied further, claiming that execution of the Bush Administration's plan was "never going to happen" because, supposedly, Poland and the Czech Republic refused to sign hosting agreements. But this is a blatant lie. In August 2008, Condoleezza Rice, then Secretary of State, signed the relevant agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic. And no sooner was the ink dry that the Vice Chief of the Russian General Staff, threatened these countries with "100% certain" nuclear attack if the third site elements are built.

But, as a recent Defense Science Board (DSB) report reveals, it is the Obama Admin's plan that is unrealistic and unexecutable. The report is classified and only unclassified portions of it have been released and submitted to Congress. Sen. Richard Shelby has obtained a copy.

The DSB dismisses Obama's plan as "simply not credible", saying that the planned SM-3IIB missiles - which currently don't exist and have yet to be constructed and tested - will not be able to intercept enemy missiles in the boost (earliest) phase of flight, as they are being designed to do. Thus, the Obama Administration has bet European missile defense on a nonexistent missile that will never be able to do its job.

By contrast, Bush wanted to deploy existing, tested, proven Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) mid-course interceptors in Poland, the same kind of missiles that are already stationed in Alaska and California. They intercept missiles in the mid phase of flight.

In any case, Central Europe is so far away from the Middle East that any missiles launched from there could intercept ballistic missiles only in the mid phase - exactly as GBIs are designed to do.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is so annoyed by how it's been treated by the Obama Administration that it has refused to cooperate in its new BMD scheme. Even if a Republican Administration takes office after 2012, it will be difficult to regain the Czechs' trust.

And Russia? It's still not satisfied. It wants to see no missile defense systems in Europe, and President Medvedev has threatened a new Cold War and a new arms race (typical Russian bluff, but nonetheless telling) if any such systems are deployed. Obama's arms control chief Ellen Tauscher, a longtime opponent of a strong defense in general and missile defense in particular, is drawing up secret agreements with Russia to drastically limit such systems. And Russia's ambassador has dismissed the potential Iranian threat as nonexistent, at the same time his country is helping to grow that threat.

In short, Obama's missile defense plan is bad news. He has scrapped plans to deploy proven, tested interceptors, revoked signed agreements as if they were worthless pieces of paper, alienated 2 allies, and pushed forward a plan based on nonexisten systems that, as the DSB tells Congress, won't work, thus making the Obama plan "simply not credible."

Therefore, Congress should:

1) 1). Hold hearings on this issue and call on high-ranking Administration officials, as well as independent witnesses, such as former Missile Defense Agency Director LTG Henry Obering (ret.) and think-tank analysts, to testify.

2) 2). Refuse to provide funding for the PAA, or "Phased Adaptive Approach," which the DSB says is "simply not credible".

3) 3). Obligate the Administration, by law, to provide coverage to the US and Europe against all classes of ballistic missiles (not just SRBMs as Gates wanted) using proven, existing systems, as well as the promising systems scrapped in 2009 by Gates.

If If the Administration vetoes such legislation, let it put itself on record as overtly opposing plans to protect America. Then, the American people can vote accordingly.

In 2009, the Obama Administration scrapped President Bush's plans for missile defense in Europe in an unprecedented act of capitulation to Russia, thus alienating two allies (Poland and the Czech Republic) with whom Washington had signed missile defense hosting agreements just a year earlier.

At the time, the Administration, including then Defense Secretary Robert Gates, claimed that intelligence data indicated that Iran was now developing short-range instead of long-range ballistic missiles and that therefore the systems envisioned by Bush (a radar in the Czech Republic and 10 Ground Based Interceptors in Poland, also known as "third site elements") were not needed. Instead, Gates and Obama offered the deployment of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)-capable ships and, in the 2018-2020 timeframe, ground-based SM-3 Block IIB interceptors (which have yet to be developed and constructed) intended to intercept long-range ballistic missiles.

At the time, it was already known that such a plan would be 2 times more costly than the Bush plan and would not offer coverage early enough; Iran already possessed, as of 2009, BM25 Musudan-ri IRBMs capable of reaching all European capitals (including London, Dublin, and Lisbon), and the Obama Administration knew this, as cables published by WikiLeaks reveal. CIA veteran Reza Kahlili confirms this. US intel also says that Iran will have ICBMs capable of reaching the United States by 2015.

Last month, testifying before Congress, Secretary Gates lied further, claiming that execution of the Bush Administration's plan was "never going to happen" because, supposedly, Poland and the Czech Republic refused to sign hosting agreements. But this is a blatant lie. In August 2008, Condoleezza Rice, then Secretary of State, signed the relevant agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic. And no sooner was the ink dry that the Vice Chief of the Russian General Staff, threatened these countries with "100% certain" nuclear attack if the third site elements are built.

But, as a recent Defense Science Board (DSB) report reveals, it is the Obama Admin's plan that is unrealistic and unexecutable. The report is classified and only unclassified portions of it have been released and submitted to Congress. Sen. Richard Shelby has obtained a copy.

The DSB dismisses Obama's plan as "simply not credible", saying that the planned SM-3IIB missiles - which currently don't exist and have yet to be constructed and tested - will not be able to intercept enemy missiles in the boost (earliest) phase of flight, as they are being designed to do. Thus, the Obama Administration has bet European missile defense on a nonexistent missile that will never be able to do its job.

By contrast, Bush wanted to deploy existing, tested, proven Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) mid-course interceptors in Poland, the same kind of missiles that are already stationed in Alaska and California. They intercept missiles in the mid phase of flight.

In any case, Central Europe is so far away from the Middle East that any missiles launched from there could intercept ballistic missiles only in the mid phase - exactly as GBIs are designed to do.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is so annoyed by how it's been treated by the Obama Administration that it has refused to cooperate in its new BMD scheme. Even if a Republican Administration takes office after 2012, it will be difficult to regain the Czechs' trust.

And Russia? It's still not satisfied. It wants to see no missile defense systems in Europe, and President Medvedev has threatened a new Cold War and a new arms race (typical Russian bluff, but nonetheless telling) if any such systems are deployed. Obama's arms control chief Ellen Tauscher, a longtime opponent of a strong defense in general and missile defense in particular, is drawing up secret agreements with Russia to drastically limit such systems. And Russia's ambassador has dismissed the potential Iranian threat as nonexistent, at the same time his country is helping to grow that threat.

In short, Obama's missile defense plan is bad news. He has scrapped plans to deploy proven, tested interceptors, revoked signed agreements as if they were worthless pieces of paper, alienated 2 allies, and pushed forward a plan based on nonexisten systems that, as the DSB tells Congress, won't work, thus making the Obama plan "simply not credible."

Therefore, Congress should:

1) 1). Hold hearings on this issue and call on high-ranking Administration officials, as well as independent witnesses, such as former Missile Defense Agency Director LTG Henry Obering (ret.) and think-tank analysts, to testify.

2) 2). Refuse to provide funding for the PAA, or "Phased Adaptive Approach," which the DSB says is "simply not credible".

3) 3). Obligate the Administration, by law, to provide coverage to the US and Europe against all classes of ballistic missiles (not just SRBMs as Gates wanted) using proven, existing systems, as well as the promising systems scrapped in 2009 by Gates.

If If the Administration vetoes such legislation, let it put itself on record as overtly opposing plans to protect America. Then, the American people can vote accordingly.