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Resetting Missile Defenses
By James Carafano, Davis Institute of International Studies
Reviewed by John Handley, Vice President, American Diplomacy Publishers

In this article Dr. James Carafano -- Deputy Director of the Davis Institute for International Studies and Director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation -- takes issue with the current state of America’s missile defense program, which he aptly describes as “just enough” rather than truly credible.

Reviewing the history of missile defense, Carafano observes that the Reagan administration’s emphasis “faltered under the first Bush and fell into neutral under Clinton.” Only Congressional opposition prevented the latter from eliminating theater missile defense systems. The next Bush attempted to follow through on a 1999 mandate favoring national missile defense when he abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Congressional opposition and lack of funding, however, undermined his efforts to create a space-based program. The program declined even more when the Obama administration limited the development and deployment of an integrated missile defense system.

Though the U.S. intelligence community reports that Iran is expected to have an operational long-range missile program by 2015, the defenses planned for Europe will not deploy prior to 2018. Obama also took $1.5 billion out of the Missile Defense Agency’s budget, cut from 44 to 30 the number of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, and canceled the European-based defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Those actions embarrassed two staunch allies and appeared to have been surrendered to achieve Russia’s agreement to the New START arms agreement.

Then, there are the reductions in earlier missile defense efforts: Obama ended reliance on the Aegis sea-based portion of the defense system and terminated both the Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) program and the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). The former sought to use small kinetic energy-based vehicles to destroy multiple ballistic missiles, while the latter aimed to replace the Patriot missile. Obama also reduced funding for the Airborne Laser system that would attack ballistic missiles in their initial, or slowest, stage of flight, and New START implicitly limits further development of America’s missile defense program.

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