Obama Has Let Putin Overtake America's Nuclear Defense

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A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. In light of Russia’s desire to use its nuclear leverage, the U.S. should build a system to shoot down all ballistic missiles, the author writes. U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Reuters

This article first appeared on The Daily Signal.

Recently the Russian strategic missile forces' commander, Colonel General Sergei Karakayev, said Russia's new missiles will have the capability to neutralize any future U.S. missile defense system.

For now, Karakayev is right—not because the missiles are invincible, but because the Obama administration is deliberately limiting the United States' ballistic missile defense program.

This must change.

Background on U.S. Missile Defense Strategy

After the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty in 2002, the United States focused on developing a layered ballistic missile defense system.

The Bush administration concentrated on quick deployment of the ground-based midcourse defense system for the protection of U.S. homeland. This system is made up of ground-based missiles and radars, which can intercept incoming missiles.

To augment the protection within the United States, the Bush administration planned on deploying a radar to the Czech Republic with two-stage ground-based midcourse defense interceptors in Poland.

In order to address intermediate, and short-range ballistic missile threats, the Bush administration developed and deployed Aegis ship-based missile defense system, the Theatre High Altitude Area Defense System and the Patriot system.

Change of Plans Under Obama

The U.S. missile defense plans changed under the Obama administration. Our current administration decided to pursue a European Phased Adaptive Approach, a modified missile defense plan emphasizing medium-range ballistic missile threats, instead of putting a radar and two-stage ground-based interceptors in Europe.

The Obama administration was to augment protection of the U.S. homeland in the 2020 timeframe. But the Obama administration decided to cancel that aspect of the plan and focus on short- and medium-range missile defense protection for the European allies. (Russia happened to object to this part of the plan most.)

The United States therefore is deliberately pursuing a missile defense program to be able to intercept only a handful of incoming ballistic missiles of first, not as technologically advanced generations.

Given the spread of ballistic missiles—their increasing sophistication, range and lethality—it is time to put U.S. missile defense policy on a sound track.

Additionally, in light of Russia's aggressive behavior and a desire to use its nuclear and ballistic missile leverage to blackmail the U.S. and its allies, the United States should plan for a comprehensive-layered ballistic missile defense system capable of shooting down all ballistic missiles.

To do so, the United States will have to pursue a space-based ballistic missile defense layer as well as continue to work on future technologies—for example, directed energy.

Michaela Dodge is a policy analyst for defense and strategic policy in The Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.

Obama Has Let Putin Overtake America's Nuclear Defense | Opinion
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