Iran, China and North Korea and More: The Case For More U.S. Missile Defenses

March 10, 2021 Topic: Missile Defense Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Joe BidenMissile DefenseGuamChinaRussiaMilitary

Iran, China and North Korea and More: The Case For More U.S. Missile Defenses

America already has some missile defenses, but could the new administration inveset even more in these systems?

Earlier this week, Navy Admiral Phil Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, reiterated his call to build an Aegis Ashore missile defense facility in Guam, in order to deter and defend a potential attack by China. He even cited a recent propaganda effort out of China that showed just such an attack.

“The Guam defense system brings the same ability to protect Guam and the system itself as the three DDGs it would otherwise take to carry out the mission,” Davidson said earlier this month, per USNI. “We need to free up those guided-missile destroyers, who have multi-mission capability to detect threats and finish threats under the sea, on the sea and above the sea, so that they can move with a mobile and maneuverable naval forces that they were designed to protect and provide their ballistic missile defense.”

Now, there’s a call for the Biden Administration to pursue missile defensive more broadly.

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute, wrote for Defense One this week that the Biden Administration should do more to prioritize missile defense.

The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed in January when Congress overrode President Trump’s veto, requires the Department of Defense to provide “the number of locations required for deployment and the production numbers of such systems and interceptors.” President Biden has not yet passed a defense budget.

“These are fair questions. Pressing them will likely lead to sticker shock,” Heinrichs wrote. “It will also reveal political challenges as states vie to host the many sites. It makes sense to pursue a course that might be only partially satisfying. Rather than insisting on an ideal solution that requires these systems, originally designed for regional engagements, to add layers that include full coverage of the U.S. homeland, they should be considered for a ‘surge’ capability.”

Heinrichs noted that when President Obama came to power in 2019, he both cut Bush-era missile defense and scuttled a plan to place GBIs at Fort Greely. However, the latter decision was reversed in Obama’s second term, when those systems were deployed after all, in order to deal with the threat from North Korea.

The author went on to argue that many countries, including Iran and North Korea, are building out missile capabilities, and there’s even some concern that those two countries are cooperating on “a long-range missile project.”

“The Biden administration will inherit the Trump administration’s dilemma: the need to quickly improve homeland missile defense while also committing to programs like the Next Generation Interceptor to ward off increasingly complex missile attacks,” Heinrichs concluded. “The way out is clear, if politically challenging: it must do both.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.