ROBERT M. GATES
Sunday, Sept 20th, 2009
Prisonplanet Comment: Missile Defense, which should really be re-named “empire offense”, is not being “scrapped” as every headline suggested last week. It is in fact being beefed up.
THE future of missile defense in Europe is secure. This reality is contrary to what some critics have alleged about President Obama’s proposed shift in America’s missile-defense plans on the continent — and it is important to understand how and why.
First, to be clear, there is now no strategic missile defense in Europe. In December 2006, just days after becoming secretary of defense, I recommended to President George W. Bush that the United States place 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic. This system was designed to identify and destroy up to about five long-range missiles potentially armed with nuclear warheads fired from the Middle East — the greatest and most likely danger being from Iran. At the time, it was the best plan based on the technology and threat assessment available.
That plan would have put the radar and interceptors in Central Europe by 2015 at the earliest. Delays in the Polish and Czech ratification process extended that schedule by at least two years. Which is to say, under the previous program, there would have been no missile-defense system able to protect against Iranian missiles until at least 2017 — and likely much later.
Last week, President Obama — on my recommendation and with the advice of his national-security team and the unanimous support of our senior military leadership — decided to discard that plan in favor of a vastly more suitable approach. In the first phase, to be completed by 2011, we will deploy proven, sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles — weapons that are growing in capability — in the areas where we see the greatest threat to Europe.
This article was posted: Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 5:29 am