Missile Defense Makes War Less Likely, Rather Than Precipitating Conflict
Another Minuteman Overhaul May Be Needed
U.S. moves to form a multi-layered ballistic missile defense (BMD) shield help to avert conflict, much as the vast U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons dissuades any who otherwise would attack American targets, a general said.
His comments counter statements of Russian leaders, who allege that U.S. plans to emplace a Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system in Europe are an offensive threat aimed at Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Maj. Gen. Roger W. Burg, commander of the 20th Air Force at Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., made his comments during a breakfast seminar of the National Defense University Foundation at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington.
Burg said he sees the American array of ICBMs tipped with nuclear weapons as a force for peace, because no one would dare attack the United States and elicit a devastating nuclear retaliation.
Similarly, he said U.S. development of a ballistic missile defense shield should deter enemies from attacking the United States, its allies or interests, and perhaps make enemies back away entirely from developing weapons of mass destruction.
On another point, Burg said the current fleet of Minuteman ICBMs is about 80 percent through a recapitalization plan to improve their capabilities, but warned that Congress will have to fund a further refurbishment of the ICBM fleet if the Minuteman is to be pushed from its 2020 design life limit to 2030.
Separately, a similar view on missile defense as a facilitator of peace came from the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA).
According to MDAA, the creation of a U.S. missile defense shield provides any president of the United States with an option other than mutual assured destruction attacks, if an enemy launches a missile attack on American targets.
Missile defense systems can avert nuclear war, according to the MDAA.
"With the continued movement of Iran in its role in Iraq as well as its doubling of centrifuges for enrichment of uranium which was displayed last week in Washington D.C. and Tehran, our nation has limited options, of which military action is one," according to MDAA.
Some have said that the United States should strike Iranian nuclear production targets, annihilating them before the missiles-wielding Middle Eastern nation gains the power to use nuclear blackmail against other Middle Eastern nations, European countries or the United States.
"We believe that the advent of deployed missile defense systems on the borders and beyond Iran will give our nation another option that it currently does not have, so that we can prevent future conflict and protect our men and women of the armed forces," according to MDAA.
That referred to those plans for a GMD defense shield based in the Czech Republic (radar) and Poland (interceptors in silos).
"Most important is the international mandate and cooperative efforts being done today that was reflected by the NATO endorsement of 26 nations for missile defense to protect, deter and dissuade the threat from Iran," MDAA asserted.
Russia had pressured NATO in vain, demanding that it not endorse the U.S. GMD plan.
But now, with the United States on the verge of gaining Czech and Polish permission to base the GMD system there, Russia has turned more conciliatory.
"It is also very significant that the country that was most opposed to missile defense has made a change on its position, as Russia is now working with the United States on a strategic framework on missile defense," the MDAA observed.
"This multilateral international effort is driven by the need to have an additional option to prevent, dissuade and deter going to war against Iran."
Some Democrats, including presidential candidates, Sens. Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, have been cool to any thought of taking military action against Iran.
"In this vein, MDAA has made strong efforts to reach out to all of the United States presidential candidates, the current … Congress, international governments and Russia," MDAA stated.