Gordon England Sees Missile Defense Needs Amid Rising Threats
The United States and its allies may simultaneously face ballistic missile threats from major nations such as China and Russia, and from rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England said.
“America and our friends and allies could still potentially face state-based threats,” England warned at the Fifth Annual Missile Defense Conference.
“The future courses of major powers like China and Russia are not clear, and they continue their sophisticated military modernization programs,” England cautioned.
That referred to a newly militarizing Russia, and to a China that is buying cutting edge aircraft, four new types of submarines, destroyers, hundreds of radar-guided missiles including some that can strike the United States, and more.
As well, China “painted” a U.S. military satellite with a ground-based laser, destroyed one of its own aging weather satellites with a hit-to-kill missile showing U.S. space assets are at risk, surfaced a Chinese submarine within torpedo range of a U.S. aircraft carrier, and more.
Meanwhile, North Korea fired a series of missiles in July, and detonated a nuclear weapon in October. And Iran fired a missile from a submerged submarine, and is ignoring world opinion, instead pushing ahead with a nuclear materials development program.
“Our job is to be prepared for the future,” England said.
Interestingly, England sees the smaller states in this picture as even more dangerous.
“Rogue states pose different and even more threatening challenges,” he said. “Iran directly sponsors terrorist groups, interferes unhelpfully in Iraq, and continues to pursue nuclear weapons under the guise of a peaceful nuclear program.”
Turning to Asia, England noted that “North Korea tested a nuclear device last October, and continues to threaten its neighbors and beyond.”
While one hopes that Iran and North Korea will become reasonable and abandon nuclear and missile development programs, common sense indicates that may be a vain hope, England indicated.
“The United States is hopeful that diplomatic efforts will achieve results in both cases — but both states’ track records as proliferators suggest the need for vigilance … and preparation,” England said.
And then there are terrorist groups wielding missiles in large numbers.
“Hezbollah – a Foreign Terrorist Organization supplied by Iran — launched over 4,000 rockets across the border into Israel,” a U.S. ally, England noted. “This is an enemy that targets civilians, and that hides among civilian populations and uses them as shields.”
Sadly, England predicted, “It’s the kind of enemy that we will increasingly face, everywhere in the world, going forward.”
Missile Defense Vital
With missile threats lurking around the globe, it is patently obvious that the United States must be able to protect itself and its allies and interests, England argued.
“We do know this: the best defense is to neutralize the threat,” he said. “Effective missile defense is an integral part of America’s strategy for meeting the security challenges we face — from potential peer competitors, from rogue states, and from proliferation.”