Monday, September 21, 2009

Obama sharply alters missile defense plans

From the US Air Force Times, Saturday Sep 19, 2009, by William H. McMichael:

In a major policy reversal, President Barack Obama has scuttled plans to build a massive ground-based missile defense system based in the Czech Republic and Poland that the Bush administration intended to counter the threat posed by Iranian ballistic missiles.

Instead, Obama favors shorter-range ground- and sea-based missiles positioned closer to Iran.

The new system, which Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said will be “globally deployable, ... globally exportable,” initially will center around ground-based Patriot and Aegis-ship-based SM-3 missiles, networked command-and-control systems and improved sensors. It will mimic the ship-based defense system now used in the joint defense of South Korea and Japan, he said...

...Now off the table are plans to build the politically sensitive system that Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed to President George W. Bush in 2006 that called for construction of a complex radar station in the Czech Republic and the installation of 10 silo-based Ground-Based Interceptor missiles in Poland...

....Russia had long opposed the 2006 U.S. plan, saying it would undermine its strategic nuclear posture. Asked whether the cooled relations that resulted were a factor in formulating the new policy, Gates said the Russians “are probably not going to be pleased that we are continuing with missile defense efforts in Europe.”

But two elements of the new plan should allay those fears, [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates said. The new sensor plan will not have the capability to look deep into Russia, as the previous omni-directional system could have. ...And the SM-3, with its kinetic warhead, is a weapon that Gates said the Russians “simply cannot, at least rationally, argue bears any kind of a threat to Russia.”

...The overriding U.S. motivation for the change, Gates said, was “almost exclusively” driven by the new intelligence assessments and improvements in technology....

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