Missile Plan Sound, But…

Missile Plan Sound, But…

While Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ new missile defense plan has been slammed by Republicans for either giving in to the Russians, abandoning our allies or focusing on the wrong threat, there are other questions that need answering.

One of the most difficult issues is, do we have enough Aegis cruisers to execute the mission. Gates wants two to three cruisers in the Mediterranean and North Sea on a regular basis. That comes on top of the Pacific mission. And I hear that the Aegis fleet is already operating at 160 percent of its readiness rate, mostly to cope with the North Korean threat. One source with detailed knowledge of European missile defense efforts said the new mission will require at least one and perhaps more Aegis class ships to do the job.

Then there are basic questions about cost. Those SM-3 land-based missiles Gates wants to deploy don’t exist yet in any numbers and it will be several years before they reach IOC. And then there are those pesky contract termination costs for the GBI system planned for Poland.

On the whole, one of the most experienced missile defense experts around, former head of the Missile Defense Agency, Trey Obering, believes the administration’s approach may not hurt a great deal but he does have reservations, as colleague Jamie McIntyre notes in a piece he did over at his blog, The Line of Departure.

It’s good in the short-term against short range threats, but still leaves Europe vulnerable to long-range missiles for a decade or more, “We can handle the short to medium range threat with the SM-3s that we have, and with the THAAD that we have, what we can’t handle is anything beyond 3,500 to 4,000 kilometers.”

Gen. Obering acknowledges the Obama administration is not scuttling long-range defenses, just kicking the can down the road.

“Before, if we had had the treaties ratified last year we would have put the first long range interceptor in the ground in 2013 , if you move that a year that would be 2014. But we would have finished it in 2015, 2016. Now we are not going to have any long range protection at all until 2018 or 2020,” Obering says.


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When we read news articles like this we should ask ourselves if we can see the forest for the trees. Certainly Europe is defenseless to long range missiles! Fortunately, long range missiles have NEVER been (effectively) used in the forty years they have been around (see below!). Never been fired in anger, anyway — they have been deterrence weapons and very effective in that use.

Now we do have to acknowledge that the Germans used ballistic missiles to some effect in WW2 (about 1944). The Iran Iraq War did feature ballistic missile attacks against major cities. Desert Storm did have Scud attacks both against Kuwait and more importantly against Israel. The potential for their use, and the potential destruction — is great.

Still, long range cruise missiles have been used frequently and effectively. Bombers have been used effectively. We have countermeasures to the use of both of those since they are needed now.

I am still convinced that the best way to defend a country is by providing “tripwires” of your citizens in harm’s way. And have the understanding with opponents that the loss of those people (military or civilian) would result in immediate retaliation.

And those citizens could easily be provided by basing useful resources (such as heavy transports) near possible targets. That way we have a tripwire but they can be useful — not sitting there being dusted by the maintenance guys.

The most effective use of ballistic missiles in world history has arguably been when Iraq fired them at Israel — trying to provoke a response. Had Israel bombed Iraq it would have split the coalition. That was not a strict military mission, Iraq was not attacking the invading military formations — with those rockets fired at Israel.

So Israel needs anti-ballistic missile defense and they have it. But Europe can best be defended by cooperative military efforts. So that if Iran foolishly fired a missile at Hungary they would be threatening Americans.

Why do we still have to pay for the defense of Europe after 60 years? Why can’t they finanace there own protection. If they want to pull out of Afganistan then we can let them take care of
their own missel defense.

Anthony, its because they are our allies. And honoring our alliances/agreements is extremely important. (Sorry Georgia… Taiwan… Poland… Czech Republic… Cuba…)

Anthony,Europe does not need our protection anymore,They can kick the Russian easily, we still have troops in Europe for tradition,a couple of weeks ago Typhoon from Germany made interception of Bears in the Lithuanian border ‚we
need to bring our troops back.

elgatoso, are you saying Western Europe can beat Russia in a war? Keep in mind if Russia was to go to war with Europe, that Europe would lose almost ALL of its energy supplies they rely so heavily on Russia for. Any resistance they put up would be limited and run out of “fuel” quickly.

Most nations (especially Eastern Europe) will join Russia or surrender as their militaries are obsolete and to small to mount any type of defense *as happened in the cold war*.

Some Western Europe nations could even join them (most note worthy being Germany). They have been moving closer to Russia lately even blocking punishments on them for their war with Georgia. Germany probably needs Russia more then any other nation in Europe.

But put all this aside, if Russia was to attack Europe they belong to NATO so the US would automatically be involved. So why not just keep our forces there instead of spending money to move them home, and eventually spending money to send them back?

Russia doesn’t need to attack Europe. They simply shut off the gas tap like they did last year. For the same reasons China is not a boogyman. Economic warfare these days is cheaper and more effective than trying to drive across Europe and Asia.

Yes ‚I can assure that in a conventional war Europe sweep the floor with Russia.Russia is not the Soviet Union and one by one the Europeans have way better weapons that Russia ‚better training and they are defending their land.The German leopard is way better that the T-series.The Typhoons and even the Tornados are better that the Su27– mig 29.The Europeans have professional armies and the Russian not.The only advantage that the Russian have are the nuclear deterrent.

Apparently you skipped everything about Russia being the biggest supplier of energy to Europe (believe the latest numbers were about 85%+). You can’t fight a war without fuel to power your war machines. You also skipped the fact that Germany is dependent on Russia, thus would never do anything to jeopardize that, hence being neutral/joining Russia.

Jack ‚you could be right in a geopolitical way,or economic warfare,but in conventional war Europe wins.

Sorry,I typed to quick,i mean Zach

If it was only a conventional war, then perhaps they would win in defense (especially after seeing what Georgia did to Russia taking in the size difference), tho a offense might prove hard being how huge Russia is. Both Napoleon and Hitler suffered great defeats when they entered Russia. Even with a bigger army in a surprise attack. Ofcourse they didn’t have multiple allies assisting them…

People say Afghanistan is the graveyard of Empires, Russia would have to be the graveyard of armies :).

yes ‚i agree with you,Russia is the graveyard of armies .

United States should make good relations with Russia to deal with China. China is a major new real danger. The problem Iran comes from Russia and China


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