Missile Defense’s Role in 21

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st. Century Deterrence. Wes Rumbaugh. PONI Capstone Conference. March 16, 2017. Missile . Defense’s . Role in Cold War Deterrence. Missile defenses focused on strategic rather than regional defense. ID: 799319 Download

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Missile Defense’s Role in 21

st. Century Deterrence. Wes Rumbaugh. PONI Capstone Conference. March 16, 2017. Missile . Defense’s . Role in Cold War Deterrence. Missile defenses focused on strategic rather than regional defense.

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Missile Defense’s Role in 21

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Missile Defense’s Role in 21

st Century Deterrence

Wes Rumbaugh

PONI Capstone Conference

March 16, 2017


Missile Defense’s Role in Cold War Deterrence

Missile defenses focused on strategic rather than regional defenseCentral problem is strategic stability between United States-Soviet Union

Considered destabilizing to balance of terror

Attempt to break out of MAD

Considered to enable U.S. first strike Exacerbates ‘use or lose’ for Soviets in crisesAlso futile and destabilizing because of action-reaction dynamicsEffectively ended by 1972 ABM Treaty Reinvigorated briefly by SDI debate



The Current Missile Defense DebateFocused on dual questions of affordability and technical feasibility

“Hitting a bullet with a bullet”High costs

These issues


come back to deterrence valueFeasibility is a function of acceptable costAcceptable cost is a function of priorityThe future of EPAA and relationship of missile defense towards RussiaRepeated statements that missile defense is a NATO alliance-wide missionAlso clear that its currently not directed at Russia



21st Century NATO Deterrence Environment

Significant missile proliferationShort-range Iskander ballistic missiles

Longer range cruise missiles tested in Syria

Continued Iranian missile testing after JCPOA

Missiles major component of anti-access/area denial thicketsThinking about limited nuclear conflict as a means to coerce in regional conflictsBy virtue of size of new proliferators’ arsenals (Iran JCPOA breakout)Doctrinal developments in Russia















Missile Defense in A2/ADAdversaries likely to attempt fait accompli

strategiesAttempt to create facts on the ground and raise costs to U.S. and NATO to reverse situation

U.S. has to flow forces into theater

Missile defenses can protect those forces- a capability essential to extended deterrence

Allows smaller permanent forward deployed forces Prevents coercion once facts on ground changeAssures allies, both presence and credibilityComplicates adversary planning- introduces uncertainty11


Missile Defense in Limited Nuclear ConflictBrad Roberts “red zone” conflicts

Attempted use of nuclear weapons below perceived retaliatory threshold of United States“Escalate to deescalate”

Missile defense makes threading the needle between U.S. retaliatory threshold and effective strikes more difficult

Allows United States time in these crises to avoid preemption and escalation

Increases credibility of threats because reduces need to rely on them12


Missile Defense as Assurance to AlliesCan be deployed on allied territory

Visible commitment to their securityTrip wire forceBolsters their resolve should conflict break out

Ability to defeat limited attacks from future Iranian missiles

Important to prevent decoupling of allies

Similar tactic used by Saddam Hussein in Gulf WarThis is especially important at the momentConcerns in Europe about American commitmentAlso rising trends in European society that cause concern13


Missile Defense and Arms RacingCold War assumption that any defensive gains offset by offensive

build-upFeasible for major powers like Soviet Union and United States

Also assumes defenses must be perfect to be valuable

Modern environment may change this assumption

Sanctions are causing havoc in the Russian economyEven limited defenses may spur fears of future expansionMyriad reasons for arms build-upsQuestions about sustainability of current modernization14


Offense-Defense Integration Series of Joint Staff publications highlights important role of offense in MD

Documents as of now are mostly aspirationalSimply “playing catch” is unsustainable

Need to look “left of launch”

Significant implications for both arms control and deterrence

Need for declaratory policy addressed by 2017 NDAARole of nuclear weapons in “left of launch” missile defense15


Conclusions2017 NDAA requirement for a Missile Defeat Review suggests integration both of offense and air defense to be a priority

Evaluating solutions for cruise missile defense at Aegis Ashore sitesINF Treaty Preservation Act

Need to overcome “Russia allergy” when discussing European missile defense

Accelerating efforts to build effective capacity

Includes improved sensor coverageIntegration of current assets acts as a force multiplier16