TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Chief security challenge: Perfected missile defense

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Rick Nelson
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Earlier this summer, Panamanian authorities seized missile radar systems from a North Korean freighter traveling from Cuba — clear evidence that Pyongyang is continuing its aggressive pursuit of a nuclear missile program. Meanwhile, Iran's extremist government shows no signs of slowing the development of its nuclear program and could have a weapon within a year.

These dual developments highlight the chief threat to American security. With unparalleled military might, America has little to fear from conventional warfare with sovereign states. However, we remain shockingly vulnerable to attacks from rogue states that have acquired a nuclear weapon and the systems to deliver it.

Protecting our nation from such a catastrophe is our chief security challenge. It's crucial that America continue to invest in robust missile defense capabilities.

When Ronald Reagan first proposed building a missile defense system in 1983, the effort was derided by critics. Today, America's political leaders from both parties have recognized the importance of missile defense. Earlier this year, the Obama administration pledged $1 billion for new missile interceptors along the West Coast, Alaska and Guam — primarily in response to North Korean saber-rattling.

Worldwide, our allies depend on this technology. Israel has successfully used missile defenses against real attacks. The technology is a key part of the national defense strategies of Japan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. And Poland and Turkey are considering adopting their own missile defense programs.

But missile defense technology is still a work in progress. In a July 5 test, a missile-defense interceptor missed its target over the Pacific Ocean. It was the Pentagon's third test failure in a row for long-range interceptors.

Yet these long-range interceptors have hit their targets in eight of 16 tests — a significant accomplishment. And in intercepting short-range targets, the Missile Defense Agency has compiled an impressive 14-2 record. If America keeps investing in this technology, there's little doubt we'll soon have a formidable layer of protection against attacks from rogue regimes.

The Pentagon is currently developing four complementary systems: the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System; its naval counterpart, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense; the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD); and the Patriot Air Defense Missile System. Perfecting these missile systems is going to require an ongoing American commitment.

Fortunately, there is a global consensus regarding the necessity of missile defense. The NATO alliance has made territorial missile defense an operational priority. This means America and its allies are now pooling resources and expertise to bring missile defense systems online in a more timely and cost-effective manner.

Rogue state actors will continue to pursue nuclear weapon and long-range missile capabilities with the intention of deploying them against America and its allies. These elements aren't rational. They aren't deterred by mutually assured destruction.

We can most effectively combat this threat by continuing to invest in missile defense technology. Protection for America and its allies will come only through hard work and unwavering commitment in the years ahead.

Rick Nelson, a vice president at Cross Match Technologies, is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he directed the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program from 2009 through 2012.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Marte’s 2 fine defensive plays rescue Pirates in victory over Reds
  2. Comets hold life building blocks
  3. Rossi: Nothing huge, but Huntington helped Bucs
  4. Steelers OLB coach Porter teaches as passionately as he played
  5. Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
  6. Inside The Steelers: LB Williams dominates backs-on-backers drill at Latrobe Memorial Stadium
  7. 2 wounded in Munhall, Homestead drive-by shootings
  8. 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
  9. LaBar: Piper’s influence can’t be understated
  10. Gas meter struck, road temporarily closed near Armbrust Wesleyan Church
  11. Armstrong escapee caught; murder charges pending