While scrapping the Bush plan, the Obama administration wants to defend Europe by deploying Navy Aegis radar-equipped ships featuring Standard Missile-3 interceptors, which are less capable against long-range missiles but can stop medium-range missiles.
Less-capable radar will be deployed some place in the Caucasus region to replace the planned high-powered radar in the Czech Republic, which was troubled by a “public opinion problem,” Gen. Jones said.
A subsequent phase would include deploying a land-based version of the SM-3, possibly in Poland, and more advanced SM-3s, including future versions that can hit long-range missiles, over the next 10 years.
The new plan means that defenses against Iranian missiles can be in place throughout Europe six or seven years sooner than under the abandoned European plan, Gen. Jones said.
“This package is a much more, I won’t say nuanced, but phased approach that can be ramped up or ramped down any way we want, based on a new threat estimate,” he said.
Efforts by Iran to develop longer-range missiles would be detected, he said. “There’s not much the Iranians can do in terms of developing an ICBM that we won’t know about,” he said. “It just requires testing, and you can tell when they get into that envelope.”
Gen. Jones also said the new policy “factored in some geopolitical issues with regard to developing an emerging relationship, hopefully a good one, with the Russians,” as well as plans to “reinvigorate the strategic value of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” Gaining Moscow’s cooperation in dealing with the “imminent threat from Iran” is one of the priorities for the administration, he added.
He said the new policy was reached “independent of how we think about the Russians” and was based on the right national security policies for the United States. But “an ancillary benefit to the solution set which we think is the right solution, regardless of how the Russians feel about it, was that we could in fact do something that the Russians considered to be important. But it wasn’t the driver by far.”
The focus on near-term threats of Iranian missiles “could also take off the table some of the things the Russians were concerned about, but without affecting our ability to reinforce Article Five of NATO and provide for territorial defense,” he said.
Critics of the Obama administration’s decision to cancel the European sites say it will be viewed as a concession to Moscow that may not be reciprocated.
Also, the new system is designed to defend Europe and the Middle East, but will not be capable of stopping a long-range Iranian missile fired at the continental United States.
“It appears to me the administration has made a risk assumption and they are willing to bet the Iranians will not develop a long-range-missile capability in the near future,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, former director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency.
“If the Iranians fly a 4,000-kilometer-range missile in the next six months, we’re in trouble. We can’t handle that,” he said.
Gen. Obering said he views the new program as “rolling back” the earlier plan to deploy anti-ICBM interceptors in Poland.
“I see this as providing not as much defense, and it certainly can’t defend the United States,” he said.View Entire Story
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A carefully guided tour through the confusing world of modern bookselling and publishing.
“Right Angles” explores serious subjects, such as the Islamization of the Middle East and delegitimization of Israel, with humor, candor and a twist.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Weekly agitation from a columnist who many believed to be one of the least likely to become known as a Conservative Republican.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention