This column by ACRU Senior Fellow and Policy Board member J. Kenneth Blackwell was published April 5, 2017 by Townhall.
When it comes to national security, eight years of former President Barack Obama’s diplomatically weak approach to dealing with hostile regimes has made America and our allies less safe.
The world faces increasingly hostile threats from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. For example, Iran’s actions are more dangerous than ever as they continue to develop ballistic missiles, some with a reported range of more than 1200-miles. And we also face increasing hostility from North Korea. Dictator Kim Jong Un, whom Senator John McCain (R-AZ) recently labeled a “crazy fat kid,” seems even more determined to provoke America and our allies after launching four ballistic missiles into the sea, three of which landed in waters controlled by Japan.
As these rogue nation’s missiles become more accurate they pose a greater threat to the U.S. and our allies and interests in Europe, and it is clear that diplomacy, U.N. resolutions and sanctions will not stop them.
While the establishment media continues to obsess over ways to blame Hillary Clinton’s defeat on Russia, they seem uninterested in how President Obama opened the door for Russia’s deadly actions in the Ukraine and Syria, which has put all of Europe on high alert.
During a recent trip to Poland, I met with Polish resistors and Jewish concentration camp survivors who shared harrowing stories of incredible sacrifice and bravery while facing evil. They, along with government leaders, wanted to take the temperature of U.S.-Polish relations and find new ways to strengthen strategic ties to protect themselves from an increasingly hostile Russia. With a proposed more than $50 billion increase in defense spending, I assured them that President Donald Trump is committed to investing in keeping Russia under control. But it will take a collaborative effort with our European allies to ensure success.
During President Obama’s tenure, the Pentagon shifted focus on European missile defense by stopping the deployment of an advanced radar in the Czech Republic and ground-based ballistic missile interceptors in Poland. Instead, the focus became what is known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), which implements strategic placement of land-based interceptor missiles in Romania, Poland, and at sea, using the highly capable and proven Standard Missile-3 (SM-3).
While EPAA’s policies advance European missile defense, it’s not enough — we can’t stop there, especially in today’s increasingly hostile world. Despite Russia’s false claims, the EPAA is designed to defensively protect from threats from countries such as Iran and North Korea. It’s important the Trump Administration continue and strengthen the efforts of EPAA.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has rightly called for our NATO allies to also boost their defense spending and prioritize missile defense. The U.S. cannot alone support these efforts.
While missile defense was not a priority of the Obama administration, these global threats are real and evolving rapidly. It is time for robust defensive measures.
Our Missile Defense Agency has spent decades of countless man hours and billions of dollars improving the SM-3 and existing ground-based interceptors. These are now the most accurate missiles on earth and can swiftly take out missiles from enemies while still in flight.
It is essential that the new Defense budget supports and expands this existing, accurate missile technology. America should continue improving what we already have. By focusing on incremental evolutions, such as upgrading these missiles’ hit-to-kill (or kill vehicle) technology, which uses kinetic energy from a direct hit to destroy the incoming target vehicle. This is extraordinary technology that’s come with a lot of lessons learned. Continuing down this path, America can work with our European allies to ensure our continued safety on the fastest possible timeline.
The proliferation of ballistic missiles and potential ways to deliver them threatens America’s largest cities, critical infrastructures, and our military forces. We must ensure our nation is fully prepared to combat these ballistic missiles by dedicating the resources necessary to improve upon the successes of current kill vehicle technology to create the redesigned kill vehicle of the future, today.
The Pentagon is facing many battles over funding priorities, so it is essential to protect ourselves from the near-term missile threats while being prudent with taxpayers’ money. By supporting and smartly expanding our missile defense technology, Congress and the Trump administration have the opportunity to finally make America safe again.