Missile Defense Key Security Element, Says U.S. Official

By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England says the United States is working to foster and maintain international partnerships to support its missile defense programs.

“Missile defense is about defending our deployed forces, and our allies, as well as our homeland,” he told missile defense experts attending the fourth annual National Missile Defense Conference on March 20.

Two recently published reports – the National Security Strategy and the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review – highlight the importance of having strong missile defenses. (See related article on the National Security Strategy and related article on the QDR.)

England said missile defense is a central part of the broader U.S. national strategy that can be achieved only over time and with considerable hard work.

Providing adequate missile defense “requires close policy and technical collaboration with our key partners around the world,” he said.

The international reach of missile defense is increasingly important, he said, because 26 nations have ballistic missiles.  In 2005, there were nearly 80 launches, according to the deputy secretary.

“Iran and North Korea – countries that our new National Security Strategy calls ‘tyrannies’ – continue to pursue longer-range ballistic missiles along with nuclear weapons,” England said.

He also addressed the importance of investing in science and technology to ensure the success of the missile defense program, saying:  “We need to continue to make investments in fundamental science, including some of the great projects associated with missile defense.”

England suggested that such investments might produce revolutionary results in the coming decade or two because “science and technology are advancing more rapidly than ever before.”

“Missile defense remains an essential pillar of our strategy,” England said because the United States and its allies face a greater array of national security challenges and uncertainties.

To address that reality, he said, it is important to focus on training the next generation of scientists and experts.  Scientists are today’s “rock stars,” England said, and they need to be supported.

As the United States and its partners pursue missile defense-related programs from Japan to Alaska, the official emphasized the need for “hard work and determination, concerted national and international will, and a firm sense of shared purpose.”

The transcript of England’s remarks is available on the Defense Department’s Web site.

For more information, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.