GOP Pushing to Speed Up Deployment of Advanced Interceptors in Poland

A Standard Missile 3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the USS Lake Erie during an intercept test last September near Hawaii. Senate Republicans want to speed up deployment to Poland of a next-generation version of the interceptor in response to heightened East-West tensions.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
Add to Briefcase
Rachel Oswald
May 6, 2014, 10:46 a.m.

Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans are push­ing for the U.S. mil­it­ary to speed up de­ploy­ment of ad­vanced in­ter­cept­ors in Po­land to send a de­terrent mes­sage to Rus­sia.

A bill in­tro­duced last week by Sen­at­or Bob Cork­er (R-Tenn.) and 22 oth­er GOP mem­bers of his cham­ber would re­quire the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to provide a plan for how to achieve de­ploy­ment of Phase 3 of the “Phased Ad­apt­ive Ap­proach” for European mis­sile de­fense by the end of 2016.

An­ti­mis­sile as­sets un­der the third phase cur­rently are not planned for field­ing in Po­land un­til late 2018, at the earli­est.

The Rus­si­an Ag­gres­sion Pre­ven­tion Act also gives the U.S. gov­ern­ment the op­tion of de­vel­op­ing a dif­fer­ent plan for provid­ing “al­tern­at­ive [an­ti­mis­sile] cap­ab­il­it­ies to pro­tect NATO al­lies in Europe and Euras­ia.”

Though the Cork­er le­gis­la­tion has con­sid­er­able sup­port from seni­or Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans, the lack of a single co-spon­sor across the aisle does not bode well for its chances of pas­sage this year in the Demo­crat-led up­per le­gis­lat­ive cham­ber.

An ad­di­tion­al bill pro­vi­sion that would ban the re­duc­tion of long-range nuc­le­ar-de­liv­ery vehicles un­der the New START ac­cord with Rus­sia also is likely to be un­pal­at­able to the White House.

“The bill is littered with veto bait,” said King­ston Re­if, an ana­lyst with the Cen­ter for Arms Con­trol and Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion.

Mi­chaela Dodge, a stra­tegic de­fense policy ana­lyst at the Her­it­age Found­a­tion, in a phone in­ter­view last week said she be­lieved it made sense to ac­cel­er­ate de­ploy­ment of an­ti­mis­sile sys­tems in Europe.

“I think it’s an im­port­ant step,” she said, not­ing that Rus­sia ap­pears to be in vi­ol­a­tion of the In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nuc­le­ar Forces Treaty and his­tor­ic­ally has been op­posed to U.S. mis­sile de­fenses in Europe.

Dodge ac­know­ledged, though, that spend­ing more money on such plans might be a dif­fi­cult pro­pos­i­tion, giv­en that oth­er pro­grams also are com­pet­ing for mis­sile de­fense dol­lars.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has con­sist­ently main­tained that the in­ter­cept­ors it en­vi­sions de­ploy­ing in Europe do not have the tech­nic­al ca­pa­city to threaten Rus­si­an in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­siles. The Krem­lin has re­fused to ac­cept these polit­ic­al as­sur­ances ab­sent a leg­ally bind­ing agree­ment on the us­age of the U.S. an­ti­mis­sile sys­tems.

Re­if ques­tioned the wis­dom of pur­su­ing any ac­tion that would seem to val­id­ate Mo­scow’s long­stand­ing fears about U.S. mis­sile de­fense plans.

“Des­pite the cur­rent ten­sions with Rus­sia, it is not in the U.S. na­tion­al in­terest to feed the Rus­si­an sus­pi­cion that the [European Phased Ad­apt­ive Ap­proach] is dir­ec­ted at them — an im­pres­sion we have spent years try­ing to dis­pel,” he said in an email.

U.S. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel, dur­ing a Pentagon press con­fer­ence last month with his Pol­ish coun­ter­part, said the United States re­serves the right to “ad­just” its sched­ule for de­ploy­ing mis­sile de­fenses in Europe.

Un­der the cur­rent stated plan for Phase 3, the next-gen­er­a­tion Stand­ard Mis­sile 3 Block 2A in­ter­cept­or is to be fielded at a still-to-be-con­struc­ted site in Redziko­wo, Po­land, in 2018.

However, Pentagon of­fi­cials have quietly ac­know­ledged that “some cap­ab­il­it­ies pre­vi­ously planned for de­liv­ery by 2018 are now ex­pec­ted by 2020 or later,” ac­cord­ing to a March audit by the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice.

Fur­ther­more, the GAO re­port found that some un­spe­cified Phase 3 sys­tems were still too early in the de­vel­op­ment stage to know wheth­er tech­no­logy or per­form­ance prob­lems were likely to be en­countered. There has yet to be a flight tri­al or in­ter­cept test of the Block 2A in­ter­cept­or.

As the United States is co-de­vel­op­ing the ad­vanced mis­sile in­ter­cept­or with Ja­pan, there is only so much that Con­gress can do to rush its de­vel­op­ment, Re­if as­ser­ted.

Dodge ar­gued, however, that the po­ten­tial for achiev­ing an early im­ple­ment­a­tion of Phase 3 still ex­ists. She noted that the Stand­ard Mis­sile 3 in­ter­cept­or class has had an over­all “really good” test­ing re­cord. She said the Pentagon could at least ad­vance the start date for break­ing ground on the in­ter­cept­or site at Redziko­wo.

Yet, the GAO re­port flagged as po­ten­tially prob­lem­at­ic the cur­rent Pentagon plan of de­vel­op­ing some Phase 3 tech­no­lo­gies, while sim­ul­tan­eously de­ploy­ing and in­teg­rat­ing them with oth­er mis­sile de­fense sys­tems.

Cit­ing the con­gres­sion­al aud­it­ors’ find­ings, Re­if ar­gued that there were too many de­vel­op­ment­al risks to the gov­ern­ment speed­ing up work on the Block 2A in­ter­cept­or.

“Phase 3 has already been delayed un­til 2020,” he said. “At­tempt­ing to ac­cel­er­ate im­ple­ment­a­tion would surely ex­acer­bate their con­cur­rency prob­lems.”

What We're Following See More »
CANNOT “IN GOOD CONSCIENCE” VOTE FOR BILL
McCain Won’t Support Graham-Cassidy Bill
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a statement Friday, Sen. John McCain wrote, "I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won't be available by the end of the month, we won't have reliable answers to any of those questions." His "no" vote makes it much less likely Republicans will repeal and replace Obamacare by Sept. 30.

Source:
NEW DIRECTIVES ISSUED
DeVos Officially Replaces Obama-era Sexual Assault Guidelines
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

As anticipated, the Department of Education today withdrew the controversial Obama-era "Dear Colleague" letter on campus sexual assault, replacing it with new interim guidance. Most notably, the new guidance permits colleges to use a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence, rather than the preponderance of evidence standard that the 2011 letter seemed to mandate. "The new guidance also states that colleges may facilitate informal resolutions, including mediation, if all parties agree to participate in that process."

Source:
EXPECTED TO TAKE EFFECT BY SUNDAY
Country-Specific Rules to Replace Travel Ban
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Trump administration will unveil more tailored restrictions on travelers from certain countries as a replacement to the controversial travel ban, according to a senior administration official. The new restrictions will vary by country. They could include a ban on travel to the United States, or new restrictions on obtaining a visa for citizens of particular countries." They are expected to be unveiled by Sunday.

Source:
MORE TRANSPARENCY THAN FEC REQUIRES
Facebook Enhances Disclosure for Political Ads
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a live-streamed address from Silicon Valley, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a nine-point plan that the tech giant is rolling out over coming months to respond to "efforts by nation-states and private actors to use the social media platform to influence U.S. elections." Most importantly, the company will force all advertisers to disclose what ads they're running to all audiences. “When someone buys political ads on TV or other media, they’re required by law to disclose who paid for them,” Zuckerberg said. “But you still don’t know if you’re seeing the same messages as everyone else. So we’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”

Source:
TRUMP ADMIN CRACKING DOWN ON LEAKS
Mandatory Training EPA Employees on Leaking
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

As "part of a broader Trump administration order for anti-leaks training at all executive branch agencies," Environmental Protection Agency employees "are attending mandatory training sessions this week to reinforce their compliance with laws and rules against leaking classified or sensitive government information ... Relatively few EPA employees deal with classified files, but the new training also reinforces requirements to keep 'Controlled Unclassified Information' from unauthorized disclosure."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login