In principle, U.S. BMD systems make several critical contributions to U.S. security. They can:
· defend the American homeland, U.S. forces and citizens located overseas, and U.S. friends and allies
· deter such attacks by enhancing both the capacity and the perceived will of the defender to thwart any aggressionEnjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
· dissuade potential aggressors from seeking to acquire and deploy ballistic missiles or nuclear warheads by reducing their perceived value
· reassure U.S. friends and allies about the U.S. will and commitment to defend them, which contributes to other U.S. goals such as dissuading them from obtaining nuclear or other destabilizing retaliatory weapons
· overcome anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) and other asymmetric tactics that use missiles to try to negate U.S. conventional advantages
Under both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, the United States has employed a variety of tools to address these missile threats. U.S. officials have engaged in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy in an effort to persuade North Korea and Iran to end their nuclear weapons programs and refrain from the further testing of ballistic missiles. They have also used declaratory policy by repeatedly warning these countries against developing, testing, or using these capabilities. Additionally, the United States has provided security assistance to help U.S. allies enhance their own defense capabilities. The Pentagon also bases or deploys large numbers of U.S. troops in each region, with an impressive range of conventional and unconventional capabilities, reinforced by U.S.-based assets with global reach, such as long-range strategic bombers. The United States has offered many of these countries diverse security guarantees, including implicit and sometimes explicit pledges to potentially employ U.S. nuclear capabilities to protect them. Finally, the United States has been constructing missile defense architectures in each region as well as globally to counter Iranian and North Korean missile threats. These include short-range missile defense systems such as PAC-3 batteries, theater defenses such as THAAD and Aegis-equipped naval vessels, and the ground-based midcourse interceptors based in Alaska and California.
Indeed, during the past decade, the United States has made considerable progress in addressing these missile threats through augmenting U.S. and allied missile defenses. In Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the United States has been working to establish the foundation for a regional missile defense system made up of U.S. forward deployed BMD systems combined with those of U.S. friends and allies. The United States has been pursuing BMD cooperation (joint research and development programs as well as selling BMD systems) with various countries in Europe (bilaterally and through NATO), the Asia-Pacific (Japan, Australia, and South Korea), and the Middle East (Israel and Gulf Cooperation Council members). These allies and friends can host forward-based BMD sensors and missile interceptors, share the costs of building and maintaining the BMD architecture, and network their data with other actors to provide a superior operational picture.
In each region, the administration has been pursuing a phased, adaptive approach that adjusts U.S. BDM policies in a flexible manner as the missile threats evolve. Its approach to missile defense in each region has differed based on the specific threats that region faces as well as the level of regional cooperation mechanisms that are in place.