Thankfully, President Donald J. Trump understands that we need to increase defense spending while pulling back from foreign entanglements to keep America safe. While troops come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation needs to beef up defensive weapons to protect the homeland from foreign enemies. One of the most important ways to protect the homeland is to create a missile defense program that is impenetrable.
On February 4, 2020, before the coronavirus changed the trajectory of the economy and health care, the President mapped out his vision on foreign policy in his State of the Union as follows: “To safeguard American liberty, we have invested a record-breaking $2.2 trillion in the United States military. We have purchased the finest planes, missiles, rockets, ships, and every other form of military equipment, and it’s all made right here in the USA.” The President spoke of his investment to defend America and his efforts to “end America’s wars in the Middle East” and that he is “working to finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops back home.” Both these cornerstones of the Trump Doctrine, beefing up defense while bringing troops home from endless war, are making American safer. Missile defense is a cornerstone to keep the nation from Hawaii to Alaska to Maine to Florida protected from a hostile missile attack.
According to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, the “Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System provides the capability to engage and destroy limited intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile threats in space to protect the United States homeland. GMD employs integrated communications networks, fire control systems, globally deployed sensors, and Ground-based Interceptors (GBIs) that are capable of detecting, tracking and destroying ballistic missile threats.” The GMD is a central component of a layered missile defense program, because it hits the missile when they are the most vulnerable in space and when they are travelling far away from the homeland.
The idea of missile defense was popularized by President Ronald Reagan when he spoke of a robust missile defense system that was derided as “Star Wars” by his detractors. Fast forward to current day and President Trump is working to deploy a “Space Force” that will extend defenses to space. The GMD system has a “Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV)” that uses kinetic energy to destroy an incoming missile while it is in space. Warfare is moving to space and our nation needs to use every tool in the toolbox to be prepared for that shift.
Currently the program is in in need of an upgrade. The agency that manages the program, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), requested $9.2 billion for the whole program. Recently, an emergency appropriations included $200 million specifically for GMD as part of a coronavirus response bill. More resources may be needed to repair an error by a contractor. Defense News reported on July 23, 2020, that the military contractor “Raytheon was the developer” of the Redesigned Kill Vehicle and that new piece of the GMD program was supposed to replace an older version of a kill vehicle that is designed to intercept and destroy incoming missiles. They were to be placed on future interceptors and the estimated total was for 64 new ground-based interceptors that were impacted by the design failure.
It is important from a policy level to make sure that the United States is not deterred by slowdowns in the deployment of technology that protects America. The missile defense program has to be virtually perfect and people will rely on error free technology, much like Americans fly every day without a fear of the airplane experiencing a design failure and a crash. The fact that Raytheon had some problems should lead to the Pentagon looking for a new contractor and a reliable way to get the job done. The final result of all the money the taxpayers are pouring into the program is a missile defense program that provides a deterrent to our enemies like North Korea and Russia. An strong layered missile defense shield will provide both a deterrent and a defense for bad actors abroad who want to attack America.
President Trump’s defense posture is a smart one. The dual strategies of removing troops in harm’s way that are in places that do not forward the goal of protecting America and spending more on defensive weapons and personnel is the way forward in an ever-changing world. Missile defense is a necessary element and money not wasted on roads and bridges in Afghanistan should be redeployed into missile defense upgrades.