Independent Working Group Issues Major Report on Ballistic Missile Defense

Five years after withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, the United States
has so far failed to take advantage of the withdrawal and revive
development of specific technologies necessary to make the nation and its allies safe from missile attack. On July 10, The Independent Working Group (IWG) issued a major report outlining the need for more ambitious efforts in ballistic missile defense policy. The report, entitled Missile Defense, the Space Relationship, and the Twenty-First Century, advocates the development and deployment of robust missile defense capabilities well beyond the limited ground-based system currently being deployed in Alaska and California. The Claremont Institute is one of eight public policy organizations from around the country co-sponsoring the report.

        The report recommends that the Pentagon build on the legacy of technologies developed under the Strategic Defense Initiative of the Reagan and first Bush administrations. Sea- and space-based assets should constitute the backbone of a robust, layered U.S. missile defense shield, which ground-based systems should support. Such a shield would be capable of protecting the U.S., its allies, and troops abroad against the threat of a hostile missile attacks from any quarter. The missile threat has only increased in recent years as rogue nations and transnational terrorist organizations attempt to acquire ballistic missile technology and weapons of mass destruction. The report praises the Bush Administration for withdrawing from the 1972 ABM Treaty and beginning modest and limited deployments, but also criticizes the failure to use existing technologies to deploy a more robust system actually capable of defending the United States, our troops, and our allies.

        Changes to sea-based missile defense development programs could be made for approximately $350 million, in three specific areas. The U.S. could demonstrate a space-based missile defense system for some $3-5 billion, and field some 1000 space-based interceptors for an anticipated cost of $16.4 billion. Current expenditures for missile defense total approximately $8 billion per year.

        The Independent Working Group is co-chaired by Dr. Robert Pfaltzgraff, President of the Institute of Foreign Policy Analysis (IFPA) at Tufts University, and by Dr. William R. Van Cleave, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University, and a member of the original U.S. delegation which drafted the 1972 ABM Treaty. Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, who in former roles oversaw both development of missile defense for the U.S. and was chief negotiator to the Geneva Defense and Space Talks, Dr. Robert Jastrow, founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Dr. Lowell Wood, a Physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Commissioner on the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) were among the numerous missile defense, space, and security experts from the scientific, technical, and national security policy communities around the country who are members of the Independent Working Group.

        Members of the Working Group also include Brian T. Kennedy, president of the Claremont Institute, and Thomas Karako, Director of Programs at the Claremont Institute and editor of Sponsors and authors of the IWG report include eight think-tanks headquartered in Washington D.C., California, Alaska, Missouri, Massachusetts, and around the country.

        Further, the experts called on the U.S. to recreate and sustain the scientific and technology base—including the workforce needed—to assure U.S. primacy in space and missile defense. That job would be accomplished by revamping organizational leadership of sea and space based missile defense in the U.S., and directing the National Science Foundation and other government agencies to further emphasize research in space technologies.

        The report was released July 10 in Washington D.C., and will be followed by a series of briefings to the public and governmental officials during 2006 and 2007.

        “We cannot be complacent about the missile defense program we have with the new threats the U.S. is facing,” said Dr. Robert Pfaltzgraff, co-chair of the Independent Working Group. “We promised ourselves an effective, layered defense with our withdrawal from the ABM treaty. It is now time to put politics aside and use the most effective technologies to make that happen.” (Article)

» Read the 2007 Report: The Independent Working Group on Missile Defense, the Space Relationship, and the Twenty-First Century (8 MB)
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