‘s recent test of a medium-range missile coupled with renewed Russian threats to counter a proposed
missile defense site in
likely will keep debate on the controversial topic alive as President-elect BarackObama takes office in January.
campaign Web site said he supports missile defense but that it should not divert funding from other national security priorities until the technology is proven.
One decision Obama could face fairly early is whether to proceed with his predecessor’s plan to deploy 10 missile interceptors in
and a radar tracking site in the
. The governments of the would-be host countries support the deployments but have yet to win approval from their respective parliaments.
Though its stated intent is to defend against threats from the
, the European site is vehemently opposed by
, which recently threatened to deploy medium-range missiles capable of striking
as a counterweight.
, meanwhile, announced Nov. 11 it had tested a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers.
Speaking with reporters Nov. 12, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry “Trey” Obering, outgoing director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, said
‘s claim, if true, represents a significant leap in capability. He said not going forward with the European missile defense site would be detrimental to the national security of
troops based there.
said he stands ready to brief Obama’s transition team on the current national missile defense architecture. Obering said he was encouraged by what he heard from the Obama campaign before the election, but acknowledged that much remains to be seen about the incoming president’s missile defense policy.
“We understand a lot of folks that have not been in [the current] administration seem to be dated in terms of the program,” Obering said. “They’re kind of calibrated in the 2000 timeframe, and we’ve come a hell of a long way since 2000.”
“If [the Obama team gets] the latest information, I’m confident they will come to the right conclusion,” Obering said.
Phil Coyle, an analyst at the Center for Defense Information and the Pentagon’s former chief weapons tester, said there is no reason for Obama, and the Czech and Polish parliaments to rush a decision on unproven missile defenses in those countries.
“I don’t think there would be any harm in not acting for a year or so,” Coyle said. “I don’t think
is so suicidal [as]to attack
. If they were crazy enough, and believe the missile defense shield were effective, they’d fire more than [10 missiles]. I don’t believe there is a real threat, so there is no reason for either
to make a decision any time soon.”