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What can the United States do to ensure it is safe against ballistic missiles?

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Posted Date: 02/29/2016

Developments in foreign ballistic missile capabilities are in the news recently, from India’s ballistic missile sub to reports that Russia is developing upgraded intercontinental ballistic missiles. According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, the Missile Defense Agency continues work on a Ballistic Missile Defense System to provide a layered defense.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched at 4:36 a.m. during an operational test Dec. 17, 2013, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. It was the 12th and final launch of 2013. Col. Keith Balts, the 30th Space Wing commander, was the launch decision authority. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)


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The ability to ensure safety against ballistic missiles in the US is dependent upon accurate, timely and relevant intelligence. Relevant intelligence should proceed development of innovative defense mechanisms against ballistic missiles. Emerging technologies should refelct the threat at hand and intelligence analysis should provide key information on future threats.

Timely intelligence, as stated above, gives us insight into the capabilities of other states. No state will bank on an untested ICBM, especially knowing it will bring a retaliatory attack. This is great for the intelligence community as it means missiles will require testing, much of which cannot be done in a fully concealed environment. However, issues arise when other projects are used to mask the testing of ICBM components, such as North Korea's satellite launch which many believe was a guise to test ballistic missile capabilities.

Barring intelligence, the U.S. missile defense systems are aging and need a major overhaul. New developments in technology, such as China's WU-14, are already suspected of being able to penetrate current missile defenses. While the mainland may still have enough time to counter a missile launched from Asia, our allies and military installations closer to the launch site do not have enough reaction time. Additional missile defenses in areas where we have key installations, such as South Korea, is a step in the right direction. However, increasing anti-ballistic missile systems to counter new super and hypersonic missiles is required to be of any future use.

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Surround threatening countries with multiple THAAD missile defense systems.

In order to keep the United States safe from ballistic missiles we need to increase funding and research into defense against ballistic missiles. It is difficult to regulate threatening states; therefore, we need to increase our awareness of future threats.