The Heritage Foundation
Protecting America in the New Missile Age


Henry Obering and Rebeccah Heinrichs on the Missile Threat

April 28th, 2010

Henry Obering, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and former director of the Missile Defense Agency, and Rebeccah Heinrichs, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, co-authored an article for the Washington Times on President Barack Obama’s missile defense policy and the existing missile threat.

Obering and Heinrichs summarize the latest national security developments, such as President Barack Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review and the renewal of START. The Defense Intelligence Agency recently reported that in as little as five years, Iran may be capable of hitting the U.S. with an intercontinental ballistic missile, with North Korea’s help.

An excerpt of the article:

“Although administration officials continue to insist that the treaty does not constrain U.S. missile defense, the Russians have unilaterally declared that they would withdraw if they thought American missile-defense capabilities threatened their strategic nuclear force. U.S. missile defense is not designed to defend against Russian missiles. Its purpose is to defend America and our allies against rogue states and terrorist proxies – the threats outlined in the DIA report.

“But even if we know this to be true, it doesn’t mean the Russians will agree. The ground-based European site posed no threat to Russia, but in spite of the preponderance of evidence, the Russians disagreed. This contributed to the Obama administration’s scrapping the plan and shifting to what is called the Phased Adaptive Approach. We have yet to see how the Russians will react to this plan – a plan that requires the deployment of sea- and land-based assets on or near land occupied by the former Soviet Union.”

While we made concessions to Russia, Iran and North Korea haven’t made concessions to anyone. Missile threats from these two rogue states are growing. Obering and Heinrichs remind us that President George Bush liberated the U.S. from the ban on deployment of integrated missile defenses, but they wonder whether Obama has re-attached the chains when he “reset” relations with Russia. Flexibility is important in the shifting climate.

Read the full article.

North Korea’s Next Shot

June 4th, 2009

On June 11, 2009, the Heritage Foundation will host a panel discussion in Allison Auditorium at 2 p.m. ET. Speakers Lt. Gen. Henry “Trey” Obering and Heritage’s Walter Lohman and James Dean will discuss President Barack Obama’s missile defense budget cuts ($1.4 billion), his limiting interceptor deployment in Alaska and California, and his non-commitment to a third missile shield in Europe.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP at the event web page.

In other North Korea-related news, the Missile Defense Agency says the U.S. military has improved its ability to shoot down long-range missiles North Korea could be gearing up to launch. The military conducted a test simulating an attack from North Korea on December 5. (Source)

This news comes in the wake of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s statement that “there were some signs” North Korea will launch a Taepodong-2, a long-range missile with a reported range of 6,200 miles. Last year, it was reported that North Korea was building a missile launch site capable of firing advanced rockets.

Human Events on ’33 Minutes’ Documentary

February 17th, 2009

Rebecca HagelinThe documentary “33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age” debuted to positive results. A Human Events reporter who saw the film reported that executive producer Rebecca Hagelin warned: “America is vulnerable.”

The Heritage Foundation developed the high-definition documentary to raise awareness about the global danger of missile attacks, especially from countries like Iran and North Korea. An excerpt:

“Ballistic missiles follow a sub-orbital flight path to reach a predetermined target. Technology like this in the hands of rogue governments — such as North Korea is and soon Iran will be – is extremely dangerous to America and its allies. North Korea is working on long-range ballistic missiles that would have the capability to send a nuclear warhead to Alaska or California. Iran is in possession of weapons that can hit Europe, and will soon be able to produce nuclear weapons. And an even greater risk is that North Korea and Iran are likely to sell or give their technologies to terrorist organizations.”

In these perilous times, George W. Bush was the ideal man to lead our nation in protecting not just the homeland, but vulnerable countries around the world. What Bush managed to do, the Obama administration may undermine. Developing and maintaining anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) take money, dedication, and determination.

“When there is a missile in the air you have to have the ability to destroy it because the only other ability that you would have would be to apologize to those that died,” said the Missile Defense Agency’s Lt. Gen. Henry Obering.

Read more at Human Events.

33 Minutes on YouTube

February 3rd, 2009

While we work, play, and sleep, the enemy is stockpiling an arsenal for our demise. Countries like North Korea, Iran, and Russia already have or will soon have the capability to kill potentially millions of Americans. We must continue to develop and strengthen our missile defense systems.

Coming this month is a high-definition documentary titled, “33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age,” which explains the history of missile defense, the present global nuclear threat, and what the U.S. must do to protect itself and the world. This film will serve as a wake-up call to complacency and apathy. Prepare to be angry, shocked, enlightened, and inspired. While many countries in the world may be against us, we’ve always counted on the tenacity of freedom-loving people to remind our leaders of the constitutional mandate to protect and defend.

In the meantime, visit our YouTube Channel, where you can watch a two-minute trailer for the documentary (embeded above) as well as short clips featuring Heritage Foundation experts, Lt. General Henry Obering of the Missile Defense Agency, and others.

Henry Obering Ready to Address Missile Shield Concerns

November 18th, 2008

Henry OberingMissile Defense Agency director Lt. Gen. Henry “Trey” Obering said he’s looking forward to reporting to President-Elect Barack Obama on the effectiveness of the missile defense systems planned for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Obering said the missiles are “workable.”

“Our testing has shown not only can we hit a bullet with a bullet, we can hit a spot on a bullet with a bullet,” he said at a news conference. Obering warned that abandoning the project would impede America’s ability to protect allies in those regions.

Although Obama has not committed to installing the bases, he has stated he’d make sure the systems were functioning properly before going forward. Obering appears ready, willing, and able to address the new president’s concerns when he visits the Pentagon.

Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly said Russia would not install missiles near Poland if the U.S. cancels its plans to install missile defense systems. Neither Poland’s nor the Czech Republic’s parliaments have ratified the agreements.

(Source: AFP)

U.S. Considers Alternate Missile Sites, Eases Russia’s Concerns

November 10th, 2008

In the event that Poland’s and the Czech Republic’s parliaments don’t ratify agreements signed by the U.S. and the two countries to build missile defense bases, the U.S. will consider alternate installation sites. Missile Defense Agency commander Lt. Gen. Henry Obering didn’t elaborate about specific locations.

Obering stressed the urgency of building the bases. “Most of the intelligence community believes that the Iranians are going to have a capability to threaten certainly all of Europe. In fact, that’s something they believe could happen shortly, within the year…And they can threaten the United States in the next five to six years.”

John RoodCzech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek reportedly said parliament should delay a final decision until President-Elect Barack Obama takes office in January. Target dates for completion of the bases are between 2011 and 2013.

On a related note, the U.S. State Department’s top arms control official said the U.S. is attempting to quell Russia’s concerns about the Polish and Czech missile defense bases. Russia has been critical of these plans, perceiving hostility from the U.S.

John Rood, Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said the U.S. has sent Russia an offer to allow Russian monitors access to the bases to confirm that installations will not be aimed at Russia.

Hood said he was disappointed by Russia’s threats at retaliation, but the U.S. will not “disengage or something of that nature…Rather, to the contrary, we think it’s just as important as ever to talk to the Russians about their concerns. We don’t think that there’s a legitimate basis to view what we’ve done, our plans, in Poland the Czech Republic as a threat to Russia.”

Will allowing inspections satisfy Russia? Probably not.

(Sources: NTI and State Department)

Missile Defense Quick Links for Friday

October 31st, 2008

The Pentagon

*The Pentagon takes the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to task in a new 60-page study. The Institute for Defense Analyses carried out an independent study of the MDA to examine and make recommendations about long-term missions, roles, and structure.

The MDA is directed, among other things, to develop missile defense systems. But the MDA’s rapid development and deployment of the systems have come at the expense of planning and preparation, the Pentagon concludes. The report recommends the MDA re-focus on research. Download the report in PDF. (The Huffington Post)

*The AFP reported in September that the island nation of Taiwan would not deploy missiles capable of hitting Shanghai, China. This week the AFP reported that Taiwan plans to make up to 300 Hsiungfeng 2E cruise missiles. China lays claim to Taiwan, but it’s governed separately and has been since 1949. Should Taiwan decide to become independent, China most likely will threaten war. (AFP)

*Public Survey on Missile Defense – The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, formed after the September 11 terrorist attacks, has published a series of public survey results. These results are presented in Power Point and Word documents. To find out what Americans, Poles, and Czechs think about missile defense, visit the survey page.

*U.S. military sources reported that a fire occurring on May 23 at a nuclear facility burned undetected for five days. The fire, which resulted in $1.4 million worth of damage, was caused by a bad battery charger. (Herald Sun)

*The MDA’s General Henry Obering said he’s concerned about the ratification of the agreement between the U.S. and Poland to build a missile defense system in Poland. Finalized some months ago, the agreement must be approved by parliament. Democrats in Congress have threatened to withhold funding until the Polish parliament ratifies the agreement.

“If we get ratification by the end of this year,” Obering said, “we will still not be able to put an interceptor on the ground in Poland until 2012.” (AFP)

Obering Says Ballistic Missile Defense Exercise Successful

September 2nd, 2008

According to Lieutenant General Henry “Trey” Obering, set to retire as director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) this year, an exercise involving Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) elements was completed successfully.

During what’s described as a “routine operational test” of an Air Force strategic missile earlier this month, the BMDS elements detected and tracked long-range missiles. The Air Force test is called Glory Trip 194, and its purpose is to determine whether the “ground-based strategic deterrent force” is ready for operation.
Download the MDA’s press release (PDF) for more information.

Missile Defense Quick Links

August 14th, 2008

Henry Obering*** Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Lt. Gen. Henry Obering is set to retire, ending his 35-year military career. Among his other accomplishments, Obering helped the National Reconnaissance Office secure an out-of-control spy satellite loaded with 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel. The office was concerned the fuel would kill people when the satellite landed. Using a missile interceptor, the agency shot down the satellite. (Source)

*** To protect itself against “possible missile attack,” Turkey intends to acquire eight missile defense systems, according to Murat Bayar, an undersecretary for Defense Ministry. The first target date is 2010. Turkey is negotiating with China, Israel, Russia, and the U.S. to obtain these systems. (Source)

*** An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile launched successfully earlier this week, according to the U.S. Air Force. Traveling about 4,220 miles over the Pacific, the missile’s targets were close to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (Source)

*** For the first time, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Aegis radar systems worked together to destroy a warhead dummy target just below the 60-mile envelope of the earth’s atmosphere off the Hawaiian coast in June. According to MDA spokesman Rick Lehner, “THAAD radar was able to direct and cue the Aegis radar,” which was “very significant for the missile defense infrastructure to be able to pass along radar cues to other platforms like Aegis.” (Source)

Israel and U.S. To Develop Arrow-3 Missile Defense System

August 12th, 2008

arrow-3Israel and the U.S. will jointly develop Arrow-3, an advanced ballistic missile defense system. According to Middle East Newsline, the Arrow-3 is a new generation system that will be designed to destroy multiple-warhead missiles and decoys. This joint effort was revealed last week when Henry Obering, director of the Missile Defense Agency, visited Israel.
Two weeks ago, we wrote that the U.S. was considering deploying missile defense radar to Israel. Robert Gates, secretary of the Department of Defense, said the two countries would explore the possibility of sharing missile early warning launch information and funding two projects that would defend against short-range rockets and mortars.

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