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Secretary Robert Gates on Missile Defense

February 26th, 2010

Robert Gates

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both spoke at the Atlantic Council this week to discuss factors that should be considered as NATO drafts a new “Strategic Concept,” which defines NATO’s purpose, nature, and security tasks.

Secretary Gates said Europe has underfunded defense budgets for NATO, and consequently, has undermined joint security. Specifically, he mentioned missile defense. Land invasion is no longer a pressing threat. The danger of missile attacks is more critical and “more likely to come from outside NATO’s traditional borders; and more likely to require new approaches that incorporate far more than just military power.” (Source)

On the president’s new missile defense policy: “Last year, the Obama administration announced a new plan for missile defense in Europe – a phased, adaptive approach that will give us real capabilities in a shorter period of time than the previous plan. We consider this a U.S.-funded contribution to NATO missile defense, which is critical to the collective-defense mission to protect our populations, territory, and forces.”

Iran is focusing on short- and medium-range missiles, but its long-range capability also poses a threat, whether the capability reaches fruition next year or five years from now. One of the top funding priorities is missile defense. The U.S. and our allies must prepare for long-range weapons, particularly from countries outside NATO that defy the U.N. Security Council.

In scaling back Bush-era missile defense policy, including reducing interceptors in Alaska and California, the Obama administration has left the U.S. vulnerable to long-range ballistic missiles and jeopardized systems like Ground-based Midcourse Defense. In assessing the missile threat, however, the administration seems to realize the need for more, not less, funding for these programs.

Secretary Gates acknowledged the importance of missile defense in his speech, but funding (or the lack thereof) reflects priority. We hope the administration restores missile defense funding and keeps all our options open. Read Gates’s full remarks.

Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Remarks on Missile Defense and Russia

February 26th, 2010


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the NATO Strategic Concept Seminar on Monday and urged Russia’s cooperation in preventing nuclear proliferation and other transnational threats. (Source)

Clinton said missile defense “will make this continent a safer place. That safety could extend to Russia, if Russia decides to cooperate with us. It is an extraordinary opportunity for us to work together to build our mutual security. Missile defense, we believe, will make this continent a safer place. And that safety could extend to Russia if Russia decides to cooperate with us. It provides an extraordinary opportunity for us to work together to build our mutual security in the 21st century. The spirit of collective defense must also include nontraditional threats. And we believe NATO’s new Strategic Concept must address these.”

Relations between NATO and Russia soured last year after NATO criticized the former Soviet Union for invading Georgia. Clinton told the audience what NATO expects from Russia:

“We have real differences with Russia on several issues. And we intend to use the NATO-Russia Council as a forum for frank discussions about areas where we disagree. We will use it to press Russia to live up to its commitments on Georgia and to reiterate our commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. We will use it to challenge the assertion put forward in Russia’s new military doctrine that NATO’s enlargement and its global actions constitute a military danger to Russia. We will also use the Council to advocate on behalf of human rights and individual liberty – these are principles and values that Russia committed to uphold when it accepted the NATO-Russia Founding Act.”

Russia and NATO are cooperating in training counternarcotics officers from Afghanistan and Central Asia to stop drug trafficking, and Clinton said she hopes there will be missile defense cooperation as well.

“[W]e hope to extend that cooperation to other fields, again, most notably in the area of missile defense…NATO and Russia should have a regular exchange of information on posture, doctrine, and planned military exercises, as well as specific measures to permit observation of military exercises and to allow visits to new or significantly improved military installations. We look forward to working closely with all of our Allies, Russia, and our other partners in the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty during the coming months to reverse the erosion of this valuable regime. If we truly believe that our security is indivisible, we must do more to strengthen the sense of strategic reassurance across the Euro-Atlantic area. As we look ahead, our challenge with Russia is to build a relationship where the principles that both sides have agreed to on paper are consistently respected in practice.”

Read Clinton’s full remarks.