The U.S. global missile defense program is slowly gaining momentum. Following Japan’s decision to join the ambitious project, the U.S. is now negotiating with Poland.
Early talks concerning Poland’s strategic place in the U.S. defense crown jewel are scheduled to begin in July and the Polish minister of external affairs was quick to inform the media his government is looking favorably at the project as part of the former Soviet block country’s participation in the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO. Although no details relating to the nature of Poland’s participation in the project were disclosed, it is clear the country’s interest is also economically driven.
U.S. officers involved with the project’s planning say the idea of locating a highly sensitive detection and monitoring land based system will assure early detection and interception of ballistic inter-continental and even medium range missiles from the moment of ignition or through the early stage of lift off. The second stage will be to intercept incoming missiles through an elaborate construction of combined land, sea and air monitoring and weapon systems, including satellite and space based structures.
In addition Poland’s apparent anticipated decision to join the project, the U.S. received assurances that British radar and monitoring systems located in Yorkshire will begin an expensive upgrading plan to be compatible to the global missile defense project. All this will secure Western Europe from any surprise attacks by rogue nations in the Middle East or North Africa as well as from Eastern Europe and even missiles launched from nuclear submarines and the future possibility of WMDs fired from outer space. Germany, Italy and Spain are already involved with the interception part of the system, investing in research and development of anti-missile systems while countries such as Holland are investing in upgrading their PAC-3 (Patriot anti-missile systems).
A similar part of the global network will be based in Japan and on board U.S. Navy and Japanese Aegis missile destroyers permanently deployed in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific with Australia also becoming a partner. The U.S. is also investing in upgrading the Israeli Arrow anti-missile system and has lately been flirting with India in an attempt to get Delhi’s involvement. A special effort in this direction was made by suggesting an Indian liaison officer to be assigned to the U.S. Strategic Command, STRATCOM. The U.S. is aware of the potential of the Indian military system, as well as growing missile developments in India, and lately an announcement by the Indian air force commander that the country, dubbed as the largest democracy in the world, is now forming a space military command of their own.
A quick glance at the three major geographical components of the project shows that the Japanese contribution is aimed mainly at deterring North Korea and China, the Israeli and the European developments are aimed to deter Iran, while the overall system will, according to its planners, provide missile defense against all possible threats.
Of special interest are the Russian and Chinese reactions to the plan. While China continues to express concern about the nature of the project in the Far East, and is busy in rapid development of a Chinese initiative including the development of nuclear submarines, the Russian reaction is more unexpected. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, on the occasion of his fifth anniversary in office as the first civilian to hold the defense portfolio, stated Russia is not going to be drawn into a race with the U.S. initiative. He clearly described the mistakes of the Soviet Union’s attempt to outsmart the Reagan era Star Wars initiative, and said Russia will continue to downsize its overall military force while upgrading systems which will counter the U.S. project. He also stated Russia intends to change the balance of its military budget to 50 percent routine expenses and 50 percent for research and development.
These recent developments marking the juncture of the U.S. missile defense program in the first quarter of 2006, show that all of the countries involved will spend billions before 2010. The program is by now undoubtedly a substantiated fact and a significant part in the cycle of spending on military super hardware, developing counter measures and re-developing systems, a situation, which although dangerous, is oiling the wheels of industry and scientific research like never before in the history of military power.