Today’s guest for our “Ask the Experts” interview series is Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA). The group also has a blog, which covers the latest missile defense news.
Welcome to the 33-Minutes blog, Mr. Ellison. Tell us your about organization and what it does.
MDAA’s mission is to drive the political will through education and advocacy to make the world safer from the proliferation and threat of ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction to our nation, troops overseas and allies by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems.
We are a non-profit, non-partisan organization that is membership driven. I founded the organization after President G.W. Bush and Congress withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and made the decision to move forward on missile defenses in December 2002.
I have been passionately involved with Missile Defense since 1983, inspired by President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative speech and briefed by Dr. Edward Teller.
Why is missile defense important?
Because in the world we live in today the United States cannot deter states or third party actors from attacking or threatening others with nuclear weapons or WMD by relying solely on the mutually assured destruction through the retaliation of U.S. nuclear weapons.
Missile defense provides our President with other options to stabilize crisis regions like the Middle East or the Far East without the American and Allied bloodshed that would come with preemptive military action. Having missile defense allows our allies to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities if a neighboring state or third actor does. Japan and South Korea’s reaction to North Korea’s nuclear status are working examples of this.
Do you believe the Obama administration is moving the U.S. in the right direction?
They have made broad policy statements in support of missile defense as stated by the Secretary of Defense in the Ballistic Missile Defense Review released March 1, 2010. However, actions speak louder than words. The 2010 and 2011 defense budgets for missile defense are less than President George W. Bush’s and the threat and proliferation of ballistic missiles has risen during the same time. There are concerns about adequate protection of the U.S. homeland with the reduction of defensive long range Interceptors from 44 to 30. The acceptance of the high risk of protection of the east coast of the U.S. without a multiple shots as the rest of the nation has is a great concern. What exactly is the plan of deployment of the Presidents vision for missile defense and how much will it cost to defend our allies.
What else do readers need to know about this issue?
Two key points:
First, there should be no connection to missile defense in the upcoming START treaty to reduce strategic arms with Russia. Giving up missile defense protection of the U.S., Europe or any place we have troops and allies, in exchange for a reduction of arms with Russia is unfair, unsafe and would leave us defenseless against the current threats from Iran and North Korea as well as other future threats.
Second, the cut in funds and programming for the Airborne Laser by the current administration is not in the best interest of our national security. This system demonstrated two laser shoot downs, at the speed of light, on two boosting ballistic missiles this year. This was a revolutionary achievement by a system that should continue to be developed and eventually deployed. It is the only system that has been proven to destroy missiles in their boost phase. It is a game changer for the United States.
Dr. Steven Metz