The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review is in the final stages of pre-release, sources tell Defense News, after more than a year of release delays.
The review, a congressionally mandated document looking at the status of America’s missile defense capabilities, could be unveiled as soon as the next week, although it has yet to be briefed to Congress, sources say. And while there appears to be significant momentum to actually releasing the document soon, the release has seemed imminent in the past, only to be pulled back at the last minute.
The document has been the focus of intense speculation from both the missile defense and nonproliferation communities, with a wide expectation that the document will call for investments in new missile defense technologies and, potentially, a notable change in America’s missile defense posture toward Russia and China.
For years, America has maintained that missile defense systems capable of defeating major strategic systems are being designed and deployed not at another great power, but only at rogue actors — chiefly Iran and North Korea — who might seek to strike at the U.S. or its allies.
The National Security Strategy — the overall security guidance released by the Trump administration in late 2017 — underlines this thinking, stating that “the United States is deploying a layered missile defense system focused on North Korea and Iran to defend our homeland against missile attacks. This system will include the ability to defeat missile threats prior to launch. Enhanced missile defense is not intended to undermine strategic stability or disrupt longstanding strategic relationships with Russia or China.”
But analysts, such as Thomas Karako of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, have argued that in an era of great power competition, as illustrated in the National Defense Strategy, it’s foolish to lack a plan for defending American assets and allies against China and Russia.