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Hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee - Ballistic Missile Defense Programs in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2009 and the Future Years Defense Program


Location: Washington, DC


SEN. MARK PRYOR (D-AR): Thank you.

Has Senator Sessions already asked?

SEN. BILL NELSON: He's already -- and he's going to jump in whenever he wants to again.

SEN. PRYOR: Okay. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Senator Sessions as well. I appreciate you all's leadership on this.

Lieutenant General Campbell, let me start with you if I may. A follow-up on a question -- a line of questions that I heard Senator Nelson asking when I came into the room -- I'm sorry for being late -- about the THAAD System and the SM-3 system.

Let's see -- the original inventory objective for the THAAD program was 1,250 missiles. Our current inventory objective is less than 10 percent of that. As I understand it, the people who looked at it said that we need quite a bit more than what we have in our current inventory -- at least that's the concern.

Can you explain how force structure and inventory objectives are determined for these near-term theater systems, and how the process could be improved to ensure that our military has the capabilities they need to defend against existing threats?

GEN. CAMPBELL: Yes. Normally we do studies. We do modeling and analysis in wartime settings by theaters, taking a look at what the threat has and their order of battle; what blue forces have in their order of battle. And we look at all the forces. We look at offensive forces, defensive forces in combination and make a determination in what is required to defend critical assets within that particular theater.

In most cases, we're never going to get to the point where we'll have enough missiles to defend against every ballistic missile that an adversary is going to have. So therefore, we consider in these protocol offensive capabilities that could reduce their effectiveness. Other actions -- passive defense measures that a combatant commander could take -- perhaps moving critical facilities off of locations, further away from the shores of an adversary.

So then we arrive and have to make determinations on risk. Do we have a low risk situation, a moderate risk or a high-risk situation? Can we live with those risks, given the operations we expect to perform in that particular theater? And then that results in a number that then we'll pursue for a particular system.

SEN. PRYOR: Let me make sure I understand. Is the 1,250 original figure? Was that just picked out of thin air or had that --

GEN. CAMPBELL: I am not familiar with the analysis that supported the 1,250. I know that was back in the '90s, that particular study, but I'm not familiar with what scenarios they looked at. I'm more familiar with what the JCM has looked at. I'm familiar with those scenarios and I understand the numbers and how we arrived at those.

SEN. PRYOR: And do you take into consideration what the combatant commanders are saying in terms of their needs?

GEN. CAMPBELL: Absolutely.

SEN. PRYOR: Secretary Young, let me ask your thoughts on this: Is this process of determining how many -- in this case THAAD missiles -- but in determining how missiles we have, can we improve that process? And you know, does your office play a role in coming out with those numbers? Could you tell the subcommittee that, please?

MR. YOUNG: I think this is a good discussion for this Missile Defense Executive Board we talked about.

I would tell you the updated joint capability-MSIC study is a good starting point. As General Campbell rightly pointed out, we might not be able to address every threat. We may not need to, because we have other offensive strike capabilities that will hopefully take out some of the threats before they launch.

But I believe we will bring this discussion into an MD -- Missile Defense Executive Board to have the discussions. The nice thing or the benefits of having an MDA organization is we'll look across the full set of missile defense capability and trade THAAD, SM-3 and PAC-3 and do it effectively and get a joint capability instead of single- surface capability.

But we will be looking at this and we have a good starting point for the discussion with the new MSIC study.

SEN. PRYOR: Thank you.

General Obering, thank you again for your leadership on this and it's good to see you again.

Let me ask about the multiple kill vehicle program. As I understand it, we're trying to develop this MKV program. Could you give us just a quick status report on that?

GEN. OBERING: As I have stated and testified in the past: Today we have the ability to deal with simple countermeasures, and we've flown against those in our flight-test program in the past. When we get to very complex countermeasures, that gives us a problem -- so that's a limitation of our system. We're addressing that through a number of ways.

One is to be able to do what we call birth-to-death tracking of the targets suite. The second thing is to employ more advanced sensors and algorithms. And we've deployed the radar. Now we're going to be equipping those with the algorithms that will allow us to do the discrimination.

And the third piece of that is being able to equip each interceptor with more than a single kill vehicle so it can take out more than what we call "one credible object."

So we believe that's very important to meeting the intent that we've stated all along and has actually been part of the criticisms of missile defense that you can't handle complex counter measures. This is the way that we do that.

And so we have a plan that we've embarked upon to provide a volume kill or Multiple Kill Vehicle capability to our ground-base midcore interceptors, our kinetic energy interceptors as well, along with the sea-based interceptors, the SM-3 Block IIA because it will be large enough to be able to handle the volume kill capabilities.

SEN. PRYOR: And what impact does that have on Japan? As I understand it, they favor the single kill vehicle?

GEN. OBERING: There was -- well, first of all, we are not walking away from the single kill vehicle. We will have that as a compliment, and that is the baseline right now of the code of element with the Japanese. What we wanted to do was have a volume kill capability as a Block B of that and have the SM-3 Block IIA as the unitary kill vehicle and the Block IIB as the Multiple Kill Vehicle.

I have discussed this with our Japanese friends. Initially the Japanese were reluctant because they did not want to have anything that would perturb the baseline for the unitary kill vehicle. When we had further discussions with them and we assuaged those concerns, they actually sent a letter to me documenting that they were okay with the Multiple Kill Vehicle program and we think that we're on track with that.

SEN. PRYOR: And I assume that Japan -- we're counting on them playing a role with our missile defense system -- is that right?

GEN. OBERING: Yes, sir. They are our leading ally right now with respect to their own investments in missile defense. They are approaching about a $1.5 billion a year as I recall. They are not only procuring capabilities from us such as the Patriot 3, they're also co-developing their own capabilities like the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA I just talked about and expanding their sea-based capabilities and sensor networks as well. So we have a very strong and robust partnership with Japan.

SEN. PRYOR: Now -- and this is my last question, Mr. Chairman, but not to belabor the history on this next question -- but I know that in 2002 Secretary Rumsfeld exempted MDA from some requirements that you had and there was a concern that maybe the warfighters were not having their say in the process. And so there's a program that you initiated called WIP, Warfighter Involvement Program. How has that initiative worked? Are you seeing a positive change? Has it been successful?

GEN. OBERING: Yes, sir. And I'm glad -- thank you very much for that question.

There was a misconception when Secretary Rumsfeld exempted us from the operation requirements documents that we were walking away from warfighter requirements and we never did that. What we were trying to do was actually be able to accelerate to meet the warfighter desires and to be able to adapt to changes in the threat and to changes in those requirements. The requirements process that he exempted us from was a very tedious and laborious process that was difficult to change.

We went to a different model in which we do much more collaboration with the warfighter as we go through defining what the capabilities are that we'll be developing and fielding. And in fact the warfighter involvement process that you refer to is where STRATCOM under their unified command plan responsibilities as the arbitrator so to speak and proponent and advocate for missile defense works very closely with us. They gather up all of the combat commander's requirements via their innovated prioritized list and they -- when it comes to missile defense, they mail that into a listing for us. Then we work with them to tell them what we think is affordable, what we think is doable from a technical perspective and when we think we can deliver that.

But I would encourage you also to ask Commander STRATCOM, General Chilton about that. I think that they're pleased with that process. In fact, the last discussion I had with him, he actually wants to accelerate that even more than we've done in the past with respect to our Palm 10.

SEN. PRYOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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