Transcript: Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. at Global Missile Defense Conference
ADMIRAL JAMES A. WINNEFELD, JR.: Thank you Ellen for that kind introduction . . . it's really great to see you again.
And it's a real privilege to kick off this annual global missile defense conference . . . it looks like you have a terrific range of speakers and topics . . .
. . . and a wonderfully diverse audience of partners from industry and academia, as well as experts from think tanks, congressional staffers, and friends from the diplomatic corps.
And I know there are a few old friends of mine . . . very knowledgeable friends . . . mixed in among the crowd to boot.
I appreciate the opportunity today to talk a little bit about how I think about missile defense and what I think we're up to.
And before talking specifically about missile defense, I'd like to begin by setting a strategic baseline.
Since everything we do should be derived strategically, Chairman Dempsey and I tend to look at strategy as linking and balancing ends, ways, and means and resultant risk.
Ultimately, we believe that at the end of the day the ends of our strategy are fundamentally about protecting our national security interests . . .
. . . and that we ought to clearly understand what those interests are, and that some are more important than others.
Not only does this enable us to offer advice on when and how to use force
. . . we can link those interests to our advice on how to allocate the ever- decreasing means we're being provided by the Congress.
And in between the ends and the means lies the fertile ground of "ways" .
. . how we go about getting it all done.
The more creative and resourceful we are in crafting those ways, and the more we are tough on ourselves in how we manage our resources, the better we can preserve our ends with fewer means.
One of our most important ways is deterrence, which really comes in two forms: showing an adversary we can deny his objectives (in other words, his attack will fail), and alternatively, that we can and will impose unacceptable costs on that adversary if he is foolish enough to actually attack.
Every bit of this applies to missile defense.
If we consider that at the top of our list of national security interests is probably the survival of our nation, then at the top of the list of threats to that interest is a massive nuclear attack from Russia.
Because we prefer to use the deterrent of missile defense in situations where it has the highest possibility of being most productive . . .
. . . we've told Russia and the world that we will not rely on missile defense for strategic deterrence, because it would simply be too hard and too expensive and too strategically destabilizing to even try.
Even though Russians have a hard time believing us on this, it has the very great virtue of actually being true.
Rather, we rely for deterrence of Russia on our ability to respond massively to an attack, and that has worked for a very long time. But we do have other interests, where what we call "limited missile defense" quickly comes sharply into focus as being very relevant,
beginning with our determination to prevent catastrophic attacks on our nation.
This is about ensuring we can deny the objectives of any insecure authoritarian state that believes acquisition of deliverable weapons of mass destruction is key to the preservation of its regime.
The number of states trying to achieve that capability is growing, not shrinking . . . with our principal current concern being North Korea, because they are closest in terms of capability, followed by Iran.
Because we're not betting on Dennis Rodman as our deterrent against a future North Korean ICBM threat . . .
. . . a robust and capable missile defense is our best bet to defend the United States from such an attack; and is, in my view, our number one missile defense priority.
Which is why the systems that provide this defense, such as our Ground Based Interceptor program, or GBI, are accorded much higher priority than other items in our shrinking missile defense budget.
But we do have other global national security interests, including strong support for our allies and partners, as well as protecting American citizens around the world, including our own troops, wherever they may be present.
Thus, we also place a good bit of emphasis on regional missile defense, closely cooperating with a number of key partners in this area.
But in a world of declining budgets, it's likely we'll come to rely more on those partners to resource the means for their defense, as we work closely together on the ways.
And we're doing just that.
So let me spend a little more time talking a bit more about each of these two interest-based priorities, defense of the homeland and regional defense.
Regarding the homeland . . . the fact of the matter is that Iranian and North Korean space launch and other activities include multistage systems that can feed development of ballistic missile technology for longer-range systems, including ICBMs.
We have to take that threat seriously, even though neither nation yet has a mature capability, and both nations know they would face an overwhelming U.S. response to any attack.
While we would obviously prefer to take a threat missile out while it's still on the ground, left-of-launch, we won't always have the luxury of doing so.
And because it's our policy to stay ahead of the threat, we don't want there to be any doubt about our commitment to having solid right-of- launch capability.
So the latter piece boils down to how many missiles we can knock down versus how many the threat can launch.
And that is much more than just a function of simply how many interceptors we have in the ground.
It's also a function of how good those interceptors are in terms of capability and reliability.
We in the military often say "quantity has a quality all its own."
Well, in the missile defense world, quality has a quantity all its own, and the leverage can be enormous.
If, for example, because of system improvements, we only have to shoot half the number of interceptors per incoming warhead, then we can handle twice the number of inbound warheads.
That's why we're taking a lot of time and effort to improve the capability and reliability of our GBIs.
In the wake of the last Capability Enhancement II shot we took against a target, which flew perfectly until I watched it fail in the last couple of
seconds, the Missile Defense Agency has done a terrific job diagnosing what happened.
As a former F-14 pilot, I know that when something is not working, you wring out the whole system.
You don't stop at the first thing you find wrong, and you don't stop at the first possible fix to anything you find wrong.
MDA has done exactly that. They've taken their time. They've done it right.
Last year they launched an improved CE II interceptor, not against an actual target, because that wasn't the point of the test, but simply to put it through its paces to ensure they had solved the problem.
It performed magnificently.
Our next shot, this time against a target is coming soon, and we're doing everything we can to make it a success.
If it is a success, candidly, it will be a very good shot in the arm for the program, and we will resume production on 14 more "in progress" missiles in keeping with our fly-before-buy philosophy.
We fully intend to put those interceptors into the ground by the end of 2017 in order to increase our capacity to stay ahead of the threat.
As we announced last year with the extra 14 GBIs we will have 44 interceptors in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
But it's not just about our interceptors.
I would put my next nickel in sensors, because having enough -- and good enough -- sensors that can detect and discriminate a threat coming over the horizon . . . can save a lot of waste in terms of how many interceptors we send up to knock one down.
We have a lot going on in this area.
Thanks to our Japanese partners, we're deploying an additional TPY-2 radar to that nation by the end of 2014 to both improve our homeland and regional defense capabilities.
We're also continuing to operate SBX as needed in the Pacific to provide discrimination capabilities for CONUS and Hawaii defense.
And pending congressional support of the FY15 President's budget request, we're planning to deploy a new, long-range discriminating radar for the Pacific region by the 2020 timeframe.
Additionally, we're continuing to pursue greater use of space, UAS based technologies, and increased integration of existing sensor capabilities across the Command and Control Battle Management System to significantly enhance our missile defense discrimination capabilities in the future.
Now, while your sessions today are primarily about ballistic missile defense, I don't want to overlook cruise missile defense, particularly as it regards the homeland.
You might ask, if we choose to not invest the enormous resources required to defend against a massive Russian ICBM attack coming over
the North Pole, then why would we care about cruise missile defense in the homeland?
Well, the element of surprise is nearly impossible with an ICBM attack, and we have time to react. We can't necessarily say the same for a cruise missile attack.
So we're also devoting a good deal of attention to ensuring we're properly configured against such an attack on the homeland, and we need to continue to do so.
Turning to regional missile defense, there has been a massive proliferation in recent years of regional ballistic missile threats, including an increase of more than 1,200 missiles over the past five years.
There are almost 6,000 known ballistic missiles in the world, and that's not counting Russia and China.
Within this proliferation, we see a number of technical advancements . . . including advanced liquid- and solid-propellant propulsion technologies, and missiles that are becoming are becoming more mobile, reliable, accurate, and capable of striking targets over longer distances.
Some can target ships at sea.
Many have shorter launch-preparation times and smaller footprints that are making them more survivable.
Technical and operational measures to defeat missile defenses also are increasing.
For example, several nations exercise near simultaneous salvo firings of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles from multiple locations to saturate regional missile defenses.
Against all this, not only have we brought our own missile defense capability to bear, in which we have deployed some kind of missile defense system in 10 different countries . . .
. . . and have 30 AEGIS ships capable of doing the missile defense mission, a number of which are on any given station at any given moment . . .
. . . we're encouraging our allies and partners to acquire their own missile defenses and to strengthen regional missile defense cooperation that will result in better performance than individual countries acting alone.
For example, in the Middle East . . .
The United States is working with a number of our Gulf Cooperation Council partners on missile defense, including supporting purchases through Foreign Military Sales.
The UAE is procuring THAAD, with the first delivery expected next year .
. . this in addition to its earlier purchase of Patriot systems.
And Saudi Arabia is in the process of upgrading its existing Patriot PAC- 2 batteries to the PAC-3 configuration.
Kuwait is also purchasing Patriot PAC-3 batteries.
The United States also maintains a strong defense relationship with Israel, and our cooperation on missile defense has resulted in a comprehensive missile defense architecture.
Israeli programs, which the U.S. has supported, such as Iron Dome, the David's Sling Weapon System, and the Arrow Weapon System . . . in conjunction with operational cooperation with the United States . . . create a multi-layered architecture designed to protect the Israeli people from varying types of missile threats.
In the Asia-Pacific . . .
We have a strong missile defense posture in the region, for both homeland and regional defense.
The cornerstone of our security and diplomacy has been our strong bilateral alliances with South Korea, Japan, and Australia.
Going forward, we will continue to emphasize the importance of developing regional ballistic missile defense systems.
This is a very politically sensitive topic for several of our regional allies, but progress in this area would only increase our confidence in the face of persistent North Korean provocations.
During last year's provocation cycle, it appeared that North Korea might conduct a test of a regional-capable ballistic missile that could potentially reach U.S. soil in Guam.
In response, as many of you are aware, the U.S. Army did a magnificent job deploying THAAD battery to that island.
There it remains, readily deployable if necessary to somewhere else in the world if needed, but in the meantime defending U.S. soil from potential threats.
And with the unpredictability of the North Korean regime, we may find ourselves doing more of this sort of thing in the future elsewhere in the region.
And in Europe . . .
Our commitment to NATO missile defense "remains ironclad" as demonstrated by our strong support for missile defense capabilities either already deployed or being developed for the European Phased Adaptive Approach—our contribution to NATO ballistic missile defense.
Here, I'd like to lay to rest a persistent misconception that, in shifting way from the original program to place ten two-stage GBIs in Europe, that somehow the United States walked away from European missile defense.
That's just not true.
My predecessor, General Jim Cartwright, realized that the ICBM threat from Iran was progressing more slowly, and the medium and intermediate range threat more rapidly, than we anticipated.
It made great sense at the time, and still does, to shift to the European Phased Adaptive Approach that is based on the SM-III missile and away from the GBI.
And that's what we're doing.
Rather than 10 missiles that have limited IRBM or MRBM capability, we will eventually have 48 missiles on the ground in Europe that can very capably counter the real regional threat.
This approach brought SM-3 interceptors into the European theater in 2011 aboard deployed ships.
We've broken ground on the first EPAA site in Romania, and it will be operational in December 2015.
Just one week ago, we had a very successful test shot in Hawaii that demonstrated the functionality of the shore based Aegis Weapon System by verifying its ability to launch, control, establish uplink/downlink communication, provide guidance commands, and provide target information to a Standard Missile-3 Block IB guided missile.
As of this year, the first of four BMD-capable ships to be stationed at Rota, USS DONALD COOK, has already deployed to Europe, and the USS ROSS will arrive this summer.
The final two ships, the USS CARNEY and USS PORTER, will arrive in 2015.
This program is on track, and our NATO Allies are also making significant contributions to the European missile defense mission through their purchase and deployment of BMD-capable systems and deployment in support of NATO missions.
And let me be clear once again, it is not the policy of the United States to build a ballistic missile defense system to counter Russian ballistic missiles.
The Aegis Ashore sites in Poland and Romania are designed to counter long-range ballistic missiles that may be launched from other nations, outside of the Euro-Atlantic area, against our European NATO partners. This system is designed to defeat a launch out of the Middle East from the South and not a launch from Russia in the East.
EPAA sites are not designed for and cannot counter Russian ICBMs or regional ballistic missiles . . .
. . . because Russia deploys too many missiles, which are too sophisticated for this system to handle . . . our sensors are not pointed in a direction, and the interceptors we intend to deploy at the Aegis Ashore sites will simply not have the velocity required to hit Russian ICBMs.
So let's lay that to rest.
The most helpful thing Russia—and China for that matter—can do is to persuade North Korea and Iran to drop their ballistic missile programs. We do not see that happening any time soon.
While we're on the topic of regional defense, though, I'd like to make the point that we need to keep our eyes on the cost curves.
The simple fact is that a THAAD, which costs around $11M, could find itself being launched against a Scud missile that costs only $3M.
This curve is working against us, and there are three things we can do about it.
First, we can keep the pressure on how much our own interceptors cost.
It would be helpful in this regard to be able to buy them in economic quantities, but this is proving hard to do under increased budget pressure.
Second, we can continue our emphasis on developing the technologies required to hit ballistic missiles and their launchers left of launch.
And finally, there is no shame in passive defense, such as denial, deception, mobility and hardening.
Our potential adversaries are doing these things, and there is no reason we cannot as well.
Finally, I'd like to address several other misconceptions that are out there regarding ballistic missile defense.
First, and most obvious, is the claim that our missile defense systems don't work, that we can't "hit-to-kill."
Well, we have an excellent track record with regional systems comprised of operationally configured Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptors and SM-3s.
As I mentioned, we're working through the GBI issues and expect to raise the probability of intercept.
But basically our test record using hit-to-kill has put this misconception to bed.
To date, for our operationally configured interceptors, not development prototypes mind you . . . THAAD is 11 for 11; Aegis BMD is 18 for 21; GMD is 3 for 6; and the Patriot PAC-3 is 21 for 25.
That's not bad, but we're determined to make it even better.
The second misconception is that it's easy for an adversary to employ ballistic missile defense countermeasures.
To be sure, we will continue to do everything we can in order to improve our discrimination capability, but as hard as that job is, so is the challenge of deploying and employing countermeasures.
If the enemy is confronting a layered defense system, whatever countermeasures work in midcourse might not work in terminal, or their terminal countermeasures may be destroyed in midcourse.
Test is critical to the success of any complex weapons system, and when it comes to missile defense countermeasures, our adversaries don't do much of it, which means they can't know how they perform.
We've had our own extensive countermeasures program, and we learned just how difficult it is to get that right.
Countermeasures take up payload space and have weight considerations, so there's also a tradeoff.
Bottom line . . . it's not as easy as it might look on paper.
And last is the narrative that missile defense needs to be 100-percent effective to be successful, especially when nuclear weapons are involved.
That is a simplistic argument. No system can achieve perfection. It would be hubris to believe otherwise.
So if deterrence does fail, we don't necessarily expect to stop every missile – though, to be sure, we will try.
Rather, the effective systems we have and are further developing are intended to deter an adversary by injecting considerable doubt into his mind regarding the effectiveness of his attack versus our likely response.
The enemy knows there will be a significant price to pay with a missile launch against the United States.
The worst of all worlds for the enemy is that his attack is not only not effective, but it evokes a nasty response from us. Again, the two pillars of deterrence.
So I believe our missile defense enterprise is on an upward trajectory, if you'll pardon the quip . . . very healthy at the regional level though on a tough cost curve . . . and coming back into health for defense of the homeland.
I give great credit for all of this to VADM Jim Syring and his able staff and his predecessors.
Shooting a bullet with a bullet is not an easy technical problem to solve. It's even harder when you're under time pressure, still harder when the assets are expensive and difficult to test, and even yet harder in a turbulent political environment and budget uncertainty.
Yet we continue to make progress.
Progress in our work with our international partners.
Progress in working with the warfighter to develop, test, and field a networked, global ballistic missile defense system that is flexible, survivable, and affordable . . . and
Progress in investing in promising technology programs to ensure the missile defense system will be capable of defeating the complex threats we expect to face in the future.
Recall what I said earlier about the "ways" of strategy, and how they can help preserve our ends when our means decline.
Well, the good news is that many of the ways we do business in the missile defense arena are ripe for innovation.
Liddell Hart said, "The only thing harder than getting a new idea into the military mind is getting an old one out."
We're going to have to work very hard to empower our people to do both. And that's General Dempsey's and my greatest concern across the board
. . . that we will not innovate quickly enough or deeply enough to be prepared for the world we will face over the next decade.
Innovation is the leadership opportunity for this generation of missile defense practitioners –– which is why your session this afternoon on "What's Next" promises to be so interesting.
As we all know, the advantage in warfare shifts between offense and defense over time.
So where will rail guns and directed energy and Big Data lead us in this realm?
And what about the interesting strategic questions that will arise if and when technology actually does advance to the point where it is both more possible and more economical to defend against ballistic missile attacks? In any case, one of our greatest advantages is our innovative spirit and an atmosphere that permits it . . . this advantage will enable us to better protect the American people, and to continue to stand by our allies and our friends around the world.
So I thank you all for your interest in missile defense. I hope this has been useful for you.
I'm interested in your questions, and particularly interested in your views and ideas.
Fred, shall we get at it?