US to transfer operational control of some Aegis ships to NATO for missile defense

Frank A. Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, July 13, 2010

From Frank A. Rose, Department of State:  In order to augment the defense of the United States against a future long-range threat and provide more comprehensive and more rapid protection to our deployed forces and European Allies against the current threat , President Obama outlined a four-phase approach for European missile defense called the European Phased Adaptive Approach or EPAA. Through the EPAA, the United States will deploy increasingly capable BMD assets to defend Europe against a ballistic missile threat from the Middle East that is increasing both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The EPAA is designed to protect our deployed forces and Allies in Europe, as well as improve protection of the U.S. homeland against potential ICBMs from the Middle East. As part of Phase 1, we have deployed to Turkey, a missile defense radar, referred to as the AN/TPY-2 radar. Also, as part of Phase 1, the United States deployed a BMD-capable Aegis ship to the Mediterranean Sea in March of 2011, and has maintained a BMD-capable ship presence in the region ever since.

Slightly more than a year ago, we concluded negotiations with Romania to host a U.S. land-based SM-3 BMD interceptor site, designed to extend missile defense protection to a greater portion of Europe. The land-based SM-3 system to be deployed to Romania is anticipated to become operational in the 2015 timeframe. We also reached an agreement with Poland to place a similar U.S. BMD interceptor site there in the 2018 timeframe, which will extend missile defense protection to all of NATO Europe. . . .

On May 20-21, the NATO Heads of State and Government met in Chicago for the NATO Summit and announced that NATO has achieved an interim BMD capability. This means that the Alliance has an operationally meaningful standing peacetime ballistic missile defense capability. NATO also agreed on the command and control procedures for ballistic missile defense, designated Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) as the commander for this mission, and demonstrated an interoperable command and control capability funded by all Allies. To support this interim BMD capability, the United States will offer EPAA assets to the Alliance as voluntary national contributions to the BMD mission, and will welcome contributions by other Allies. For example, President Obama announced in Chicago that he has directed the transfer of the AN/TPY-2 radar deployed in Turkey to NATO operational control. The EPAA also includes BMD-capable Aegis ships that can perform many roles besides BMD. If conditions warrant, we will transfer BMD-capable Aegis ships to NATO operational control.

These decisions have created a framework for Allies to contribute and optimize their own BMD assets for our collective defense, and the United States welcomes contributions from other Allies. Several NATO Allies possess land- and sea-based sensors that could be linked into the system, as well as lower tier systems that can be integrated and used to provide point defense. For example, the Netherlands has indicated that it will spend close to 250 million Euros to modify the radars on its frigates to detect and track ballistic missiles at long ranges and has indicated it will contribute its Patriot BMD systems to the NATO missile defense mission. . . .

Russia has raised the issue of wanting a legal guarantee with a set of “military-technical criteria” that could, in effect, create limitations on our ability to develop and deploy future missile defense systems against regional ballistic missile threats such as those presented by Iran and North Korea. We have made it clear that we cannot and will not accept limitations on our ability to defend ourselves, our allies, and our partners, including where we deploy our BMD-capable Aegis ships. These are multi-mission ships that are used for a variety of purposes around the world, not just for missile defense.

While we seek to develop ways to cooperate with Russia on missile defense, it is important to remember that under the terms of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO alone bears responsibility for defending the Alliance from the ballistic missile threat. This is why the United States and NATO cannot agree to Russia’s proposal for “sectoral” missile defense. Just as Russia must ensure the defense of Russian territory, NATO must ensure the defense of NATO territory. NATO cannot and will not outsource its Article 5 commitments.

Excerpts from remarks by Frank A. Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance at the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation in Vienna, Austria.  (photo: Dominique Nicolas/State Department)

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