Trump Unveils Plan to Defend U.S. Against Missile Threats

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump at the Pentagon on Thursday unveiled the administration’s Missile Defense Review, a blueprint that will guide the nation’s missile defense policies, strategies, and capabilities for the next decade.

“Our goal is simple: to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States — anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” he said. “As we all know, the best way to keep America safe is to keep America strong. And that’s what we’re doing. Stronger than ever.”

He said foreign adversaries, competitors, and rogue regimes are steadily enhancing their missile arsenals, increasing their lethal strike capabilities and focusing on developing long-range missiles that can reach targets within the U.S.

“As President, my first duty is the defense of our country. First duty: the defense of our country,” he said. “I will accept nothing less for our nation than the most effective, cutting-edge missile defense systems. We have the best anywhere in the world. It’s not even close.”

He said the new plan calls for six major changes in missile defense policy.

First, it calls for 20 new ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and new radars and sensors to immediately detect foreign missiles launched at the U.S.

“We are committed to establishing a missile defense program that can shield every city in the United States. And we will never negotiate away our right to do this,” Trump said.

Second, the U.S. will focus on developing new technology versus investing more money into existing systems, he said.

“The United States cannot simply build more of the same, or make only incremental improvements,” he said.

“It is not enough to merely keep pace with our adversaries; we must outpace them at every single turn. We must pursue the advanced technology and research to guarantee that the United States is always several steps ahead of those who would do us harm.”

Third, the U.S. will “adjust its posture” to defend against “any” missile strikes, including cruise missiles and hypersonic missiles.

“In the past, the United States lacked a comprehensive strategy for missile defense that extended beyond ballistic missiles,” he said. “Under our plan, that will change.”

Fourth, the U.S. will recognize space as a new warfighting domain, with a “Space Force” leading the way, he said.

He said the upcoming 2020 budget will invest in a space-based missile defense layer.

“Regardless of the missile type or the geographic origins of the attack, we will ensure that enemy missiles find no sanctuary on Earth or in the skies above,” he said.

Fifth, the U.S. will remove bureaucratic obstacles to “dramatically speed up the acquisition and deployment of the new technology,” he said.

Lastly, he said, the U.S. will insist on “fair burden sharing” with allies.

“So — wealthy, wealthy countries that we’re protecting are all under notice and all cooperating very nicely,” he said.

“We’re going to be with NATO 100 percent. But as I told the countries, ‘You have to step up.’ You have to pay minimum numbers, actually,” he said. “So we have very good relationships, but countries are now stepping up, and they can well afford to.”

He said the new plan directs the Pentagon to prioritize the sale of American missile defense and technology to allies and partners.

“We want them to be able to defend. And they’re willing to pay for the finest missiles in the world. They’ve already done that. They’re stepping up like nobody has ever seen before, actually,” he said.

He said the U.S. would also leverage our network of partnerships to share early warning and tracking information and detect missile launches as early as possible. He said:

Today marks the beginning of a new era in our missile defense program. For too long, we have been held back by self-imposed limits while foreign competitors grow and they advance more than we have over the years. Part of the reason is we spend so much money on so many other places. Now that’s changing. We’re helping and we’re able to spend money on technology and new defense, and far beyond defense systems. So those days are history.

“When it comes to defending America, we will not take any chances. We will only take action,” he said.

“Today, we reaffirm that a strong America remains the best way to prevent conflict, promote peace, preserve freedom, and protect our great people. Together, we unite behind a noble mission: to shield our country with the greatest missile defense systems anywhere on the face of the Earth.”

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