WASHINGTON: Missile defense is notoriously technically challenging, but sometimes the biggest problem isn’t tech, but trust.
Even the most advanced systems can’t stop Iranian or North Korean missiles if America’s allies can’t cooperate to integrate those systems into a regional defense, because ballistic missiles can move too fast and far for a single country to catch. Nor is America a perfect partner: If the US can’t relax its restrictions on sharing technology, those advanced systems may never be deployed. Those were the recurring themes at yesterday’s missile defense conference hosted here by the Atlantic Council.
Keynoting the conference was no less a figure than Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Just by showing up, the nation’s Nr. 2 military officer highlighted the priority the Pentagon puts on missile defense. In his remarks he repeatedly emphasized the importance of cooperation with allies and partners. Besides reiterating America’s “iron-clad” commitment to the European Phased Adaptive Approach — designed to stop a handful of Iranian missiles, not hundreds of Russian ones — the admiral also put in good words for Japan, South Korea, Israel, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.