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The Why, What and How of Missile Defense at NATO

"The Why, What, and How of Missile Defense at NATO"

 Robert G. Bell, Defense Advisor to NATO

AIAA MD Conference

March 21, 2011


Thank you, Nancy, for that kind introduction. 

Ambassador Daalder is sorry he can't be with you today.  But NATO perm reps are deep into operational planning issues relating to NATO'S assuming a role in enforcing UNSCR 1973 on Libya.

Before I begin, I want to take a moment to recognize Nancy Morgan for her indispensible contributions to NATO missile defense.  She is a key focal point for NATO's technical work on missile defense, and an accomplished diplomat in continually forging consensus positions among allies on key MD issues. 

Nancy chairs the NATO Missile Defense Planning Group as well as   the Steering Committee for NATO'S existing MD Program Office. 

These groups helped make the Lisbon Summit a success.  They are also helping to make NATO missile defense a reality today.

I would also like to say thank you to Lt General O'Reilly, AIAA, and all who make this event possible, including especially the sponsors, of course! 

As US Defense Advisor at NATO, I come to missile defense from a slightly different perspective than those of you who work inside the Beltway.

Specifically, I come to missile defense from the NATO perspective which means focusing on how the United States, together with its 27 Allies, moves forward with MD to advance the Alliance's security interests.  Fortunately, there is a great deal of convergence in this regard.

So, today, I'd like to cover a few areas where I think missile defense and NATO intersect. 

- First, the threat environment:  Why missile defense is so important.  And why our Allies agree that NATO needs missile defense.

- Second, the momentous decisions taken at NATO's Lisbon Summit.  And, more specifically, what President Obama and 27 other NATO Leaders agreed there. 

- And third, how we are moving forward with missile defense at NATO, and with Russia.

So, first, the threat.  Which is the reason we're building missile defense in the first place.

One thing is clear:  NATO confronts a security environment like no other in its history.

During the Cold War, the possibility of major conventional conflict in Europe - or even a nuclear one - kept us busy.  Now that possibility has virtually vanished.

After the Cold War, we focused on creating a more united, secure, and free Europe.  That agenda is not entirely finished.  But it's on track.

But, today, the forces of globalization are bringing new security challenges to NATO's doorstep.  

Among the most pressing threats is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction delivered by ballistic missiles.  This danger is real.  And it is growing. 

Ballistic missile systems are becoming more effective.  Their range is increasing.  And several states are pursuing nuclear, chemical, and/or biological warhead capabilities.  

As range increases, more of NATO's population and territory is placed at risk. 

That's why deterrence and diplomacy are important.  It's also why the United States and its Allies need a credible and cost-effective capability to defend against this threat.

The good news is that our Allies now agree with us, which wasn't always the case.

For years, missile defense was a divisive issue within the Alliance. 

No longer.  At our last NATO Summit, we showed that missile defense could be a unifying issue not only for the Alliance, but also for the NATO-Russia relationship.  And, with the ratification of the New START Treaty that quickly followed, we showed that missile defense and arms control could proceed hand-in-hand.

When President Obama met with fellow leaders of the Alliance last November, they recognized that NATO needed to think about missile defense and other 21st century security issues in a different way. 

The product of that new thinking was the new Strategic Concept, agreed at Lisbon.  A "Mission Statement" if you will, that specifically identifies the proliferation of ballistic missiles as a real and growing threat to the Allies.

I know that for all of you, the fact that countries like Iran and North Korea are pursuing WMD programs and ballistic missile technology that could threaten NATO populations and territory is nothing new - let alone contested. 

But over here, on this side of the Atlantic, there were still skeptics. 

That's one of the reasons the Lisbon Summit was so important. Because all NATO Allies agreed that missile defense is a shared threat that requires action.  For an organization that requires consensus to act - sort of like the US Senate with the filibuster rule - that is a big deal, as Les Aspin used to say, a really big deal.

At Lisbon, NATO's Leaders directed NATO to field the capability to protect all NATO European populations and territory from ballistic missiles.

Before Lisbon, NATO had been working on a capability to defend its deployed forces from ballistic missiles.  

But NATO didn't have the mandate to defend NATO's populations and territories from this threat, even though that seemed to make perfect sense.

Lisbon changed that. 

By 2020, nearly 900 million people, and 28 democracies, will be defended.

That is why it is such a big deal.

Of course, building NATO's missile defense capability will take time, money, and technical know-how. 

That's where my third element, implementation, comes in.

Which is also where many of you fit in. 

You are the folks who can tell us exactly how NATO can accomplish this task.

There are plenty of talented people at NATO working the MD issue but we can of course always use more help.

It is people exactly like you - the same community represented in the audience today - who can best help to turn these important political decisions into real-world capability.

Implementation of NATO's missile defense capability will be a long-term project.  And in my mind, that project has five parts. 

I'll cover each of these five pieces in turn.

First, implementation will start with expanding NATO's Command, Control and Communications capability.  Fortunately, NATO already has an existing program, Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense, or ALTBMD for short.  I was privileged to help NATO start this program several years ago, and it has come a long way since, thanks to talented professionals in the ALTBMD Program Office including its Director      Gen Alessandro Pera, and its Deputy Dave Kiefer.

ALTBMD provides the command, control backbone of the NATO systems.  It's currently geared toward integrating allies' sensors, interceptors and C2 systems for deployed forces. 

At Lisbon, NATO's leaders agreed to expand the scope of this program.  So task one of implementation is to expand ALTBMD to include NATO European populations, territory, and forces. 

I'm happy to report NATO's already making progress on this.

In Jan, ALTBMD demonstrated its  InCa at the NATO CAOC in Uedem, Germany. 

Just a few weeks ago, NATO's defense ministers, including Secretary Gates, agreed to an important report on NATO's consultation, command, and control arrangements, as advised by national and NATO military authorities.

Now that the report is agreed, it provides a baseline for the high-level consultations NATO would need to have during an unfolding crisis that required Missile Defenses.  In 2 weeks, NADs (inc. Ash Carter) will gather here in Brussels to review initial work on the MD Action Plan, which provides an overall game plan for delivering this capability.

So this takes me to task two of implementation.  We need to ensure ALTBMD remains a priority!

Lisbon helped here as well.  At the Summit, NATO's Leaders agreed to prioritize the expansion of ALTBMD as one of just 10 critical capabilities for the Alliance.

That HOS/G "mandate" means that among all of the capabilities for the world's premier military Alliance, C3 for missile defense is right at the top as programs compete for common funding at NATO.

That brings me to task three - align the U.S. allies and NATO MD programs.

This is where the U.S. European Phased Adaptive Approach, or EPAA, fits in. 

EPAA will be the United States' national contribution to NATO missile defense, including interceptors and sensors and its core C2BMC capability.  Our challenge is not only to keep EPAA on track, on budget and on schedule, but also to ensure NATO's part of this architecture stays in synch.

This takes me to task four - connect other national contributions into the effort.

Although the EPAA constitutes by far the lion's share of the planned NATO missile defense architecture, we'd very much like to see others make significant contributions too.

The range of such possible contributions - which is quite impressive - was recently laid out in a NIAG study co-chaired by two people you know well:  Bob Delinert and Bern Kreienbaum.

France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Poland, for example, have land or sea-based sensors that could link into ALTBMD.  Many of these Allies also have TMD lower-tier interceptors and there is no question that European industry is capable of producing upper-tier systems.  FR is also planning to plug in its Spirale EW/launch detection capabilities once it achieves its IOC.

Finally, other Allies could contribute territory, communications, and other resources that are needed for an effective system, as UK & DK have already pledged with regard to the  Fylingdales & Thule BMEWS radars, and Romania and Poland have done with regard to basing SM-3's on their soil.

Over time, it's our hope that national contributions from other Allies will expand as more nations develop capabilities relevant to missile defense.

For those of you in industry, this is a vision we would hope you to take back to your business suits and your board rooms and to represent to European Defense Ministries. 

We would like to see U.S. industry deepen and extend its already well-established cooperation with our European Allies on missile defense, including interceptors and sensors.

After all, 28 Allies have committed to NATO missile defense.  Many will want to expand their national capabilities as it develops, and are limited principally by resources.  But in this time of austerity scarce defense spending can best be extended through multinational solutions. 

MD is a real opportunity to bolster multinational cooperation with our most capable security partners.  

That takes me to the fifth task, the military dimension.

NATO will require, ideally as soon as the end of this year, a Concept of Operations that pulls all the operational aspects of missile defense into a cohesive whole, together with ROE, DAL and a NATO command and control structure to accomplish the mission.

These pieces are being worked by NATO's Military Committee and the National Military Authorities based on a proto type CONOPS developed in US and allied military officials working under the auspices of SHAPE.  We'll review their initial conclusions when Defense Ministers meet again in June.

Before I close, I want to update you about how NATO is moving forward on missile defense with Russia.  Russia is an important partner to NATO.

As Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov has said, "relations in the security area are undergoing radical transformation."

He described relations between NATO and Russia as "showing less and less signs of confrontation and more and more elements of cooperation."  Foreign Minister Lavrov also discussed how "areas of common interest are expanding."

One of those areas of common interest is missile defense.

In fact, one of the most significant outcomes of the Lisbon Summit is that NATO's leaders invited Russia to cooperate on missile defense. The next day, President Medvedev accepted this invitation. 

As part of that effort, all 28 Allies and Russia agreed that the NATO-Russia Council will resume missile defense cooperation.

This agreement came about, in part, because the Allies and Russia had worked together on a joint ballistic missile threat assessment.

The assessment is a significant achievement.  It shows that NATO and Russia share some common perspectives about the ballistic missile threat. 

The NATO-Russia Council is working to build on the spirit of Lisbon.  This Council provides a forum to discuss opportunities, and also to understand and resolve differences.

It's my hope that we would focus primarily on those opportunities to address shared security challenges.  After all, Russia faces the same ballistic missile threat as the rest of Europe.

The United States and NATO have their differences with Russia, to be certain.  But I'm convinced that missile defense between the Allies and Russia could flourish into a vibrant element of that important partnership. 

In fact, President Medvedev has charged his ambassador to NATO as his "special presidential envoy for cooperation with NATO on missile defense matters."

Ambassador Daalder and I meet with Ambassador Rogozin frequently, and we look forward to working with him on this effort.

At the same time, I want to be very clear on one point about missile defense cooperation -

As crystal clear as the President was when he talked with our Allies in Lisbon about this: 

NATO alone bears the responsibility for defending NATO's members. 

This obligation will not be abrogated; nor will it fall to anyone outside of NATO.

So as NATO's cooperation on missile defense moves forward, it will operate from the firm basis that NATO will defend NATO, and Russia will defend Russia. 

We, the United States, are convinced that by all 28 Allies and Russia cooperating together and developing cooperative MD approaches for areas where our respective MD capabilities overlap, both tasks would be more effective, and enable us to address mutual threats while retaining separate and independent control.

Let me close with a final bit of good news about missile defense.

As we speak, the first AEGIS cruiser to execute the EPAA mission in the European theater is underway.  Ambassador Daalder will take the entire NAC to visit the Monterey in Antwerp next week.

This is a milestone not only for the United States, but also for transatlantic relations. 

General O'Reilly, you and your organization should take great pride and a sense of accomplishment in this historic mission.

And, of course, the same thank you goes out to all of the civilian and military personnel who support missile defense at NATO. 

I'm sure many of them are in this room. 

Our security ties with our Allies are as deep and important as ever. 

Your work to advance missile defense at NATO means that our Allies will be safer and more secure. 

And it means that the United States is safer and more secure.

 Thank you for letting me stand in for Ambassador Daalder today.