Waiting for the Military's Missile Defense Review? Keep Waiting


The Pentagon was supposed to deliver to President Donald Trump what it called the Ballistic Missile Defense Review by the end of 2017. But here we are in late June 2018 and the spot for the report on Trump's Resolute Desk remains report-free -- and the Pentagon doesn't know when it'll be filled.

"There is no date for release right now," Pentagon spokesperson Johnny Michael told Code and Dagger today.

The review, announced in May 2017, is meant to "identify ways to strengthen missile-defense capabilities, re-balance homeland and theater defense priorities and provide the necessary policy and strategy framework for the nation's missile defense systems."

Related: How Putin's Nuclear Threat Echoes Cold War Strategy

The results can also help steer defense funding, determining in which military projects U.S. taxpayer money will be spent. As I reported today for RealClearLife, one potential project is the revival of President Ronald Reagan's starry-eyed but ultimately failed Star Wars space-based missile defense shield.

Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.), a former particle physicist, spoke on the House floor this week against that potential funding, warning that billions of dollars could be wasted on a project that didn't work in the 1980s and wouldn't work today. Most lawmakers disagreed, however, and the potential funding remained in this year's defense appropriations bill, subject to the Missile Defense Review's findings.

Read: Another Star Wars Folly? Lawmaker Says 'We've Been Here Before' (RealClearLife)

As for what the review will say about space-based missile interceptors or any number of ground-based systems, it's anyone's guess. An analysis by the Brookings Institution said that so far, the Trump administration's big-ticket defense project strategies have been "largely consistent with those of the previous administration and have generally enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress."

"However, it is an open question whether the upcoming MDR [Missile Defense Review] will continue that consensus, especially with regards to the role missile defense should play in addressing the threat from Russia and China; and the decision to move forward with space-based interceptors capabilities," the analysis says. "How the MDR addresses these issues will have a significant impact on the current domestic political consensus in favor of missile defense within the United States, strategic stability with Russia and China, and the United States’ relations with its allies."

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