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Arms Control and International Security: A U.S. State Department Perspective on the Phased Adaptive Approach to Missile Defense

Frank A. Rose
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Remarks to the Middle East Missile & Air Defense Symposium
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
April 12, 2012

As delivered

Thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to come to the United Arab Emirates to give remarks at this distinguished gathering of missile and air defense experts.

At the State Department, I am responsible for overseeing a wide range of defense policy issues, including missile defense. In that capacity, it was my responsibility to negotiate the details of the missile defense agreements with Poland, Romania and Turkey that will enable the United States to implement the missile defense plan for Europe that President Obama announced in September 2009 as a contribution to NATO missile defense. I will touch more on this later in my presentation, but suffice to say that I have been focused over the last couple of years on ensuring that we are able to meet the vision the President laid out in his 2009 announcement.

In my presentation today, I’d like to do two things. First, I would like to discuss some of the thinking behind the administration’s missile defense policy. Second, I’ll discuss how we are implementing that policy around the world.

Missile Defense Policy

Missile defense plays an important role in the broader U.S. international security strategy, supporting both deterrence and diplomacy. Missile defense assures our allies and partners that the United States has the will and the means to deter and, if necessary, defeat a limited ballistic missile attack against the U.S. homeland, our forward deployed troops, allies, and partners. Missile defense also may help constrain regional actors from trying to inhibit or disrupt the U.S. ability to come to the defense or assistance of its allies and partners.

The Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR), released in February 2010, set out a new policy framework and committed the United States to pursue a phased adaptive approach (PAA) to missile defense within particular regions. The BMDR set out in detail the first regional application—in Europe. Much more recently, the President and Secretary of Defense announced in January of this year the U.S. Priorities for 21st Century Defense. This document provides strategic guidance to re-balance our efforts to emphasize the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. It states, “U.S. policy will emphasize Gulf security, in collaboration with Gulf Cooperation Council countries when appropriate …” and also notes that “… Of particular concern are the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).”

In its assessment of the threat, the BMDR noted that the threat from short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles to our deployed forces, allies, and partners is growing, and this threat is likely to increase in both quantity and quality in the coming years. Many states are increasing their inventories, and making their ballistic missiles more accurate, reliable, mobile, and survivable. Trends in ballistic missiles show increased ranges, more advanced propellant systems, better protection from pre-launch attack, and the ability to counter BMD systems. The proliferation of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries in the region remains a source of concern as it could accelerate the development of more sophisticated systems.

Recognizing the seriousness of the ballistic missile threat, the United States seeks to create an environment, based on strong cooperation with allies and partners, which will eliminate an adversary’s confidence in the effectiveness of missile attacks and thereby devalue and provide a disincentive for the development, acquisition, deployment, and use of ballistic missiles. To that end, President Obama has made international cooperation on missile defense a key priority.

Recognizing that each region has unique deterrence and defense requirements due to differences in geography, history, and relationships, the United States is pursuing a region-by-region approach based on the following three principles:

  • First, the United States will deter adversaries through strong regional deterrence architectures built upon solid cooperative relationships with an eye toward efficiently incorporating assets and structures that our partners already have today or are seeking.
  • Second, the United States will pursue a Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) within key regions that is tailored to the threats unique to that region, including the scale, scope, and pace of their development, and the capabilities available and most suited for deployment. This approach means we will phase in and implement the best available technology to meet existing and evolving threats, and adapt to situations that evolve in an unforeseen manner.
  • Third, in order to meet a global demand for missile defense assets that will continue to exceed supply, the United States will develop mobile capabilities that can be relocated to adapt to a changing threat, or provide surge defense capabilities where they are most needed.

Missile defense is an integral part of a comprehensive U.S. effort to strengthen regional deterrence architectures. As I mentioned, this plays a central role in the new strategic guidance the Department of Defense released in January 2012.


Let me now discuss our efforts in Europe, which have received a great deal of attention. In order to augment the defense of the United States and provide more comprehensive and more rapid BMD protection to our European Allies and U.S. deployed forces, in 2009 President Obama outlined a four-phase implementation plan for European defense. Through the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), the United States will deploy increasingly capable BMD assets to defend European population and territory against a ballistic missile threat from outside the Euro-Atlantic area that is increasing both quantitatively and qualitatively. At the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon Allies welcomed the EPAA as the U.S. contribution to the NATO missile defense capability.

Our NATO Allies also have systems that they can contribute to the collective defense. Some of our Allies, for example, have Aegis ships with advanced sensor capabilities that could provide valuable contributions even without SM-3 interceptors. Our Allies also possess other land- and sea-based sensors that could be linked into the system, as well as lower tier systems, such as PATRIOT, that can be integrated and used to provide point defense.

EPAA Phase 1 gained its first operational elements in 2011 with the start of a sustained deployment of an Aegis BMD-capable multi-role ship to the Mediterranean. The deployment of an AN/TPY-2 missile defense radar in Turkey was the other key part of EPAA Phase 1.

For Phase 2 of the EPAA, we have an agreement with Romania to host a U.S. land-based SM-3 interceptor site beginning in the 2015 timeframe. This site would provide protection against medium-range ballistic missiles launched from the Middle East.

We also have an agreement with Poland to place a similar U.S. SM-3 interceptor site there in the 2018 timeframe for Phase 3 of the EPAA.

Finally, with respect to Phase 4, the Department of Defense has begun concept development of a more advanced interceptor for deployment in the 2020 timeframe that will enhance our ability to counter medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and potential future ICBM threats to the United States from the Middle East.


An update on missile defense should also include a mention of our efforts to pursue cooperation with Russia. Missile defense cooperation with Russia is a Presidential priority, and we believe it is in everyone’s interest. When President Obama announced his new vision for missile defense in Europe in September 2009, he stated that “we welcome Russia’s cooperation to bring its missile defense capabilities into a broader defense of our common strategic interests.” Missile defense cooperation with Russia will not only strengthen our bilateral and NATO-Russia relationships, but could enhance NATO’s missile defense capabilities. Successful missile defense cooperation would provide concrete benefits to Russia, our NATO Allies, and the United States and will strengthen - not weaken – strategic stability over the long term.

This means getting Russia inside the missile defense tent now, working alongside the United States and NATO, while we are in the early stages of our efforts. This way Russia will be able to see NATO missile defense with its own eyes. Close cooperation with the United States and NATO by Russia is the best and most enduring way for it to gain the assurance that European missile defenses do not undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent. Through this cooperation, Russia would see firsthand that this system is designed for the threat from outside the Euro-Atlantic area, and that NATO missile defense systems will not threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear capabilities. This cooperation is essential to convince Russia that the NATO system does not undermine Russian strategic deterrence. Cooperation will also allow Russia to see that the EPAA is designed to be flexible. Should the ballistic missile threat from nations like Iran change, increasing or decreasing, our missile defense system can be adapted accordingly.

Russia has raised the issue of 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. We certainly cannot accept limitations on our ability to defend ourselves, our allies, and our partners, including where we deploy our Aegis ships. These are multi-mission ships that are used for a variety of purposes around the world, not just for missile defense. We also will NOT accept limitations on the capabilities, and numbers of our missile defense systems. We would be willing to agree to a political framework including a statement that our missile defenses are not directed at Russia. In fact, this is what we have been saying all along: any statement will be politically binding and it would publicly proclaim our intent to cooperate and chart the direction for cooperation, not limitations. Our cooperation with Russia will not come at the expense of our plans to defend against regional ballistic missile threats or for the defense of the U.S. homeland.


In the Asia-Pacific region, the United States is committed to working with our allies and partners to strengthen stability and security in the region.

Japan is one of our closest allies, a leader in missile defense within the region, and one of the United States’ closest BMD partners. The United States and Japan have made significant strides in interoperability. The United States and Japan regularly train together, and our forces have successfully executed cooperative BMD operations. Japan has acquired a layered integrated BMD system that includes Aegis BMD ships with Standard Missile 3 interceptors, Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) fire units, early warning radars, and a command and control system. We also worked cooperatively to deploy a forward-based X-band radar in Japan. One of our most significant cooperative efforts is the co-development of a next-generation SM-3 interceptor, called the Block IIA. This co-development program represents not only an area of significant technical cooperation but also the basis for enhanced operational cooperation to strengthen regional security.

The Republic of Korea (ROK) is also a key U.S. ally and, recognizing the North Korean missile threat, the United States stands ready to work with the ROK to strengthen its BMD capabilities. We are working together to define possible future ROK BMD requirements and the United States looks forward to taking further steps to build upon this ongoing missile defense cooperation.

Australia signed a BMD Framework MOU with the U.S. in July 2004, making it one of the first U.S. partners on BMD. Australia has been a strong supporter of bilateral technology cooperation with the United States and the Nimble Titan series of multilateral missile defense wargames. We continue to consult with Australia bilaterally regarding missile defense cooperation. Similar to some of our Allies in Europe, Australia has a class of surface combatants – the Air Warfare Destroyer – that uses the Aegis Combat System that could be upgraded in the future to provide a missile defense capability.

The Middle East

I am sure that today’s audience is most interested in our missile defense cooperation in the Middle East. In this region, the United States has had a continuous missile defense presence and seeks to strengthen cooperation with its partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The importance of this issue was demonstrated by the prominence it received by Secretary Clinton and her GCC counterparts in the first ministerial meeting of the U.S.-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum in Riyadh on March 31 of this year. A number of states in the region already deploy PATRIOT batteries and are exploring purchases of some missile defense capabilities under the auspices of the foreign military sales (FMS) program.

The UAE continues to be a leader in the field of ballistic missile defense. On December 25, 2011, the UAE became the first international partner to purchase the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or “THAAD,” system from the United States. This robust area defense capability, in conjunction with the acquisition of PAC-3 point defense systems, will provide the UAE with a layered missile defense capability, ensure interoperability with United States forces, and contribute to regional stability. These purchases highlight the strong ties and common strategic interests between the United States and the UAE.

As our partners acquire greater missile defense capabilities, the United States will work to promote interoperability and information sharing among the GCC states. This will allow for more efficient missile defenses and could lead to greater security cooperation in the region. As Secretary of State Clinton said in Riyadh at the GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum, “we believe strongly that, in addition to the bilateral military cooperation between the United States and every member nation of the GCC, we can do even more to defend the Gulf through cooperation on ballistic missile defense.”

In sync with our BMD cooperation goals, we’re also working hard to prevent missile proliferation. The U.S. actively participates in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which serves as the global standard for controlling the transfer of equipment, software, and technology that could make a contribution to the development of WMD-capable missile and unmanned aerial vehicle delivery systems. We are also working through the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and other counter-proliferation activities to help partners improve their ability to stop shipments of proliferation concern. These are just some of our ongoing efforts to tackle the missile threat and prevent missile proliferation. While much of this work is performed quietly, the impact of all of these efforts is of crucial importance to international peace and security.


While the title “Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense” is perhaps a new conceptual way of thinking about our efforts in Asia and the Middle East, our partnerships in missile and air defense are certainly not new. Our cooperation here in the Middle East has been strong, and continues to be dynamic and productive. As we continue to strengthen cooperation here, we know there is a strong foundation to build on. We welcome your thoughts on how this can all be done in a regional context that bolsters regional stability. We believe that better insights into each other’s operational concepts and the possibility of greater interoperability are a few of the key elements of this endeavor.

The January 2012 “Priorities for the 21st Century Defense” make it clear that we will be rebalancing our efforts to emphasize the Middle East. Over the coming months, I would hope that we will be able to offer more details on those efforts, particularly as they apply to ballistic missile defense.

The increasing threat associated with the proliferation of ballistic missiles reinforces the importance of continuing and strengthening our collaborative missile defense efforts. However, beyond bilateral cooperation, we need to develop regional missile defense architectures that will enable us to leverage our bilateral cooperation so that nations share BMD-related information and capabilities on a multilateral basis. While we think about what a phased adaptive approach would look like in the Middle East, we recognize that each region has unique factors that will likely shape our approach in ways that are different from our approach in other regions. Each region has unique threats, capabilities, history, and geography. Our allies and partners in the Middle East have their own BMD assets, their own ways of integrating them into their defense structures and each of our efforts brings different advantages to the missile defense table. We need to work together to determine how we can fully leverage those advantages to protect ourselves.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to your questions.