Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And not a moment too soon...

U.S. to ramp up development of anti-missile program...

BMD Watch: U.S. speeds up THAAD deployment

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is speeding up the testing and fielding of its Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system to get it into service two years ahead of schedule.

Under the MDA's previous THAAD schedule, the missile defense capability would be deployable worldwide in fiscal year 2012, Army Col. Charles Driessnack, MDA's project manager told reporters in Huntsville, Ala. Aug. 16 at the Army's annual Space and Missile Defense conference, InsideDefense.com News Stand reported Aug. 24.

However, when combatant commanders began "screaming" that they wanted to get the capability to the field as quickly as possible, the agency formulated a plan to run testing activities concurrently, to shave two years off the program -- placing the system in the field at the end of FY-09 or in early FY-10, Driessnack said.

As previously planned, the agency will purchase two THAAD fire units -- the first to be delivered in FY-09 and the second coming the following fiscal year -- while developmental activities are ongoing, InsideDefense.com News Stand said.

Driessnack said buying this equipment early will give soldiers time to train on the system in preparation for the limited user test.

By running the testing and training activities in parallel, MDA officials have been able to cut two years from the testing program and more than $100 million, he added.

THAAD is a ground-based system designed to protect forward-deployed troops and population centers from short-range, medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It uses a hit-to-kill, kinetic-energy warhead to intercept missiles during their final phase of flight, either outside the atmosphere or very high up in the atmosphere, the report said.(read the rest)

And in other developments, the South Koreans are on course to take over their own defense...
U.S. President George W. Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun will meet in Washington on Sept. 14.

A South Korean government official speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Seoul newspaper Chosun Ilbo that Bush and Roh would subsequently issue a joint statement including an agreement on South Korea eventually exercising sole wartime control of its troops.

Chosun Ilbo reported Aug. 25 that the two presidents would also take the opportunity to comment on the "continuing strength" of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

Another South Korean government official, speaking anonymously, told the newspaper that since Bush had agreed to the idea of ceding wartime military control, "there is a strong possibility that the two will confirm the principles" for the handover ahead of the Security Consultative Meeting that will produce a "road map" in Washington the following month.

Under the terms of the agreement the South Korean government will gain autonomy, while the Bush administration will be able to continue its global troop realignment, "strategic flexibility" allowing troops currently deployed in South Korea to be shifted elsewhere.
Rather than the "re-deployment" plan (Okinawa, anyone?) advocated by John Murtha, where troops will be taken from where they are needed to where they aren't, this plan actually calls for redeployment from where they aren't needed to where they are.