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Fact Sheet: Implementing Missile Defense in Europe

September 15, 2011

"To put it simply, our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America's Allies. It is more comprehensive than the previous program; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost-effective; and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats; and it ensures and enhances the protection of all our NATO Allies."

– President Obama, September 17, 2009

President Obama is committed to protecting the United States, U.S. deployed forces, our European Allies and partners against the growing threat of ballistic missiles. In September 2009, on the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President announced the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for missile defense to provide that protection sooner and more comprehensively. Over the past two years, working together with our NATO Allies, the Administration has achieved significant progress in implementing that approach, and we are on a path to achieve the milestones the President outlined.

Since the announcement of EPAA, the Administration has made clear its desire to implement EPAA in a NATO context. At the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, NATO made the historic decision to endorse a missile defense capability whose aim is to provide full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory, and forces against the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles. This decision is consistent with our efforts to broaden and strengthen NATO's deterrence posture against the range of 21st century threats the Alliance faces. NATO also agreed to expand its current missile defense command, control, and communications capabilities to protect NATO European populations, territory, and forces. Allies at Lisbon welcomed the EPAA as the U.S. national contribution to NATO's missile defense capability, as well as welcoming additional voluntary contributions from other Allies.

There are four phases of the EPAA to be implemented over the rest of this decade. We have made progress on each phase and are on a path to meet the goals the President set forth in 2009.

•      Phase One (2011 timeframe) will address short- and medium-range ballistic missile threats by deploying current and proven missile defense systems. It calls for the deployment of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)-capable ships equipped with proven SM-3 Block IA interceptors. In March of this year the USS Monterey was the first in a sustained rotation of ships to deploy to the Mediterranean Sea in support of EPAA. Phase One also calls for deploying a land-based early warning radar, which Turkey recently agreed to host as part of the NATO missile defense plan.

•      Phase Two (2015 timeframe) will expand our coverage against short- and medium-range threats with the fielding of a land-based SM-3 missile defense interceptor site in Romania and the deployment of a more capable SM-3 interceptor (the Block IB). This week, on September 13, the United States and Romania signed the U.S.-Romanian Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement. Once ratified, it will allow the United States to build, maintain, and operate the land-based BMD site in Romania.

•      Phase Three (2018 timeframe) will improve coverage against medium- and intermediate-range missile threats with an additional land-based SM-3 site in Poland and the deployment of a more advanced SM-3 interceptor (the Block IIA). Poland agreed to host the interceptor site in October 2009, and today, with the Polish ratification process complete, this agreement has entered into force.

•      Phase Four (2020 timeframe) will enhance our ability to counter medium- and intermediate-range missiles and potential future inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) threats to the United States from the Middle East, through the deployment of the SM-3 Block IIB interceptor. Each phase will include upgrades to the missile defense command and control system.

It is important to note that when the President announced EPAA he welcomed Russian cooperation on missile defense. We have made progress on this front as well. At the November 2010 NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Summit, NATO and Russia committed to exploring opportunities for missile defense cooperation. Effective cooperation with Russia will enhance the overall effectiveness and efficiency of our combined territorial missile defenses, and at the same time provide both NATO and Russia with greater security. As an initial step, NATO and Russia completed a joint ballistic missile threat assessment and agreed that the NRC would resume theater missile defense cooperation. The United States and Russia also continue to discuss missile defense cooperation through a number of high-level working groups at the State and Defense Departments.

Moving forward, the Administration will continue to consult closely with Congress and with our NATO Allies to implement the vision the President set forth in September 2009. We will also continue to rigorously evaluate the threat posed by ballistic missiles and the technology that we are developing to counter it. The United States remains committed to cost-effective and proven missile defenses that provide flexibility to address emerging threats.

For more information on U.S. missile defense policy, please see the Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR).

Barack Obama, Fact Sheet: Implementing Missile Defense in Europe Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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