The Paths Ahead: Missile Defense in Asia
March 30, 2006
The Paths Ahead reviews the current situation and future prospects of ballistic missile defense in Asia. The study considers the threats to -- and defensive capabilities of -- Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and Australia, and illustrates the BMD policy choices each faces. It also outlines policy options for the United States should it choose to assist in providing defenses. Although unclassified, The Paths Ahead draws on the expertise of numerous foreign policy and missile defense experts, and is already being read with great interest on both sides of the Pacific.
At the moment, Japan is energetically pursuing development and deployment of defenses. The Diet has recently revised a number of defense laws to make BMD more effective and increase cooperation with the US. South Korean policy is to stay far away from national involvement in BMD, which they see as antithetical to eventual reunification with North Korea. Taiwan’s lack of a national consensus regarding missile defense has resulted in paralysis on deployment. India is in the market for a missile defense system, but their national requirement for operational control complicates potential cooperative defense. Australia's BMD initiatives are aimed at providing protection of forward-deployed forces rather than homeland defense. Each situation leads to a different set of strategic, procurement, and operational choices.
Current and planned US BMD assets have the capability to fill many of the gaps between threats to American allies and friends in Asia and their indigenous defense capabilities, but a) responses depend highly on the specific scenario, and b) Chinese air- and sea-defense environments pose formidable obstacles to employment of many US BMD systems, particularly those operating in the boost phase.
Kurt M. Campbell holds the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in National Security and is Director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Previously, Dr. Campbell served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific in the Pentagon. He is also a contributing writer to the New York Times, a frequent on-air contributor to NPR's All Things Considered, and has been a consultant to ABC News. CSIS senior fellow Jeremiah Gertler has analyzed missile defense issues in Congress and the policy sector since 1984, and is frequently cited in major media on national security matters.