Two items of note for today’s summary — France may be seriously studying missile defense and Russia’s at it again (re. European Phase Adaptive Approach – PAA).

Parlez-vous la Défense de Missile Balistique ?

A recent 65-page study on BMD, written by three members of Parliament at a think tank linked to the National Assembly (“Defense et Strategie”) argues for France committing to building, or at least contributing to a BMD system to counter the growing threat from nations hostile to Europe (in general) and France (in particular). The authors, members of leading centrist parties, assert that the threat will grow over the next 15 years, especially from the likes of Iran, and (and this is a new argument) that a BMD is necessary to strengthen France’s nuclear deterrent. In doing so, they also acknowledge that the political will to move forward is lacking in France and Europe (surprise!) and is an attitudede that they seek to change.

It is also perhaps worth noting that it was the Obama Administration’s decision to press with the PAA over the former GBI-centric system the Bush Administration had planned that pushed the authors into the study. The reason? Their view that an American-led system and architecture establishes American industry as a threat, or ‘double risk’ for Europe — double since the Europeans and NATO have yet to devise a comprehensive BMD policy in line with 21st Century threats and if one country equips itself with an American C2 system, it must, perforce, equip itself entirely with compatible US parts.” Note that the Japanese don’t seem to mind with the incorporation of Aegis BMD into their cruisers and establishing joint development for elements of the SM-3 system. The rub, of course, is as the report goes on to say, that the lack of a BMD system would leave European companies blocked from accessing certain export markets. Sort of like the ones cruise missiles like the EXOCET have been pitched to. That worked out well for all involved (cf. USS Stark).

Obligatory snark about export sales and French aspirations to industrial prominence aside, the study is significant in that it acts as both another venue voicing concern over Iran’s long-range missile progress (no one but the most ardent partisan would argue the French are sock puppets for the US, especially where maters of intelligence are concerned) and it may well be a bellwether signal that Europe proper may be moving off the dime in terms of serious consideration of ballistic missile defense on the Continent. One method suggested would be the formation of industrial partnerships to develop a European BMD based on France’s current highly advanced technology and cited the ASTER missile system as an example.

This will be a most interesting topic to follow for any one of a number of reasons. As anyone who has worked with/in NATO will attest, gaining consensus for action is the key for success, be it in planning or operations. But in the world of missile defense, one of the hardest things to accomplish is establishing a sound architecture for command and control of the system. Hard enough when only one or two countries or AORs are in play, and almost Stygian where the defended area encompasses many borders and nations. Seams abound and where seams and gaps reside, ballistic missiles readily fill. In no small degree this is one of the major challenges Navy faces as it moves down the four-phase PAA for the defense of Europe with sea- ad shore-based Aegis BMD/SM-3 integrated with TPY-2 and THAAD batteries. Perhaps in the interest of integration and economy, France ought to look closer at what the US has already accomplished with international partners like Japan, Israel, Britain, Spain and the Dutch across a variety of programs and capabilities.

(note: the study may be found here:

In the meantime, Russia continues to work a campaignof disinformation, hoping to disrupt and thwart the deployment of BMD in Europe…

Iran No Threat to USA, Europe ‘In Foreseeable Future’ – Russian Foreign Minister

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks at a press conference in Moscow Photo: AFP/GETTY

In an article in today’s Ria Novosti, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took a direct shot at the US’s proposed missile defense plan for Europe and the US:

“It is evident that Iran currently poses no threat to the U.S. and European countries… At the moment, Iran has no missiles capable of striking Europe, let alone the U.S., and is unlikely to develop [such missiles] in the foreseeable future,” Lavrov said.

Pressing the point, in another article he surfaced a concern that the US has repeatedly, since the days of the GBI deployment, detailed to the Russians is not the case:

U.S. officials admit that the missile defense system in Europe might be able to hit Russian inter-continental ballistic missiles by 2020.

“The U.S. administration says its global missile shield program is not directed against Russia. However, our conclusions on the true potential of the future missile defense system should be based on specific military and technical factors, not on words,” Lavrov said.

“We will not accept a state of affairs when a missile defense system poses a threat to Russia’s nuclear deterrence potential,” he went on.

The question one must ask — is Lavrov playing a “bad cop” to Medvedev’s “good cop” (and that is stretching it given Medvedev’s comments re. linking missile defense with the follow-on START treaty) where his rhetoric is merely used to address the home audience’s concerns, or, are we seeing a glimpse of Putin’s approach when he ceases being the power behind the throne and assumes the full mantle of national leadership as many expect when he is eligible once again? If the latter, then this Administration is going to have its hands full. Caution in dealing with our European allies, especially with Poland and the like, is the watchword. After unilaterally changing direction on one missile defense plan for Europe and the US by the switch from GBI’s to the PAA (and, for the record, I thought this was a proper shift) – another such shift that reduces or places additional limits in any way on the planned system will have negative consequences for perceived US leadership on the Continent.

We can expect that the Russians will continue to press this issue relentlessly – and our leadership, especially State and DoD had better be ready to just as relentlessly push-back.


  1. claudio

    On the first story, dont think the french will go through with it. It’s a little bit of “old Europe” seeing some measure of influence headed too far east and is more of a trial balloon. Français n’ont pas de testicules to do this on their own, neither the funds or will to expend the political capital. BUT, if the germans and some others want to dump money into this ala EADS, then they’ll probably be a player. Similar to their dependence on the US defense umbrella for the past 60 odd years, they will seek shelter under our BMD shelter.

    On the Lavrov bark, believe it’s meant for domestic consumption. The russians may feel a little uppity due to the results in Ukraine and may feel that they can be a little more obtuse on the situation.

  2. Claudio:

    Here’s another interview of interest, lots of bark for domestic consumption!
    Переговоры по СНВ – дьявол кроется в деталях (Negotiations on START – the devil is in the details)

    On the first article, have a chance to peel the onion back in some mtgs next week – will be interested to see what comes up…
    w/r, SJS

  3. claudio

    Had to laugh at the title of the site carrying that article you quoted, Free Press. Have to be kidding me.

    Still more stuff for the domestic consumption but always having an inquiring mind, have to dig a little further and as you say, peel it further. There has to be a point where they could paint themselves into a corner. Or are there ulterior motives? Some rhetoric is expected, heck we do it too. But at some point, is there more to it?

    They know that the ABM in present form, especially the Europe based interceptors not a concern to them, both in capability and numbers.

    Lets see, they have roughly 4000+ warheads and another 10k or so in reserves. we have 3000 or so deployed and considerably less than them in reserves. Soooo, what would 20 interceptors or “satellite capability” do against the number of missiles the russians would throw skyward? Pretty much as much as I could do with a slingshot.

    On the other hand, just throwing stuff and see what sticks here, lets say they just don’t want to sign a new agreement no matter what, this could give them cover back home to say the americans didn’t want to play so we took our ball and came home. We’re not playing anymore, we’re standing up to them. Depends on timing, delays, Elections coming up, Putin being strong, standing up to the west, etc… etc…etc. Some gains to be had there. What would benefit them not signing a new agreement?

    Not saying this is what will happen, but you have to consider all the posibilities. Not keeping up with this on a daily or even montly basis, Hopefully somebody for you is though. Whenever I dismissed something as “domestic consumption”, always in the back of my mind was “is there more to it?”

    Now, on to the french. I think I meant West vs East in my original post. I still don’t see the french being serious about this on their own. It took them just under $ 20Bil and almost 20 years to build 4 SSBNS, a major part of their defense strategy. The Degaule cost about 5 Bil, was 5 years behind schedule and still having issues. Their annual defense budget is 65-70 bil, about 2.5 GDP.

    With the above in mind, we are spending lets say, for arguments sake about 10Bil a year on BMD with or without some of the extras. roughly. you know better than me, and it’s huge, you have ABL, Sea X, EW radars, testing, building SM-3, etc, etc, etc. Lots of the green stuff everywhere. Where and how will the French squeeze out even 2 bill a year, assuming that they get 5 other fools to jump in? Nowhere. And most others in Europe, both old and new are quite happy to sit under the US umbrella. Whether they say so publicly or not.

    But, this argument would give them a change to “lead” from the front militarily in Europe, a place they are not accustomed to. So good luck to the two authors in convincing anyone in france to do this. Will be curious, if you can share any takes from your meetings.



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