The threat of ballistic missiles is a growing concern. Recent actions by some countries indicate that the threat of attack on the United States by long-range ballistic missiles remains real - and is growing. In addition to the recognized nuclear powers of the world, numerous other countries and rogue nations possess this capability or are working toward the addition of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical or biological) to their arsenals. This reinforces the need for the United States and her Allies to deploy a Missile Defense System. In the event of a ballistic missile launch, the ability to counter these weapons would save thousands -- even millions -- of lives. The purpose of the Department of Defense's Ground-based Midcourse Defense program is to deploy an efficient, effective system that detects, tracks, and destroys incoming missiles in midcourse flight before they enter our atmosphere.
Missile Defense Background
On December 16, 2002, the President signed a National Security Presidential Directive committing the Nation to the deployment of missile defenses to protect the nation from long-range ballistic missile attack by September 2004.
The adequate and timely delivery of a Missile Defense capability is required for Homeland Security, to protect the infrastructure and population at large, and to protect the nation's ability to mobilize and respond. The National Missile Defense Act of 1999 established the policy of the United States to "deploy as soon as technologically possible an effective missile defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack.”
Homeland Security is an Army core competency, and Missile Defense is a pillar of Homeland Security. Thus, the US Army was designated the primary service for the ground-based portion of missile defense, and the Army National Guard was given the mission of manning those units and assisting with system testing. Defense of the homeland is a traditional mission, well suited to the National Guard.
Congress strongly encouraged the National Guard Bureau to create a dedicated Missile Defense planning cell to facilitate coordination and integration between the Missile Defense Agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of the Army.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense), Colorado Army National Guard, provides oversight of the Soldiers trained to operate the nation’s limited missile defense capability. The Brigade comes under the overall direction of the responsible Combatant Commander during an operational mission.
The 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Alaska Army National Guard, provides physical security and defense of the interceptor site as well as operators who are trained to fire the missiles. The Soldiers who operate and maintain the site undergo a strenuous course of education and training before assignment to Fort Greely,Alaska.
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