Department Of Defense Off-Camera Press Briefing on the 2019 Missile Defense Review
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John C. Rood; Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael D. Griffin; Missile Defense Agency Director U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves; Colonel Rob Manning, Director, Defense Press Operations
COLONEL ROB MANNING: Well, good afternoon. My name is Colonel Rob Manning. I'm the director of press operations here at the Department of Defense. Thank you for joining us today for an off-camera, on-the-record discussion regarding the Missile Defense Review.
If you do have recording devices that you want to put on the table, I would just ask that you put it on the leading edge.
Today, the discussion is going to be with the Under Secretary for Policy Mr. John C. Rood, the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering Dr. Michael D. Griffin and the Director of the Missile Defense Agency, Air Force Lieutenant General Samuel A. Greaves, and all of their bios are located on defense.gov.
Under Secretary Rood will provide brief opening comments, and then we'll open it up for your questions. We do have a limited amount of time today, so during the Q&A portion, please state your name and outlet and -- and I'll try to get back to you for a follow-up question, because we have so many folks here.
Again, the purpose of today's discussion is to provide you more insight regarding the Missile Defense Review. The review is posted on defense.gov, and hard copies are available here as well. Please turn off all electronic devices or turn them to the silent mode.
The Wi-Fi password is in the back of the room to your rear. And again, thank you for -- for coming today. We'll get started very shortly.
UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JOHN C. ROOD: OK. Well, thanks for getting together everyone. My name's John Rood and of course I'm joined here by Under Secretary Mike Griffin and Lieutenant General Sam Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency.
Just going to make a couple of remarks before we begin to take your questions. I guess what I'd start with is with the release of the Missile Defense Review today, this is the start of a new era in missile defense, the next era in missile defense.
The key thing that I would draw to your attention is the expansion of the coverage, and the policy statement that we're going to defend the United States not only from ballistic missile attacks, but attacks from hypersonic weapons, hypersonic missiles and cruise missiles.
It's a noteworthy change from the policy that existed before, but it's a reflection of the threat environment, the security environment in which we are operating.
If you look back over the past couple of decades, we're seeing an evolution of the missile threat facing the United States and a number of countries developing more sophisticated capabilities -- and more sophisticated capabilities to include those with advanced hypersonic weapons.
So as we enter this next phase, this next era of missile defense, our response will necessarily take that into account.
This will be a robust response by the United States, a robust missile defense system that we go forward with and we're going to do that not only with advancements in United States capabilities, preserving the capabilities that have been put out in the field or are in the process of being placed in the field, but adding new technologies and new approaches to missile defense, and we're also going to do that, as mentioned in the Missile Defense Review at some length, with allies and with friends around the world.
We've had some very substantial and successful collaborative efforts with countries like Japan. For example, the Japanese minister of defense was here yesterday. That was a part of our discussion, the success that we have had and a willingness of both parties, in Japan and the United States, to explore potential expanded cooperation going forward.
We've had very successful efforts at NATO with our allies there, first a decision by the alliance to defend its territory and people against ballistic missile attacks; to defend its deployed forces against missile attacks, and we're going to continue with that collaboration; and then, of course, we've had strong collaborative efforts around the Middle East, as well.
So with that, just by way of introduction, we'll be happy to take your questions.
COL. MANNING: We'll go with Lolita Baldor, Associated Press.
Q: Hi, Lolita Baldor with AP.
I realize you probably can't give us any real specific numbers here, but can you give us at least some idea of the -- the funding and the -- the length of time that this likely covers, from the -- what -- how much would -- you would be spending over how many decades to put some of these things in place?
The president specifically mentioned there is funding in this next budget, so just -- if you could just help us find a way to at least describe that in some way.
MR. ROOD: Well, missile defense has been -- occupied a substantial portion of the Defense Department's budget in the past and it will going forward. Again, this is a robust program that will be continued. Now in terms of the specific numbers when the budget is submitted here in the next month or so is -- that's when you'll begin to see that projected, not only for the year but of course the five year projection.
You know, as you point out, the vision that's articulated in the Missile Defense Review -- and again, the purpose of a document like this is to guide the efforts of quite literally thousands of people across the DOD enterprise, across the United States government, taking coordinated action.
And those -- the time horizon for those activities will exceed that of our budget submission, which is a one-year submission with a five-year projection that will go to the Congress.
COL. MANNING: Aaron Mehta, Defense News?
Just as a follow up on that, a lot of the technology that's discussed in here, it seems like it's going to be stuff that's down the line. It -- it seems like you have to get the budget rolling and get R&D going on this, but things like drones high up in the air with kilowatt lasers and even some of the F-35 stuff, I mean, this is technology that seems like it's going to be down the line.
So how confident are you that a lot of the technologies involved in here will actually be feasible, and when can we start to see some of this stuff actually getting tested and prototyped?
UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE MICHAEL D. GRIFFIN: Well, we are confident that the technologies outlined in the report are technologies we want to investigate, with experiments and prototypes and tests, and I'll emphasize again tests, to see how well they work, all right.
We're not talking about going straight from the Missile Defense Review report to an objective system, all right. So you'll start to see some of those experiments materialize over the next very few years. Those of us at a high level in the department are really here only for a limited period of time and we want to see some action. So stay tuned. The first things that you're going to see, the president specifically alluded to a space sensor layer that will provide, in wartime, the targeting ability we need and, in peacetime, the persistent, timely global awareness that we need and -- to quote -- to quote the speech.
So look for rapid progress on that.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL SAMUEL A. GREAVES: If I can add, one of the most important takeaways from the missile defense review is the fact that we will be executing a disciplined acquisition process for everything -- you mentioned lasers and -- and what we're doing in space. Crawl, walk, run. Under-promise, over-deliver; as in deliver in a timescale that we are promising soon. Prove things in the laboratory, prove things on the ground, maybe go to air, maybe go to space if that's where it ends up.
But the most important thing for us and within the administration and the Hill is that you won't see us jumping to the objective system immediately. We will take a very disciplined, milestone-driven -- those are very key words -- data-rich decision-making process to get there. Which I think, in the past, those of you who've covered acquisition, you pointed to those concerns. So we will not be making those mistakes.
Q: There's several times in the report where it says specifically, we're going to do a six-month review of some of these technologies. What do you expect to find in six months, if some of these technologies have been studied for years to this point, that's going to change your mind or confirm things in your mind?
MR. ROOD: Well, I mean, I can start and others can round out if necessary. But it's not just technology. It's the application of that technology to a specific mission consistent with the vision put forward in the missile defense review. And secondly, when you're dealing with large organizations which are composed of a series of other large organizations, coordinating the efforts of the team, if you will, around objectives and getting them to be -- working together to do those examinations is a substantial part of that area that I would point out.
STAFF: Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg.
Q: I had a couple -- a question for Mr. Rood and a question for the general. As clearly as you can, can you tell us whether in fact this report is a blueprint for preemptive strikes short of a conflict, or for ballistic missile strikes after a conflict begins? And for the general, among the here-and-now weapons that this report singles out is the SM-3 Block IIA. Kind of geeky but it's your most important air ordinance it seems.
It had a failure in January, you did a failure review for it and you found out a sparkplug, not related to the warhead, was the cause of failure. What is your confidence level right now that this key weapon, this here-and-now, can perform its missions and what does it -- what more tests do you have to perform on it before you -- you can say with absolute certainty, to the degree you can, that it's ready to go?
MR. ROOD: Do you want to start and then I'll follow?
LT. GEN. GREAVES: Sure. Extremely high confidence that the SM-3 IIA can execute its assigned mission. You mentioned the fail -- let me just make a comment about failure. Failure is not the inability to achieve your objectives in one test. Failure is the inability to deliver the capability you've been tasked to deliver. So we had one part that did not perform as designed or expected. We had the Failure Review Board, Dr. Griffin was -- provided oversight over that process. We briefed him on the results, he concurred with the identification of the root cause.
Since that time, we have successfully flown two flight tests; FTM-45 and then FTI-03, where that part was exercised on two stages for each flight. So we believe that we correctly identified the source and we have proven through tests that the corrective actions were -- are effective.
MR. ROOD: Tony, with respect to your question to me, the way to look at the Missile Defense Review is, it's a characterization of the security environment that we face, the growth in the missile capabilities we face, and how we're going to effectuate a response guiding not only the United States government's activities but our vision for how we're going to collaborate with friends and allies.
And with respect to things like preemption, missile defenses play a very stabilizing role. They give you alternatives to -- to allow time to avoid a crisis if you need to. What I mean by that is, while you always retain the military options to strike an attacker before they strike you, to respond during a conflict, or frankly to respond at times -- at a time and place of your choosing at a later date, when you choose to retaliate, and the character of it.
But the way to think about missile defense is that, for example, we've gone through a number of real world examples where potential adversaries have clearly been looking to cause a crisis, have brought ballistic missiles to operational status, like in North Korea. We have responded by bringing our missile defense system, historically, to a state of alert. It's allowed time for things like diplomacy, it's allowed time for you to explore other options.
And so while things such as, we strike an attacker before they would strike you, would you respond after attack, all those remain a part of any military doctrine and are not revised by the missile defense review. But the main takeaway I guess I'd ask you to look for the Missile Defense Review, is the main purpose of missile defense is to deter an attack. And if deterrence fails, to form a defense.
Q: OFF MIC -- scenarios laid in the report that implies preemptive strikes.
MR. ROOD: Striking something when it is already in the boost phase is not preempting. They are already -- they are already launching on you.
LT. GEN. GREAVES: That's right.
MR. ROOD: And your goal -- and your goal is to nullify that attack as quickly, as certainly, as possible. The Missile Defense Review is not about preemption.
STAFF: Courtney Kube, NBC News.
Q: Actually, I have just a follow-up on that, actually. In the -- the question of the boost phase, that's something that has to be a decision that's made very quickly. So are you talking about using weapons or some kind of a -- a system that would take out a ballistic missile in the boost phase during peacetime? Or was this -- is this only something you'd be considering during conflict?
And then -- and I would love just to get your feelings on what that would mean. We would have, you know, operators who are out there in the field who would have to make that call. Would they just have like a constant authority to do that? It's their -- their call whether to shoot down the -- and then -- and then just my other one is, there's some confusion over whether might be -- there's talk of another U.S.-based GDI site. Could you clear that up, whether that's under discussion and what locations you're looking at?
MR. GRIFFIN: Sure. I mean, just to start at the fundamentals, of course, when a missile is in boost phase is -- is after it has been launched. In other words, it is -- boost phase is the period of time under which it's under powered flight. So, think of a missile beginning to rise, arcing towards its target in the United States or against our allies or against our forces. So, by definition, you're responding to an attack that the other party has. That's why they've launched the missile.
So, when you say, would that be a form of preemption? No, I mean the attacker has fired and therefore you're attacking that missile in its boost phase. And the way that we delegate those authorities, and we have an operational system today, is -- is very similar to how we would handle this, going forward, in the sense that there are certain rule sets that are given,
Can you determine this is a hostile act? It's not that hard if an attacker -- if you're in a conflict and they're firing a missile at you and you see it flying through the air.
But then the authorities to deal with that in a way that delegates the command structure relationships appropriately would be -- be a part of that, going forward.
But, Mike, you wanted to add to that.
MR. GRIFFIN: Well, and -- and you ask what we're doing right now. We're -- our job in USD(R&E) and in Missile Defense Agency, is not to determine how the particular capability will be used years hence. What we're working on right now is developing the capability, OK. And the decision structure which surrounds it is a matter, as John was saying, what -- what is the state of tension in the world. What other activities are you engaged in. All those are questions of strategy and policy that are decoupled from developing capabilities.
MR. ROOD: And I should add, Courtney, part of the advantage or the logic behind why you want to be able to attack missiles in their boost phase, is obviously the earlier that you can get the -- the threat missile on its way towards an American city or a formation of American soldiers, is very much in your advantage.
It also -- if you are beginning that defensive operation, as the missile is rising through the -- through the atmosphere, your later defenses also have an opportunity, should you have an issue or you're not in the right place, for them to take effect.
And we have -- most of our defenses today are in what's called the mid-course portion, after boost during some intermediary period. And so adding this layer is effective.
And also, you've all seen the videos, that as the missile first begins rising, they're slower. They lumber through the air. As they pick up speed, this is a more challenging target.
These folks could give you far greater technical detail. But, I mean, that would be the -- the basic approach.
Q: The GDI site? Is there -- I hope you could clear that up.
LT. GEN. GREAVES: Let's see. That is the same tasking we received from the Congress, years ago, to take a look at a potential CONUS interceptor site.
The department has completed everything up to a decision to -- to deploy that site. We've completed the Environmental Impact Statement work for the four candidate locations, and as the threat develops, the department will review the situation and then make that decision as to whether or not to proceed with that -- with that work activity.
COL. MANNING: Phil Stewart from Reuters.
Q: Hi. Just a clarification on North Korea. In the report, it said that North Korea was nearing the time where it could credibly threaten the U.S. homeland. Does that mean that you don't assess that the North Korean ICBM capability can threaten the United States now?
And then secondly, on the Russia-China question. You know, did the president's comments signify a change in doctrine about using U.S. missile defenses to potentially take down Russian and Chinese missiles? Thanks.
MR. ROOD: On the -- the first question on North Korea, North Korea has a long-range missile capability that's capable of reaching the United States. What -- we have pursued a missile defense system over the years in order to effectuate an effective defense against that threat.
Now, what the report talks about is, as North Korea produces additional systems and they grow in sophistication, our response needs to be robust and respond effectively to that.
And you'll, in another passage, note an explicit statement that the sizing constructs for the size of our missile defense force will be sufficient to outpace the scale of the North Korean threat, because we don't want to be in a situation where North Korea can credibly hold at risk American cities.
We want missile defenses to provide a stabilizing role, to deter an attack like that, to provide space and time for things like diplomacy, to provide time and space for other options.
Oh, Russia and China. Well, certainly as discussed by the secretary of defense and the president earlier today, we are concerned about some of the developments that we see in things like hypersonic weapons by those countries.
So we are going to pursue a robust, fulsome capability to begin with tracking hypersonic vehicles and later adding as we -- as we can to our defensive capabilities. You want to add onto that?
MR. GRIFFIN: No, that's good enough.
MR. ROOD: OK.
Q: OFF MIC -- clearly, is that a change in doctrine about the use of missile defenses against Russia and China?
MR. GRIFFIN: No, let me -- let me try to clarify. The comments about Russia and China should be more properly interpreted as you've seen on TV, President Putin talking about hypersonic missile threats. There are -- any number of you all in here have written articles on Chinese theater and regional hypersonic threat.
These are systems which are tactical in nature, but because of their anti-access area of denial capability, have a strategic impact. They're non-nuclear, but to the extent that they can hold our deployed forces at -- at risk, they are strategic in their implications and the Missile Defense Agency has the job of defending against these newer systems, as well as the legacy strategic missiles, and we're taking that on.
COL. MANNING: Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose?
Q: Thank you.
The report mentions the possibility of using F-35s equipped with interceptors to shoot down ICBM's. My limited understanding of the subject is that previous research has shown this is impractical from a physics standpoint and not cost effective.
What is prompting the Defense Department to re-examine this option?
MR. ROOD: I'll start. For certain regional geographies -- and North Korea comes to mind -- we actually think it's entirely possible and cost effective to deploy what I will loosely call air-to-air interceptors, although possibly of new design, on advanced aircraft, using the aircraft as either sensor or weapons platforms to -- to affect a missile intercept.
We will, as the report implies, be studying that again, but I've seen recently any number of assessments, several assessments, which indicate this is something we should be looking at and we will.
LT. GEN. GREAVES: Let -- let -- let me add that this is to the -- the interceptor potential capability, the sensor capability is also something that the Missile Defense Agency and the department is looking at. And to that extent, we have plans to integrate the F-35 into our test server -- our missile tests to assess that capability as part of the overall ballistic missile defense system or missile defense system.
Q: My understanding, though, and I caveat that I am not a mathematician or a physicist, is that if the physics and the math don't work, firing a missile from an F-35 to catch a ballistic missile simply is an impossibility. So --
MR. GRIFFIN: That's not true.
Q: So are you talking about current missiles like the AMRAAM, or are you talking about a --
MR. GRIFFIN: We are looking at, as I said earlier, possibly newly developed missiles. I don't think an AMRAAM from an F-35 is likely to be able to do the job, but that doesn't mean that no missile launched from an airplane could ever do the job.
And we do think it could be both cost effective and -- and within the bounds of, as you say, math and physics.
Q: Thank you.
LT. GEN. GREAVES: Let me add that a very big part of this discussion is our vision of any sensor through a command and control battle management system going to any shooter. And with the numbers that we will have of that platform, as an example, with its sensor capability as an example, integrated into a command and control -- multi-domain command and control system, depending on how you look at it, that is a very powerful capability to add to the overall capability of missile -- of our missile defense system.
And we will test it to -- to -- to either verify it works, or it comes with limitations, or it doesn't work.
COL. MANNING: Jenna Pak with USA Journal?
Q: Thank you.
Regarding about North Korea ICBM's, what steps are you taking to make North Korea's ICBM interceptors -- do you have any plans if North Korea is launching ICBMs? Do you have any immediate interceptors for this ICBM?
MR. ROOD: Well, the -- that is the -- the missile defense system that we have put in place to protect the United States, and that we intend to make even more robust, as directed by the Missile Defense Review, will be very effective and is effective against North Korea's long-range missiles that can reach the United States.
And so that's a system that General Greaves can describe. But essentially the integrated-sensor network that we have, the command and control, and then interceptors in places like Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, can provide a defense against that threat, and that's not the only parts of the system; there -- there are others.
Do you want add to that?
LT. GEN. GREAVES: Yeah, it -- it -- it's a system that begins with sensors in space, sensors on the ground, radars and then other sensors that detect that an attack is inbound to a defended area, as in the United States or a defended territory, and that information is fed into what we call a command and control battle-management system to assess the threat, determine where it's going and apply the resources as an -- a ground-based interceptor, I think, in the example that you're using, to be launched against that incoming threat and to destroy it.
Q: Thank you, thank you.
COL. MANNING: Paul Sonne, Washington Post?
Q: Thank you for doing this.
Two main questions. Are you guys confident that the missile defense budget will increase sufficiently this year to accomplish these goals? You were new GBIs going into Alaska, a lot of new initiatives that would require probably a sufficient increase in funding, and are you confident that that will come through?
And then secondly, on the Russia-China question to follow up on Phil's point, it does seem like this is an -- we -- you know, the U.S. has long said that its missile defenses were primarily aimed at rogue nations. This does represent a departure from that.
And with modifications like -- something like the SM-3 to a -- going after potentially an ICBM now from a ship, are these the kinds of developments that you think are going to prompt a response from Russia and China, and do you have any message to them on what you're trying to do and what you're not trying to do?
MR. ROOD: Well, in terms of Russia and China's activities, bear in mind they have a very large scale and very robust programs they have already been pursuing. You saw earlier this week the department released its report, the Defense Intelligence Agency, on the growth of China's capabilities, and they're very substantial in terms of what China has done and what they aspire to do going forward.
The specifics are -- are well laid out in that report. Russia has done very substantial things as well in its strategic forces, and they haven't been bashful about that, as you saw earlier this year -- or last year -- President Putin did a large-scale press conference with animation and other things, showing the capabilities of those systems.
So in terms of the response from Russia and China, I mean, I would direct you to what they are already doing and what they are already saying they are doing, for evidence of -- of that that predates, obviously, what the Missile Defense Review states.
Now in terms of the change in our approach, you will see in the Missile Defense Review, that the primary emphasis being given to the robustness and size and scale of our missile defense response being very closely tied to the missile threat we face from countries like North Korea and Iran.
And those are the -- those are near and present and -- depending on the country you're talking about -- threats that we face. In addition to the threat to the homeland, we also face threats to friends and allies and our deployed forces.
So those things are discussed. And I would draw your attention to a number of the graphics in the report that describe the growth in the U.S. force structure. The number of systems, the number of ships that will have missile defense capability to keep pace and, indeed, to stay ahead of that threat.
And then also with respect to Russia and China, you will note language in the report which talks about the United States continuing to rely on nuclear deterrence to -- in order to deter and prevent a long-range missile attack on the United States.
And that is another area, having spent some time in this particular room with a number of you, talking about the Nuclear Posture Review, that the Missile Defense Review and the Nuclear Posture Review are very well aligned and complementary to each other.
MR. ROOD: Budget. Yes. Well, obviously the specifics will soon become known. But obviously, the budget that will be rolled out is consistent with the Missile Defense Review, and will carry it forward.
Q: Is there missile defense funding?
MR. ROOD: Wait for it when the budget comes out next month. (Laughter.)
LT. GEN. GREAVES: Let me make one comment on the GDIs. I sense there may be, if not confusion, misunderstanding. The 20 GDIs are part of what the Congress authorized a few years ago, and that work is ongoing now.
MR. ROOD: We're in the process of --
GEN. GREAVES: We're in the process of delivering those.
MR. ROOD: -- building those systems and flying them.
COL. MANNING: Lara Seligman, Foreign Policy.
Q: Hi. Thanks for doing this briefing.
I'm wondering if you can give us a little more information about this space-based layer that the president talked about. This has been something that has been talked about previously. So how will you actually implement it this time? What does it involve? And what's the future of space-based interceptors?
MR. ROOD: You want that?
MR. GRIFFIN: Sure, I'll start.
With regard to a space layer, obviously it starts with the sensor layer, the sensor capability. I have alluded in a number of other occasions to the fact, and including this one, that especially the Chinese, but also Russia have developed regional hypersonic threat capability that we really must counter. It's not all about ICBMs.
These are dimmer targets, more difficult to see. We have to be closer to the action in order to do a good job of it. We also have to have a much broader range of -- of coverage.
In order to do that, we think the best approach is a network of satellites in low orbit. How many, what orbit, all to be determined. We are getting started on that this year.
With that capability also comes the requirement, as General Greaves was talking about earlier, to have more rapidly responsive comprehensive fire-controlled approaches.
So all of this is -- is wrapped up together in what we're calling the Space Sensor Layer, something that the Congress mandated us to do, now over a year ago. As -- as I've said now a couple times, we are starting on that this year. You will -- you will see that in the budget when it comes out.
Beyond that, we have the issue of, as was raised today, space-based interceptors, OK? We will be initiating yet another study, designed to say, in fact, what has changed, what are the costs, what are the -- what is the effectiveness, how -- what are the deployment modes, what are the considerations that would go into such a capability.
It's different than anything we have now or have on the books. But -- but we're going to take another look at it.
Q: Thanks, sir.
LT. GEN. GREAVES: One additional comment on the -- the need for the sensor layer. The way I try to explain it, if you take a baseball, and I'm here, I throw it in your direction, it's pretty much going in one direction. So you need far less -- a smaller number of assets to track where it's going.
With the newer threats, the maneuvering threats, the -- the hypersonic threats, we need birth-to-death tracking. That leads into what Dr. Griffin's talking about. We need to know where it originated, where it's going, what maneuvers it's making, so that we can position our intercept capability to interdict the target and defeat it.
So you need -- best place to do that, again, is from that network of space sensors, looking down on -- on the Earth.
Q: Sounds like you will need additional funding for the additional capability. Will this come out of a Space Force budget? Or will it come out of MDA?
MR. ROOD: In terms of the details of the budget, I think we'll -- we'll wait until we're prepared to kind of submit the --
MR. GRIFFIN: Are you getting the theme here, that we're not going to talk about the budget today? Because the president hasn't released the budget yet. (Laughter.)
COL. MANNING: Ladies and gentlemen, for those of you that are outside of our resident press corps, if you're called upon, please state your name and outlet.
And the other piece is, because of time, I'd ask that you limit yourself to one question. We're going to go to the second row in the center, with the gentleman with the blue shirt there.
Q: Can you go into --
COL. MANNING: Sir, if you could state your name and outlet?
Q: I'm sorry, you just said that. Sorry -- Andrew Clevenger with CQ.
Can you go into any further detail about the -- the limiting or information about the third GBI site on the continental U.S.? East Coast, designed towards a threat from Iran?
MR. ROOD: Sure. On the first, in terms of our policy on limits on missile defense, as stated in the report and you heard in the -- in the speeches earlier today, the United States policy is, we're not going to accept limitations on our ability to protect the American people and our forces from missile attack.
Now, there was a time in 1972 where the United States policy was different, and the United States signed a treaty called the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, in which we took a legal prohibition in that treaty, not to defend American cities from missile attack.
What's stated here is that we will not accept those type of limitations, going forward, given the threat that we face and the type of security environment we're in.
And with respect to the third site, if I can ask General Greaves to handle that, please?
LT. GEN. GREAVES: Sure. We, at the -- at the request of the Congress, have done every -- all the preparatory steps, to include an environmental impact statement, to assess the best sites around the nation and come up with four. And that information is there and resident, and it's awaiting a decision by the department to build -- select and then build a site.
And it's based on the perceived threat as informed by the intelligence community and others, and the department will make that decision and -- and we will move out on building that site when that's given.
MR. ROOD: And just one part, in case I wasn't clear. Of course, the United States signed the 1972 ABM Treaty in -- in 1972, but we later withdrew from that treaty. President Bush announced that in -- the end of 2001 and it took effect in 2002.
Q: Is Hawaii under consideration for a site?
LT. GEN. GREAVES: Not one of those four, because this was a CONUS, continental U.S. interceptor site. Hawaii's protected by the current GMD system, Ground-Based Midcourse Defense.
COL. MANNING: Kristina Wong, Breitbart?
Q: Great, thank you. Thanks for doing this.
We were briefed earlier this week that China's on the forefront of hypersonic missiles. How -- how far are we behind and how long is it going to take to get the space-based layer in place?
MR. ROOD: In terms of fundamental research and development, the United States is not behind. In terms of -- we -- we in fact pioneered all of that in the hypersonics world. As Acting Secretary Shanahan said, we simply chose not to weaponize it, we didn't think the world needed another arms race. Our adversaries have chosen differently.
How long will it take us to build competing systems? You know, a few years. You'll see these things start to emerge in the middle -- middle part of the coming decade. So not infinitely far out, but not the day after tomorrow either.
What was the second part of your question?
Q: The space-based layer, how long it might take…
MR. ROOD: Well, similar -- similar timeframes. You'll start -- you'll see experiments in 2021, 2022, on-orbit experiments with -- with -- I'll say highly developed metal systems, not -- as Lieutenant General Greaves pointed out earlier, not objective systems, but experiments in the early '20s, and I think you'll see operational systems in the mid and latter part of the 2020s.
COL. MANNING: On the side here, in the striped tie, sir. If you could state your name and outlet, please.
Q: Excuse me. Alex Horton from Vox.
After the president's speech and after reading the reports, some experts are already saying that the U.S. is engaging in this arms race. Maybe it is possible that, you know, Russia and China started it, but that really this American response is engaging in an arms race. I just wanted to know if you agree with that assessment at all.
MR. ROOD: We -- we certainly would disagree with that characterization. And I would point to -- your attention to the second word in the title of the review, the Missile "Defense" Review.
And so I -- I think to say that by creating systems that can shoot down the missiles that are fired at you that this is in some way some form of provocative behavior, I -- I just don't think is -- is accurate.
COL. MANNING: Sir?
Q: Thank you, Jon Harper with National Defense Magazine.
With regard to the study of space-based interceptors, is there a timeframe for when that will be completed and will it also look at the potential for directed energy weapons to be based in space?
MR. ROOD: Two separate examinations and it'll be done in the next few months.
Q: Thank you, Sandra Erwin with Space News.
Secretary Griffin, I believe you said in the past, that you were very concerned about the cost potentially of the space sensor layer, and MDA -- a lot of programs in MDA have been canceled in the past because of cost increases.
So you said Congress is telling you to do this system. Has Congress also given you some cost caps or some limitations of how much DOD was able to spend on this?
MR. GRIFFIN: To the latter question, no, they're asking us to do it and I -- I have to correct your impression that I am personally not concerned about the cost of the space sensor layer, that -- what I've said in the past is I'm concerned that others believe it would be too high, when I believe that it will be very affordable. So --
Q: What do you -- what do you define as affordable? What's -- what's a ballpark number?
MR. GRIFFIN: I believe that the capability -- the comprehensive capability by -- delivered by the space sensor layer we're talking about will be comparable to other existing assets today that we already have in the fleet, if you will, it's not some outlandish number.
I'm not able at this point to give you a specific number, but you're not -- you're not going to see us working on something which is out of family, if you will.
Q: Thank you.
COL. MANNING: Gentleman in the front row, red tie.
Q: Hey, just to follow up --
COL. MANNING: State your name and outlet.
Q: Oh, I'm sorry -- Justin Doubleday with Inside Defense.
Just wanted to ask what do you think was wrong about past cost assessments of these -- some of these capabilities, you know, space-based sensors, directed energy, because those cost considerations have obviously sunk those programs in the past.
MR. GRIFFIN: Well, I think one of the underlying difficulties with cost assessment for systems which haven't been built yet is that they fairly regularly assume a "business as usual" approach to new developments. We have newer technologies now, we have commercial capabilities coming into being which can help with -- with this.
We -- it has been a very long time since we deployed any large numbers of any sort of space asset at scale. All of these affect cost estimates, and we have to take that into account in order to produce a reasonable value, and I'm not sure that's always been done.
LT. GEN. GREAVES: If I could add one thing about cost estimates, I've dealt with them throughout my career and whenever I'm presented with a cost estimate, there are a number of questions I ask. What were the assumptions? What were the initial conditions? What -- what confidence factor are you assuming in the cost estimate? Is it -- is it average, is it the mean, is it 30, 40 percent?
Because those affect the numbers you end up with and also potentially in -- in a number of cases affect whether or not you can deliver at the price point that you have quoted.
COL. MANNING: And gentlemen, we have time for one more question, we'll go to the front row.
Q: Thank you very much, Patrick Tucker, Defense One.
So just to -- to many of us, some of the main items in the review are somewhat familiar. You've pointed out the addition of plenty mid-course interceptors. Was that something that was already underway as delegated by Congress, or was the deployment of a sensor -- a sensor layer that was already underway?
There was a hypersonics program, which is something that's established and now accelerating, we're told the most ambitious potential changes that may -- which we're waiting for is the space-based interceptor, for instance, have kind of relegated to studies.
So -- and yet the entire review was postponed from delivery for months and months. Many of us were waiting for a very long time to see whether it would actually come out of it. So I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about the process that you brought you to this moment and why -- if the main items are things that are mostly already underway, it was delayed for -- for so long?
MR. ROOD: Well, my first response would be, there's always time to get it right when you're putting together these reports. Having worked in government now for over two decades, it's at times difficult to predict how long it will take to work with all of the constituencies and have all of the different stakeholders participate, which is what occurred in this report.
But it's fair to say we're pleased with the -- the outcome, we're pleased that we got to this state and I think the report lays out a -- a vision and a way forward that will guide not only this department, but the United States government in looking ahead.
And as discussed in the report, part of it is -- is programatic but a lot of it is what is the purpose of missile defenses, why are we pursuing them, what type of threats do we seek to provide the capability to the American people to be protected from? How are we going to work with allies? And I would draw your attention to a substantial amount of the report devoted to that topic because that's a critical element of our plan going forward and that's fully consistent with the National Defense Strategy. Line of effort number two in that defense strategy that we continue to implement; building strong relationships, strong alliances with our friends and allies around the world.
Q: Did you talk with allies, for instance, about the inclusion of offensive capabilities? Is this an area that's perhaps exacerbated delay? The idea of establishing an offensive capability?
MR. ROOD: We talked to allies extensively both in the creation of the report and in recent days in the lead-up to its release. And say -- with response to offensive capabilities, there's always, in any part of military affairs, offenses and defenses are part of that equation. The sword and the shield, if you will. And so, the discussion in a military sense with NATO allies, with our allies in the Middle East and Asia, that's a very familiar discussion with them.
And it stands to reason that if an adversary is planning to use ballistic missiles against you or hypersonic missiles, whatever the case may be, the flavor, it occurs in a context. It occurs in a context of some form of heightened security issue, tension, it's difficult to say what that will be going forward. But the context matters greatly. And offenses and defenses are going to be a part of our attempt to deter conflict, to dissuade adversaries from seeking to coerce the United States and our allies and, if necessary, as part of the response.
COL. MANNING: And gentlemen, I'll turn it back over to you for any closing comments.
MR. ROOD: Well, thank you, first of all, for coming. Very good turnout. And for the quality of the questioning. Again, just to kind of recap on the Missile Defense Review, this is the next phase, if you will, the next part, the next era of missile defense that we have entered. And the scope -- this is called the Missile Defense Review, it's not called the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, as its predecessor report eight years ago described.
The description of that threat environment, I think, if you were to compare it to that which existed eight years ago, it's very noteworthy in its difference. And then the doctrine, the philosophy that guides our missiles defense efforts is laid out there not only to have a robust missile defense capability for the United States, to pursue peace through strength, to explicitly stay ahead of the threat that we face, and to do it in close collaboration with our friends and allies around the world and with advanced technologies.
So that's kind of a brief summary. Thank you so much for giving us a chance to talk to you.
COL. MANNING: Ladies and gentlemen, I'd just remind you, the review is available on defense.gov. We have hard copies here. If you have any follow-up questions, please get in contact with Mr. Johnny Michael or our team over in Defense Press Operations.
Have a great day.