The Obama administration is upgrading missile defense plans in Europe, not abandoning them, writes Robert Gates, the author of the Bush-era plans recently scrapped, in a New York Times op-ed. The previous plan would not have installed the proposed 10 long-range interceptors in Central Europe until at least 2017, while the first phase of the new plan will deploy scores of sea-based short- and mid-range SM-3 missiles as early as 2011—sensible, considering short- and mid-range missiles are what Iran has now.
The second phase, due in 2015, will put long-range defense capabilities in Central Europe, just like the old plan. The new plan implements a proven technology—the SM-3s—instead of one that still needs development. It deploys scores of them, as opposed to just 10, which is suited to Iran’s likely strategy of launching multiple mid-range attacks on NATO allies, at a much earlier date. The bottom line: “We are strengthening—not scrapping—missile defense in Europe,” the defense secretary writes.