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Theater Ballistic Missile Defenses: An Emergency Role for the Navy?

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Master's thesis

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The end of the Cold War has brought about significant changes in the international and national security environments that present tremendous implications for the U.S. military. The strategic threat of global nuclear war has diminished considerably. While that threat is diminished, a new threat is emerging. Ballistic missile proliferation and related weapons of mass destruction are one of the major threats to stability in the new security environment. Ballistic missile systems are seen as destabilizing weapons that are a threat to regional peace and American vital interests in certain regions. This thesis addresses the possible need for theater ballistic missile defenses in the U.S. Navy as one element of a national strategy to defeat ballistic missiles in future regional conflicts. Specifically, it addresses the naval role for ballistic missile defenses, including an analysis of the present and future threat, an examination of how missile defenses dovetail into the national security strategy of regional contingencies, and the means by which the defenses can be employed. The issue of the threat involves demonstrating that a threat presently exists and that technological improvements in the future will greatly increase their utility and put many more targets, including U.S. Navy ships, at risk. The issue of the role that missile defenses fill in the national security strategy deals with their contributions to the fundamental pillars of that strategy. The issue of naval roles addresses the missions and tasks that a sea-based system can provide across the spectrum of naval warfare. The means by which the defenses can be employed is addressed to demonstrate how the U.S. Navy can be a major contributor using the Aegis construct.

Subject Categories:

  • Marine Engineering
  • Antimissile Defense Systems
  • Naval Surface Warfare

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