Cruise Missile Defense

Progress Made but Significant Challenges Remain Gao ID: NSIAD-99-68 March 31, 1999

In response to congressional concerns that the Defense Department (DOD) may not be giving enough emphasis to cruise missile defenses, this report reviews the military's progress in establishing adequate mechanisms for coordinating cruise missile defense programs. GAO (1) identifies the organizational structure and mechanisms for coordinating cruise missile defense efforts, (2) determines the potential measures of the progress of coordination efforts, (3) assesses the progress of coordination using these measures, and (4) identifies the challenges that DOD officials believe still must be overcome. GAO focuses on defense against land-attack cruise missiles.

GAO noted that: (1) the organizational structure for coordinating cruise missile defense efforts across all services consists of the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Organization (JTAMDO) and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) supported by a three-tiered set of integrated product teams; (2) JTAMDO is to focus on operational requirements issues, while BMDO is to focus on acquisition issues; (3) these organizations are to work closely together, using a three-tiered set of teams comprised of personnel from all organizations involved in theater air and missile defense development, acquisition, and operations; (4) these teams are to develop and refine the overall mechanism for coordinating cruise missile defense efforts--the Theater Air and Missile Defense Master Plan; (5) the individual military services are primarily responsible for funding and developing systems and modifications for cruise missile defense; (6) DOD officials told GAO the ultimate measure of the effectiveness of the coordination process would be the fielding of a cost-effective, interoperable cruise missile defense capability; (7) full accomplishment of this goal is several years away, and DOD has not specified interim measures of progress toward the goal; (8) GAO identified some outputs and results that would indicate progress toward coordinating these efforts, including: (a) developing and refining an overall defense strategy and options for implementing the strategy; (b) gaining acceptance of the master plan by affected organizations; (c) developing and approving overall requirements for a family of theater missile defense systems; (d) planning and conducting joint demonstrations of the systems; (e) achieving agreement between the master plan and the services' proposed budgets; and (f) establishing investment priorities; (9) DOD has made initial progress toward coordinating its cruise missile defense efforts based on both the process and output measures; (10) DOD officials recognize they still face coordination challenges in acquiring a cost-effective cruise missile defense; and (11) there are technical challenges to be overcome, including developing mechanisms to enhance warfighters' ability to fight jointly and a capability to intercept cruise missiles outside the view of weapon system operators, improving sensors' abilities to detect and track low observable cruise missiles, fielding interoperable systems, and developing low-cost defense systems to counter attacks by large numbers of unsophisticated cruise missiles.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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