Issue Briefs

Five Fast-Track Options For Blunting North Korea’s Missile Threat To America (from Forbes)

Five Fast-Track Options For Blunting North Korea’s Missile Threat To America (from Forbes)

Loren B. Thompson

August 7, 2017

Diplomacy is getting U.S. leaders nowhere in slowing the North Korean missile program, so now Washington will need to consider its military options.  Beefing up missile defense of the homeland is much less dangerous than taking offensive action against North Korea.  But all of the near-term defensive options for coping with the danger focus on one program: Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD).  No other program in the Pentagon’s portfolio can intercept long-range ballistic missiles in the time frame when better defenses will be most urgently needed. So the Trump Administration needs to think in concrete terms about how to quickly make GMD as effective as possible.  The most compelling options are increasing the number of interceptors above a planned 44; accelerating development of a redesigned kill vehicle to be carried on the interceptors; upgrading sensors used in discriminating hostile warheads from decoys and debris; building additional missile defense sites, perhaps with mobile launchers; and picking up the pace of testing to assure GMD would function successfully in a crisis.  I have written a commentary for Forbes here.


Loren-Thompson_avatar-300x300Loren B. Thompson is Senior Adviser of GPI , Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.


The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy of GPI.