This week, The Heritage Foundation hosted “Iron Dome: An Examination of the Important Strategic Partnership on Missile Defense Between Israel and the United States.”
The event focused on the future of the successful U.S.–Israeli missile defense cooperation—especially in the context of the Iron Dome missile defense system—following President Obama’s signature of the United States–Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act into law. The Iron Dome system is designed to counter short-range ballistic missiles and is a part of the Israeli multi-tier missile defense system.
Lieutenant Colonel Merav Davidovits of the Israeli Missile Defense Organization delivered opening remarks. She focused on the threat environment and the benefits of the Iron Dome system. These include protecting the lives of citizens, national assets, and giving the leadership more time to decide on the most appropriate next course of action.
Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, focused on the increasingly complex and changing capabilities that Israeli adversaries (especially Hamas and Hezbollah) are acquiring, the scope of their arsenals, and sophistication of their technology.
Randy Jennings, a defense and media consultant with P-51 Consulting, commented on Capitol Hill’s significantly boosting funding for the program in the latest yet-to-be-signed National Defense Authorization Act. The United States–Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act contains strong language supporting the Iron Dome system. It is one of eight bills Congress has produced supporting Iron Dome.
Baker Spring, Heritage’s Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy, gave remarks on the implications for how the U.S. and its allies see the defense program for countering rockets and missiles. Generally, they can be divided into six categories:
- The cost of defensive systems,
- Whether the system encourages stability,
- Whether it contributes to an effective deterrence posture,
- Whether it addresses the moral obligation to protect civilians,
- The appropriate architecture for rocket and missile defenses, and
- How the U.S. and its allies think about their respective defense budgets.
It is important to sustain the current level of congressional support for Iron Dome and broader Israeli missile defense cooperation as Iran continues to advance its ballistic missile program. Elevating Iron Dome to a joint U.S.–Israeli production program would help to ensure its continued support. In addition, such an arrangement could serve the dual purpose of advancing technology and limiting the costs for both Israel and the U.S.
Nick Baranishyn is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm