"Despite U.S. President George W. Bushs declaration that a nascent missile defense system is nearly ready, the military officials responsible for operating the system are far from clear about who will do what, when and how," reports Defense News."Parts of the system are still in development, rigorous tests have yet to be conducted, commanders are unclear about the rules of engagement, and operators have yet to be fully trained."So many key tests of the system have been scrapped that "the command that is responsible for drawing up the ground-based systems operating plans and procedures doesnt yet know exactly what the missile shield can do," the magazine notes.
There are even questions about just what hardware will be part of these engagement sequences. The missile defense official said they could include the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 and other weapons meant for tactical battlefield use, raising the possibility that military commanders may ask to deploy PAC-3 batteries on U.S. soil, which would be a first.Nor does the military have a firm grasp on who is going to pull the trigger -- a decision that's "more difficult than with ordinary weapons because different services and commands will operate different parts of" the missile shield.
Overall, the ground-based system will be run by the Northern Command; the future Sea-based Missile Defense system will be run by Pacific Command. The Air Force will operate some sensors, radar and satellites, and the Army will run command-and-control systems and launch and maintain some interceptor rockets. When the sea-based shield comes online, the Navys role will grow...Missile defense officials envision a system that is never finished.