Defense Against Nuclear Weapons:

Coordinated Strategy Needed Between SDI and Air Defense Initiative

NSIAD-91-264: Published: Sep 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1991.

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Nancy R. Kingsbury
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) provided information on whether the Department of Defense (DOD) has refocused the Air Defense Initiative (ADI) based on the changed Soviet threat; and (2) compared the ADI program's funding and schedule with those of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a companion program.

GAO found that: (1) although recent policy decisions suggest that the SDI and ADI programs should be closely linked, the programs appear to be proceeding independently and on different schedules; (2) the number of cruise missiles, bombs, and short-range attack missiles in the Soviet Union can be expected to increase over the next several years from 13 percent to 39 percent of the total number of Soviet nuclear weapons; (3) by 2000, at least 24 developing nations will possess ballistic missiles and 9 of those nations either have or are close to acquiring nuclear capabilities; (4) although ADI is being refocused, DOD has not defined an initial ADI baseline architecture; (5) in fiscal year (FY) 1991, the SDI Organization estimated that the Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS) architecture would cost $46 billion, of which the SDI Organization had funded only $1.8 billion; (6) for FY 1992 and 1993, the DOD funding request of $589 million for ADI is only 6 percent of its $9.5 billion SDI request; (7) the funding difference between the programs indicates that ADI will fall further behind SDI in coming years; (8) for FY 1994 through FY 1997, the DOD Future Years Defense Plan includes $30 billion for SDI but no funding for ADI, but DOD plans to transfer sufficient funds from other DOD programs to fund ADI for the amounts indicated in the new program plan; and (9) both systems will be necessary if Congress decides that comprehensive protection is needed, and closer coordination and planning will be required to ensure the most cost-effective approach to acquiring SDI and ADI systems.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: With the perceived reduction in the threat of a massive Soviet strategic strike, Congress and DOD are altering the priorities and focus of these programs. Protection against third world, theater ballistic missile strikes, and accidental or unauthorized Soviet launches is now receiving priority.

    Matter: To ensure that a cost-effective combination of SDI and ADI systems is developed, Congress may wish to consider requiring DOD to provide the strategy before full-scale development funds are obligated for any system for the SDIO GPALS concept, other than the missile upgrade for the operational Patriot.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress has acted to implement a step-wise, evolutionary implementation of strategic protection. Their funding and direction would defer portions of the Administration's global protection proposals for SDI and reduced priority on ADI. This is consistent with the perceived Soviet threat reduction and the government's budget constraints.

    Recommendation: Considering the recent refocus on protection against accidental or unauthorized attack by ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and bombers, DOD should provide Congress with its recommendation for a strategy for providing protection against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and long-range bombers. At a minimum, this strategy should: (1) explain the objectives of the ADI and SDI programs; (2) identify the combined ADI and SDI systems needed to meet the objectives; (3) provide information on the total cost and schedule for acquiring this protection; and (4) explain how DOD would manage the programs to ensure a coordinated and balanced approach between the two programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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