Oren: “The Iron Dome Military Revolution”

In The Wall Street Journal, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren lauded the effectiveness of the Obama Administration-supported Iron Dome missile defense system. Oren wrote:

From drawing board to deployment in 2011, Israel completed the Iron Dome in a mere three years. The first two batteries-developed and financed entirely by Israel-took down dozens of Hamas rockets, making Iron Dome the first antimissile system ever to succeed in combat. The generous support of President Obama and the U.S. Congress enabled the construction of four additional batteries. Ultimately, 10 to 13 batteries and a full complement of interceptors will be needed to defend the entire country.

More after the jump.

Intercepting supersonic projectiles in midflight is literally rocket science. Israeli engineers pulled off the feat by combining cutting-edge tracking radar with electro-optic sensors and mounting them on highly mobile, all-weather air-defense systems. Iron Dome can hit multiple types of rockets and missiles at ranges of up to 75 kilometers. It can also be relocated swiftly to new sites and radically different terrain. (As part of our vast alliance with the United States, we have offered to share this pioneering technology.)

Most ingeniously, the Iron Dome determines within split seconds whether an incoming rocket is headed for an open space or a populated area-and saves its fire for the latter case. Millions of Israelis live within the terrorists’ range, with as little as 15 seconds to reach a bomb shelter.

By neutralizing most rockets headed for populated areas, the Iron Dome gives decision makers invaluable time to find diplomatic solutions. If salvos of rockets were pummeling Israeli homes, hospitals and schools, Israeli leaders would be under immense pressure to order ground operations that could yield significant casualties. By denying the terrorists a decisive offensive advantage, Iron Dome will save lives and prevent wars.

Before Israel’s recent Operation Pillar of Defense, Gaza terrorists fired some 700 rockets and mortars at southern Israel, many of which were taken out by Iron Dome. Still Israel was forced to take action, mounting precise sorties against terrorists and launch sites. In turn the terrorists fired 1,500 rockets, some aimed at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. These might have inflicted severe human and material loss, but Iron Dome downed nearly 85% of those headed toward populated areas.

Combined with Israel’s world-class civil-defense system, Iron Dome thwarted the terrorists’ aim to wreak intolerable damage. Consequently, Israeli leaders had the time and space needed to join with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in working out a cease-fire….

Iron Dome is thus a game-changer, but it isn’t a game-ender. Terrorists on our borders have more than 70,000 rockets, and 15 of every 100 fired can still get through the Iron Dome. The danger even of conventional warheads is unacceptable, but nuclear warheads would pose an existential threat. That is why, together with the U.S., Israel has developed the Arrow to intercept orbital and suborbital ballistic missiles, and we have successfully tested David’s Sling, a long-range rocket-defense system.

These innovations will not only protect Israel but enhance security for America and its allies world-wide.

WSJ Reports On Iron Dome’s Development


DEBKAFile: “Israel’s operation was an intel coup to shut Iran’s gateway to Cairo via Hamas.”

— by David Streeter

In its story on the development of the Iron Dome missile defense system, The Wall Street Journal reported that President George W. Bush’s Administration gave a “frosty” response to the system when it was first brought to their attention.

Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defense system spent the past two weeks successfully blasting Hamas rockets out of the sky-many in dramatic nighttime explosions-helping to end the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas in just seven days.

The battle to build Iron Dome, however, lasted years and provided fireworks of its own….

Despite initial Pentagon misgivings, President Barack Obama has given $275 million to the project since 2010 with the aim of reducing the rocket threat and eventually bolstering chances of a peace deal by making Israel feel more secure to agree to territorial concessions.

For years, Pentagon experts dismissed Iron Dome as doomed to fail and urged Israel to instead try a cheaper U.S. approach. Iron Dome faced similar skepticism at home. But an Israeli mathematician-general, along with a labor-organizer-turned-defense-minister, pushed the project through, overcoming the opposition of some of Israel’s most powerful military voices….

Israel’s Defense Ministry approached the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush with a request for hundreds of millions of dollars for the system. The reception at the Pentagon was frosty, according to current and former U.S. defense officials.

Mary Beth Long, the assistant secretary of defense who oversaw the Iron Dome review process, sent a team of U.S. military engineers to Israel to meet with the developers. After the trip, in a meeting in her office, the team voiced skepticism about the technology, citing poor performance in initial testing, Ms. Long said in an interview.

Rafael’s Mr. Drucker recalls an even harsher U.S. response. He said the U.S. team told them: ‘This is something that cannot be done.’

Some U.S. military officials argued that Israel should instead consider using a version of the U.S.’s Vulcan Phalanx system, which the Army was deploying in Iraq to try to shoot down incoming rockets, current and former defense officials say. Gen. Gold’s team had already considered and dismissed the Phalanx system.

By the end of 2007, Mr. Olmert and Mr. Peretz’s successor as defense minister, Ehud Barak, had both come around to backing Iron Dome….

Iron Dome got a significant boost soon after President Obama came to office in 2009. Mr. Obama visited Sderot as a presidential candidate and told his aides to find a way to help boost Israel’s defenses from the makeshift rockets, his aides said, although defense officials at the time still doubted Iron Dome was the way.

As president, Mr. Obama tapped Colin Kahl to run the Pentagon office overseeing U.S. military policy in the Middle East. Mr. Kahl found the Iron Dome request on his desk, decided to take another look and had what he later described as a light-bulb moment. ‘Ding, ding, ding. It just made sense,’Mr. Kahl said….

At the direction of a White House working group headed by then-National Security Council senior director Dan Shapiro (who today is the U.S. ambassador to Israel), the Pentagon sent a team of missile-defense experts to Israel in September 2009 to re-evaluate Iron Dome. The decision raised eyebrows in some Pentagon circles. Iron Dome was still seen as a rival to the Phalanx system, and previous assessment teams had deemed Iron Dome inferior.

In its final report, presented to the White House in October, the team declared Iron Dome a success, and in many respects, superior to Phalanx. Tests showed it was hitting 80% of the targets, up from the low teens in the earlier U.S. assessment. ‘They came in and basically said, “This looks much more promising…than our system,”‘ said Dennis Ross, who at the time was one of Mr. Obama’s top Middle East advisers.

That summer, Mr. Kahl’s office drafted a policy paper recommending that the administration support the Israeli request for roughly $200 million in Iron Dome funding.