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U.S. Tests Missile Defense

In December, the United States successfully tested a ground-based interceptor missile over the Pacific Ocean.

According to the U.S. Defense Department, the test provided evidence of the effectiveness of a planned missile shield the U.S. has agreed to build in Poland and the Czech Republic. The purpose of that shield is to defend our allies from missiles that could be launched from the region.

The test target missile was fired from Alaska, and it was destroyed by an interceptor launched from California. U.S. Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, called the test "a significant success":

"The kill vehicle was sent to a very accurate spot in space. And that does give us great confidence. And so, yes, it is the first time we have ever done that in an actual test and with our soldiers operating it, sailors and airmen. So there's many disparate parts of the system all working together, integrated for the first time."

Iran has an active ballistic missile program and continues to develop missiles with increasing range. Air Force General Victor E. Renuart, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, says there is a growing threat from nations that are vigorously working to develop capabilities that could strike U.S. allies or territory.

"Other people are rapidly approaching the capability to threaten our homeland, and we need to be in a position to have the choice to defend ourselves," said General Renuart.

Russia objects to the U.S. building a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. The U.S. has offered repeated assurance to the Russians that the system is not directed at them. The U.S. remains committed to protecting our allies in the region against missiles fired by rogue states.