New Documentary Highlights Need for Missile Defense

“In 33 minutes or less, life as we know it in America could end. That’s the time it would take for an enemy’s ballistic missile to hit the United States,” declares the website for the new documentary, “33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age,” that premiered last night at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The executive producer, Rebecca Hagelin, prefaced the film by talking about how history is at a turning point and “America is vulnerable.”

This vulnerability is one of the key reasons that the film was produced. The documentary tells the story of the threats that American’s face from hostile nations and terrorist organizations.

Ballistic missiles follow a sub-orbital flight path to reach a predetermined target. Technology like this in the hands of rogue governments — such as North Korea is and soon Iran will be – is extremely dangerous to America and its allies. North Korea is working on long-range ballistic missiles that would have the capability to send a nuclear warhead to Alaska or California. Iran is in possession of weapons that can hit Europe, and will soon be able to produce nuclear weapons. And an even greater risk is that North Korea and Iran are likely to sell or give their technologies to terrorist organizations.

The threats that these countries pose have slowly been pushing our government to support the research and implementation of Anti-Ballistic Missiles. Under George W. Bush missile defense received more research and development than is had since the Reagan administration. According to the “33 Minutes” website; “In the past six years, the military has run 34 hit-to-kill interceptor tests, almost all of them successful.” The movie also asserted that the ABM system is “very precise.”

So precise, in fact, that even in the past year the U.S. has bypassed early-stage testing and shot down a broken satellite. Former director of The Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Henry ‘Trey’ Obering III, remarked that critics of the program said “we would not be able to hit a bullet with a bullet, we’ve gotten beyond being able to hit a bullet with a bullet, we are now able to hit a spot on a bullet with a bullet.”

Yet things are not quite where experts would like them to be. And an ABM program may be slowed down even more under an Obama administration. Dr. Kim Holmes, Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, worries about the president’s less than eager stance especially since, “we do not have enough capability right now.”

Critics of the program cite cost. Yet it would cost more to recover from an attack of a ballistic missile than it would to prevent it. Lt. Obering said, “When there is a missile in the air you have to have the ability to destroy it because the only other ability that you would have would be to apologize to those that died.”

The documentary asserts that prevention is always better than damage control. The development of ABM is vital to our national defense and security. As the “33 Minutes” website says, “It is fair to say that missile defense is no longer scientific theory, but a well-tested and functioning system.”

Those that worked on the film want to put missile defense at the forefront of the American consciousness. Dr. Edwin J. Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation, said “freedom is never without enemies” and that we “can not allow Americans to stand idly by” when it comes to matters of defense.

Organizations can sign up to host a screening of “33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age” through the website


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