Is the Missile Defense Agency Cutting Back on Public Information? (June 26, 2013)

An article in Inside Missile Defense earlier this month reported that MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring would not be granting any interviews in the “near term.” (Courtney Albon, “PTSS CAPE Evaluation Submitted to Congress Despite Cancellation,” Inside Missile Defense, June 12, 2013.) The article went on to conclude that “MDA has provided limited information on its programs since last fall, dating back to a scandal involving its previous director.”

[Similarly, in May, Space News reported that MDA Spokeman Richard Lehner told it that MDA was not doing any interviews at that time. (Mike Gruss, “Missile Defense Agency Seeks Universal Kill Vehicle,” Space News, May 6, 2013, p. 7)]

This disturbing conclusion seems consistent with the recent removal of MDA’s “Update” and “Overview” briefing slides from the MDA website.

For at least the last few years, the MDA website’s Downloadable Resources page has included a link to a “Program Overview Briefing.” This briefing was a set of PDF briefing slides from a recent presentation by the MDA Director or other high-ranking MDA official. Older program overview briefings could be found by searching the MDA websitefor “ballistic missile defense overview” or ballistic missile defense update.”

About a week before the March 25, 2013 press conference announcing the deployment of fourteen additional GBI interceptors and the cancellation of Phase IV of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the link to the Program Briefing Overview was removed and replaced with the statement “Briefing slides coming soon.” Moreover, the older briefing slides are no longer accessible on the MDA website (at least I can’t find them).

At the time the briefing slides were removed, the posted slides were “Ballistic Missile Defense Update,” by then MDA Deputy Director Rear Admiral Randall M. Hendrickson, dated August 14, 2012. A more recent set of briefing slides is “Ballistic Missile Defense Update,” by MDA Director Syring from a talk delivered to the American Society of Naval Architects on February 22, 2013. As far as I know, these slides were never posted on the MDA’s website, but are posted on the Society of Naval Engineers’ website.

Below I have included these two briefings as well as a number of earlier MDA program briefings, dating back to 2007 (not all of these were posted as the “Program Overview Briefing” on the MDA website, nor do they include briefings focused on the EPAA, Aegis BMD, etc…):

MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring, February 2013:
BMD-Update-Syring-February2013

MDA Deputy Director Rear Admiral Randall M. Hendrickson, August 14, 2012:
BMD-Update-Hendrickson-August 2012

“U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense,” Moscow, May 2012:
US-BMD-Moscow-May2012

MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, March 2012:
BMD-Update-O’Reilly-March 2012

MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, August 2011:
BMD-Overview-O’Reilly-August2011

MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, September 2009:
BMD-Overview-O’Reilly-September2009

MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, May 2009:
BMD-Update-O’Reilly-May 2009

MDA Executive Director Dr. Patricia Sanders, June 2007:
BMD-Overview-Sanders-June2007

MDA Director Lt. General Trey Obering, March 2007:
BMD-Overview-Obering-March 2007

MDA Deputy Director Brigadier General Patrick O’Reilly, January 2007:
BMD-Overview-O’Reilly- January 2007

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