March 25, 2023

U.S. air and missile defense efforts have long been characterized by a striking dichotomy. Defenses for the homeland have largely focused on long-range ballistic threats, while cruise missile defense and other air defense efforts have focused on regional and force protection applications to the exclusion of the homeland. This compartmentalization assumes that battles in one place will only consist of certain parts of the threat spectrum, and battles elsewhere will consist only of others. That lingering dichotomy creates a vulnerability that near-peer adversaries now seek to exploit. In a sense, the homeland-regional dichotomy ignores the fact that North America is a region, too. As with any other region, attacks on assets in North America could be designed to shape the political and military calculus of U.S. policymakers. This report explores the strategic significance of air and missile defense for the homeland, considers principles informing defense design, and develops and costs an architecture based on those principles.

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