A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, during a test of a missile interception system Japan is seeking to bolster its defense against North Korea. Photo: US Navy via AFP/Latonja Martin

The Pentagon has released a 2018 National Defense Strategy and a Nuclear Posture Review in recent weeks, signaling far-reaching shifts in US strategic planning.

Now, the Defense Department is preparing to issue another key document — a Ballistic Missile Defense Review — in the next several days.

Given the current crisis over North Korea’s nuclear missile program, the upcoming anti-missile defense assessment could have the most short-term impact on US defense posture.

Reports say the review is expected to call for a major expansion of missile interceptor sites in Alaska, which currently form the bulwark against a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile attack against the US mainland.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a nonprofit research group, noting the release of the upcoming review said on Friday that there are already 44 Ground-based Mid-course Defense (GMD) interceptors in California and Alaska. The Pentagon is said to be looking to build at least 20 more.

Laura Grego, a UCS representative, noted buzz in defense circles that up to 100 GMD interceptors  could eventually be based in Alaska alone.

USNI News quoted one unnamed defense official close to the missile defense review as saying that the document “will take a much harder look at Iran, North Korea and China than the last review, released in 2010. ”

“Each of those countries has made huge strides both in range and lethality since that assessment, and the Pentagon’s thinking about the threat, and planning for it, hasn’t received the public airing that it should have until now,” the official was quoted as saying.

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