The move is a response to recent North Korean missile tests. This is mostly public relations. As we know, North Korean missiles have the range, but not the brains to hit American soil.
DoD press secretary George Little announced on Twitter that Secretary Hagel will make a “missile defense announcement” today. Yesterday, Fox News reported that the US could very quickly mobilise 14 new missile interceptors.
The ground based interceptor missile silos are located Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. In 2010, 30 missiles were deployed there so an increase of 14 is substantial. It’s not clear that it would make a difference if an ICBM attack came from North Korea — especially given that ground interceptor tests experience a high rate of failure of in tests. Luckily, there’s almost no chance North Korea will be able to hit us anytime soon.
Update: As reported, Secretary Hagel announced plans to increase the ground-based interceptor deployment to 44 missiles. He said that the missiles should be in place by fiscal year 2017. The cost will be approximately $US1 billion, but details are hazy on where that money exactly will come from.
Hagel highlighted a successful test of the system in January, and said that though North Korea can’t yet arm an ICBM with a nuclear war head, the idea is to stay ahead of potential threats.