North Korea is taking a shot at us. They are preparing to launch their Taepodong 2 missile. It is a weapons system with a 2600 mile range and nuclear warhead capability. It is a serious threat to global security. Having sat in the Fifth Fleet FCC (Fleet Command Center) while Iran tested a number of their equally dangerous Shahab missiles, the risk to the world is VERY real.
Fortuneately, the US has continued to purse missile defense as a part of our national security strategy. The Missile Defense Agency was headed at one time by RADM Katherine Page, a member of my Navy community. The ability of our forces to respond to missile threats has increased dramatically from the early days of the program under the Reagan administration.
Why is this important?
It is important in that systems and tactics which we are developing now may not appear to be necessary or useful to the American public (or even Congress). However, it is the future for which we are developing our defensive capability (note that our military is overseen by the civilian run Department of Defense - vice the original Department of War). The threats we will face in the next decades will range from the truly assymetric (Islamofascist assaults on computer infrastructure) to the traditional (nation on nation aggression - likely against a US ally).