Missile Defense Budget Cuts Are a Dangerous Gamble
Given the battle going on in Washington over the future of a critical homeland defensive system, it’s unfortunate that much of the American public isn’t aware of what they have and what they stand to lose with the stroke of a pen.
Today, while we face increasing threats from ballistic missiles, many Americans don’t know that their government has been deploying a system to protect our country against ballistic missile attack. Unfortunately, they also have no idea that the Obama Administration is pushing significant cuts in the construction of this protective shield– cuts that place its effectiveness in jeopardy.
On May 25, the secretive North Korean regime tested a powerful nuclear bomb– the second such test in three years. This was followed by at least six test missile launches. Media reports indicate that the isolated communist nation is now preparing for the possible launch of a long-range ballistic missile. This class of ballistic missile is believed to be capable of reaching the western United States.
North Korea is not the only emerging threat. Also, last month Iran test-fired a long-range ballistic missile with a range as far as Israel and parts of Europe. Iran also appears to be following North Korea’s path of pursuing a nuclear program.
America currently has a growing network of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California and sensors capable of detecting, tracking and shooting down ballistic missiles. It has taken years to mature the technology and build these complex facilities, and the completed system would protect our population in the event of a ballistic missile attack. However, just as real progress is being made in constructing our homeland missile defense, the Obama Administration is calling for a 35 percent cut in the planned Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, reducing its growth.
As threats to the U.S. and are our allies are increasing, it’s puzzling that the Administration would slash funding necessary to complete work on a defensive system to protect our homeland. While the Administration is increasing funding for theatre missile defense to protect our forward-deployed troops, it does so at the expense of homeland defense. Both should be fully funded.
As Ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, I offered an amendment in committee mark-up to restore funding to missile defense systems that protect our homeland. I also supported efforts to shore up missile defense funding as the House debated passage of the 2010 Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week. Although the NDAA does a lot to support our troops, unfortunately, it does not do enough to protect the integrity of our missile defense system.
Cutting key missile defense capabilities at any time is a dangerous gamble. With our current threats increasing, the timing of these funding cuts simply challenges common sense.
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