It has been one year since the 2008 national election. During this period, the cause of missile defense has suffered serious setbacks. The overall budget for missile defense for this fiscal year will be $1.6 billion less than the amount allocated in fiscal year 2009. The number of fielded long-range defense interceptors in Alaska and California will be 30, as opposed to 44. The Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) program for countering decoys and countermeasures designed to overwhelm or confuse the defense has been terminated. The Airborne Laser (ABL) program has been curtailed. The boost-phased interceptor program, called the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) has been terminated. Finally, the program to field ground-based interceptors for countering long-range missile in Europe has been canceled.
As bad as the past year has been for missile defense, the future appears even bleaker. The Obama Administration is prepared to subordinate missile defense to its arms control agenda, most particularly President Obama’s desire to achieve global nuclear disarmament. It is also pitting one missile defense program against another, which is likely represents a serial approach to killing most of these programs.
Finally, the Obama Administration is on the cusp of reducing the overall defense budget in fiscal year 2011 in ways that will hit the research and development and procurement accounts particularly hard. These are the accounts that fund the bulk of the missile defense program. Thus, additional funding and programmatic cuts to missile defense are quite likely. Finally, the Obama Administration is likely to justify these reductions in a missile defense policy review that is a part of the broader Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The result is that the American people and forces in the field, as well as America’s allies, will be left vulnerable to missile attack. This is a vulnerability the American people should demand that the government close. After all, the first duty of the federal government is to defend the American people.