Participants in the annual Space and Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville, AL, have a shared goal: protect the U.S. homeland, forward-deployed troops, and allies from a ballistic missile threat. The current fiscal environment and missile defense policies of the Obama Administration make this task ever more difficult.

The most recent debt ceiling bill, unless repealed, will severely compromise U.S. national security. The law establishes a goal of reducing federal deficits by $1.5 trillion, while requiring automatic spending reductions of $1.2 trillion if the goal is not met. In the latter case, half of the automatic spending reductions would have to come out of the defense account. This means about $600 billion would have to be cut from whatever figure applies to the defense account at that time. These reductions would irreparably harm the U.S. military and strip it of its ability to secure vital U.S. interests. Reductions might irreparably harm missile defense programs.

In addition, the Obama Administration has made massive cuts in the missile defense programs, cancelled promising programs (the Airborne Laser, the Multiple Kill Vehicle), disappointed allies by pulling out of joint programs (the Medium Extended Air Defense System, cancellation of a radar in the Czech Republic and two-stage Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Interceptors in Poland), and negotiated a New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia. The treaty imposes sweeping restrictions on U.S. missile defense options.

The threat is real, as more than 30 countries all over the world possess ballistic missile capabilities. Some of these countries, e.g. Iran and North Korea, have interests contrary to those of the United States. Both Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons programs and an ability to reach U.S. allies and forward-deployed troops with their ballistic missiles. North Korea has the ballistic missile capability to reach Hawaii and Alaska. This is not the time to cut missile defense spending; this is the time to provide for the common defense—the primary obligation of the government.