GOP Lawmakers Call for Strengthened U.S. Missile Defenses

Republican members of a key U.S. House of Representatives panel last week called on the Obama administration to ensure the United States is protected against potential missile threats (see GSN, Nov. 17).

"New intelligence" indicates that foreign nations such as North Korea are working on ballistic missiles that could reach the United States, GOP lawmakers on the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee said in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (see GSN, Jan. 11).

"We believe this new intelligence reiterates the need for the administration to correct its priorities regarding missile defense, which should have, first and foremost, the missile defense of the homeland," the letter states.

The Obama administration in 2009 unveiled its "phased adaptive approach" for a Europe-based missile defense system, which calls for deployment of increasingly sophisticated missile interceptors around the continent beginning this year.

"As you know, the only missile defense capability to [protect] the homeland currently in place is the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) in Alaska and California, which this administration and the previous Congress cut by over $1.65 billion," the lawmakers told Panetta. "At the time, this decision was explained on the basis of 'new intelligence' that justified deprioritizing national missile defense in favor of defense against regional missile threats."

The panel members called the move an "error" and reaffirmed their position that "the administration immediately reprioritize the defense of the homeland."

The administration has failed to follow through on pledges to establish a "hedging strategy" to further protect the United States against missile attacks, according to the letter. "Further, we are hearing from the Department of Defense that the administration has no plans to restore the buy of GBI interceptors planned by the previous administration, and may only be prepared to buy new missiles solely for testing purposes," it adds.

There are also indications the administration could cancel plans for creating a new version of the Standard Missile 3 missile, which is intended to be a key asset in plans for European missile defense, according to subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio) (see related GSN story, today).

“It would be a double blow to the defense of the homeland if the administration now walks away from the [SM-3] 2B missile without restoring programs for missile defense of the United States,” the letter says.

The lawmakers called on Panetta to finish preparation of the hedging strategy before 2012 and to "ensure" the Pentagon's fiscal 2013 budget request includes sufficient funding for programs to protect the U.S. homeland against ballistic missile threats (U.S. Representative Michael Turner release, Nov. 17).
 

November 22, 2011
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Republican members of a key U.S. House of Representatives panel last week called on the Obama administration to ensure the United States is protected against potential missile threats (see GSN, Nov. 17).