Missile Defense Funding Drops $1.2B in Pentagon Budget

Funding for U.S. missile defense activities would be cut by $1.2 billion in a fiscal 2010 budget presented yesterday by the Defense Department, Reuters reported (see GSN, April 7).

Defense Secretary Robert Gates last month indicated that he would seek a $1.4 billion reduction in funding for the program, which is now expected to emphasize dangers posed by rogue nations and theater-range missiles.

The Missile Defense Agency would receive $7.8 billion for the budget year that begins Oct. 1.

Under the plan, which must be approved by Congress, the Pentagon would not install any additional missile interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska. Funding for the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 program would be slashed from $1.04 billion in this fiscal year to $404.4 million.

However, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System would see a funding boost, from the current $1.17 billion to $1.86 billion, while spending on the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system would rise from $882 million to $1.12 billion. The budget also calls for increased money for research and development to better counter long-range missile threats from rogue states (Morgan/Shalal-Esa, Reuters/Yahoo!News, May 8).

Some lawmakers quickly made it clear they were not pleased by the proposed cuts.

“As we learned weeks ago, there will be major proposed cuts to missile defense,” Representative Parker Griffith (D-Ala.) said in a statement. “This budget does not reflect the priorities of North Alabama and fails to provide clear support for national missile defense that is necessary to protect ourselves and our international allies."

Griffith represents Huntsville, which is home to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (U.S. Representative Parker Griffith release, May 7).

"Today, the Defense Department said it wants to study the merits of ground based missile defense before it commits to an expansion at Fort Greely," Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in a statement. "This is absolutely the wrong message to send to our adversaries. Moreover, the U.S. has already invested substantial amounts of money in the purchase of additional interceptor missiles and the construction of the second missile site. Are these dollars to be lost to our national security?" (U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski statement, May 7).

May 8, 2009
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Funding for U.S. missile defense activities would be cut by $1.2 billion in a fiscal 2010 budget presented yesterday by the Defense Department, Reuters reported (see GSN, April 7).