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Obama Neglecting Homeland Missile Defense, Lawmaker Says

The chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee on Tuesday said the Obama administration's emphasis on establishing a Europe-based missile shield comes at the expense of work on systems for safeguarding the U.S. mainland from missile strikes, according to U.S. News & World Report (see GSN, March 7).

"We are not seeing a commitment by this administration for protection of the homeland. ... We've shifted to a European, regional protection system as opposed to a system that provides homeland security," said Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio). "And the administration continues to diminish our ground-base investment as we are depending currently on our missile defense in Alaska."

"Anyone who supports missile defense, who supports missile defense of mainland United States, has to be a supporter of ground-based systems because it's the only one we have right now that supports the national security protection of the mainland United States," the lawmaker added.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has deployed 26 missile interceptors in Alaska and four in California under the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program. Another eight interceptors could be fielded in Alaska by 2016, according to recent reporting (see GSN, March 2).

There have been eight successful intercepts in 15 tests of the system. The next intercept attempt is scheduled for late 2012.

"Representative Turner and his colleagues continue to criticize the Pentagon for not developing and deploying the GMD system quickly enough. Given the long and troubled history of the program, however, deploying newer technology before it is ready doesn't make sense and risks wasting billions of dollars," said Kingston Reif, nuclear nonproliferation director for the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation. "Instead Turner should support the Pentagon in its efforts to determine the cause of the recent test failures and ensure that they're adequately resolved and corrected before rushing to buy and deploy additional costly interceptors."

Meanwhile, the administration is moving ahead with a program for fielding increasingly advanced land- and sea-based interceptors around Europe as a declared means of countering missile threats from the Middle East (see GSN, March 20).

"This relies on an untested and uncreated system, which is just a gleam in the eye of a weapons designers," said former Ambassador and Defense official Eric Edelman.

The administration is seeking $9.7 billion for ballistic missile defense operations for the fiscal 2013 budget year, which begins on Oct. 1. That would be a $700 million reduction from current levels.

"Whenever an issue is discovered that there is a problem, cutting funding to that system is not going to solve that problem," according to Turner. "We should have had a much more aggressive testing process" (Lauren Fox, U.S. News & World Report, March 20).

 

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GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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