U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday accused House lawmakers of jeopardizing the security of the nation by adding unnecessary budget extras to fiscal 2013 defense authorization legislation, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, May 10).
"If members try to restore their favorite programs without regard to an overall strategy, the cuts will have to come from areas that could impact overall readiness," he said during a news conference. "There is no free lunch here. Every dollar that is added will have to be offset by cuts in national security."
The Republican-led House Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved a $554 billion base defense budget blueprint that includes $100 million for the Pentagon to study three locations that could host a third long-range missile interceptor site under the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system. The military would have until the end of 2015 to create the new antimissile site.
Republican HASC lawmakers said the new site was needed to defend the mainland United States from the potential future threat of ICBMs developed by Iran or other nations. The Pentagon maintains its two existing interceptor sites in Alaska and California are enough to protect the country from long-range ballistic missiles.
The White House requested $551 billion in base defense spending for the budget year that begins on Oct. 1. That figure includes $9.7 billion for antimissile operations such as the completion of 14 GMD silos at Fort Greely, Alaska and the acquisition of five more land-based interceptors (see GSN, March 28).
Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said the House committee disregarded strategic military planning decisions. Dempsey said there was no need for a third GMD interceptor site.
"The program of record for ballistic missile defense for the homeland, as we've submitted it, is adequate and sufficient to the task. And that's a suite of ground-based and sea-based interceptors. So I don't see a need beyond what we've submitted in the last budget," the military's top-ranking officer said.
Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said the panel did not offer any alternatives for reducing defense spending elsewhere to account for the additional projects. "There really wasn't anything offered to say here's where we are going to save money," AP quoted the lawmaker as saying.
"They're playing with kind of funny money," Council for a Livable World Executive Director John Isaacs said.
The House of Representatives is anticipated to approve the defense authorization act next week, but there is little expectation the Democrat-led Senate will accept all of its components (Donna Cassata, Associated Press/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 10).
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday accused House lawmakers of jeopardizing the security of the nation by adding unnecessary budget extras to fiscal 2013 defense authorization legislation, the Associated Press reported.