from The Corner:
Some Leadership in the Senate [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Monday, April 06, 2009
Bipartisan Group of Senators Oppose Cuts in Missile Defense:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), along with Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mark Begich (D-AK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) today sent the following letter to President Obama calling for full funding of U.S. missile defense programs:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
We write to urge you not to allow deep cuts in U.S. missile defense programs that are critically important to protecting our homeland and our allies against the growing threat of ballistic missiles.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates today announced plans to cancel or reduce such major programs as the Airborne Laser, Multiple Kill Vehicle, and the installation of additional Ground-Based Interceptor missiles in Alaska, and cut the MDA’s budget for Fiscal Year 2010 by $1.4 billion. Although we applaud Secretary Gates’ commitment to such capabilities THAAD and SM-3, these proposals would amount to almost a fifteen percent cut in the MDA budget and a major reduction in our missile defense portfolio—actions that we fear could undermine our emerging missile defense capabilities to protect the United States against a growing threat.
As you know, the threat from ballistic missiles is significant and on the rise. Lieutenant General Daniel Maples, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that “the threat posed by ballistic missile delivery systems is likely to increase while growing more complex over the next decade.” General Maples further warned that “adversary nations are increasingly adopting technical and operational countermeasures to defeat missile defenses.” Ballistic missile technology has already proliferated worldwide and is a direct threat to both our allies and our homeland.
The threat posed by rogue states with ballistic missiles has been underscored by Iran and North Korea’s recent missile tests. In early February, Iran launched a satellite atop a rocket that could be used as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Last weekend, North Korea tested the Taepo Dong-2, a long range missile that if successful, could have the range to strike Hawaii, Alaska, and possibly the West Coast of the United States.
Although these developments highlight the danger we face, they have also revealed the progress our national missile defense system has made. When recently asked before the Senate Armed Services Committee whether the United States could intercept a Taepo Dong-2 missile that targeted the American homeland, Admiral Timothy Keating, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and General Patrick Chilton, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, assured that we can do so with high probability. This would not have been the case just a few years ago, and is only the case today because we have invested in a diverse set of missile defense capabilities.