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Senate Missile Defense Strategy Strikes Right Balance

In a piece in The Hill’s Congress Blog, I pointed out that,

If Congress doesn’t set its defense priorities clearly, there is a risk that the the budget cutting super-committee will slash military spending in a way that will hamper our ability to defend against real and near-term threats to the United States, our allies, and interests.

Fortunately, the Senate Appropriations Committee has come up with a model for maintaining a strong defense in budget cutting times.

The plan reigns in long-term spending on a wish-list item, a yet-to-be-developed missile system, while redirecting a portion of the savings to fund an adequate supply of proven missiles that defend against the most immediate threats facing the country.

In the piece, I explain that,

The Senate committee is seeking to achieve cost savings by zeroing out funding for the pie-in-the-sky Standard Missile Block II-B,  while redirecting a portion of the savings to invest in supplying the military with the IB and IIA generation ship-based Standard Missile 3 (SM 3) systems needed right now.

The approach will give the military the weapons it needs to protect us from growing threats of both Iran and North Korea.

Strategic experts are concerned that the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq will further entice Iran to continue its belligerent behavior, with an eye towards filling the power vacuum in Iraq.

In addition, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reported to Congress in February that North Korea’s nuclear and missile weapons programs are a threat to the United States by threatening our allies in the region. He further warned that North Korea is arming Iran and Syria with ballistic missiles. North Korea’s ballistic missile threat is real, destabilizing, and is not going away anytime soon.

Now it is up to the House to consider whether to follow the Senate model.

The House should take note of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s responsible bi-partisan approach and adopt it when negotiators merge the House and Senate defense spending bills later this year. This would cut spending, while still providing for critical defenses to immediate and near-term threats, by deploying more SM-3 IA’s while continuing work on even newer generation missiles already in development.



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