Yesterday, members of the House Armed Service Committee, under the leadership of Representative Michael Turner (R–OH) increased the funding for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program in the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget. Members of the committee decided to increase the funding for this program by $100 million above the Obama Administration’s $1.2 billion request.
By taking this step, the committee attempted to remedy an almost 15 percent cut from the missile defense program in the FY 2010 compared to the FY 2009 level that would have left the United States vulnerable to a ballistic missile threat. The GMD is the only operationally deployed system protecting the U.S. homeland against a threat of long-range ballistic missile strikes, particularly from Iran and North Korea, in the future.
Despite this unique capability, the Obama Administration decided to cap the number of ground-based interceptors (GBIs) in the U.S. at 30 instead of the 44 originally proposed by President Bush. In addition, the Obama Administration reversed the decision to deploy 10 two-stage GBIs in Poland, which opens a window of vulnerability in Europe if the Iranian ballistic missile program progresses earlier than expected.
This is a 44 percent reduction in the U.S. ability to protect itself and its allies against a long-range threat. This reduction comes at a time when Iran and North Korea continue to improve the range, accuracy, and payload of their ballistic missiles.
The President’s budget request for the GMD is inadequate because it reduces funding for the program by $185 million from the requested level for the current fiscal year. The Administration also plans to further limit the funding for the GMD beyond FY 2012.
The action of the committee is a step in the right direction for the defense of the U.S. homeland at a time when the long-range ballistic missile capabilities of China, Russia, and rogue states are expanding. In fact, the GMD program could be restored more effectively with funding levels that are about $100 million higher than the additional funding provided by the House Armed Services Committee.
Instead of pushing back and rapidly increasing funding for the protection of the U.S. homeland and its allies, the Obama Administration opted to sign New START, a strategic nuclear reduction forces treaty with the Russian Federation. This treaty limits the U.S. missile defense option in at least five different areas. The most dangerous of these limitations is the linkage between strategic offensive and defensive forces in the preamble of the treaty. The preamble asserts that the defenses will otherwise “undermine the viability and effectiveness” of Russia’s offensive strategic force. This will give the Russians opportunity to object and threaten to withdraw from the treaty when the U.S. expands its ballistic missile defense capability.
Congress is in the best position to remedy shortcomings stemming from President Obama’s ballistic missile defense policies. After all, to “provide for the common defense” is its only constitutionally mandated obligation.