U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee commented Friday on the decision to place fourteen new missile defense interceptors in Alaska. Four years ago, the Administration determined that the missile threat from countries like North Korea had changed and, parting with established policy, decided to eliminate missiles from the proposed inventory and ‘mothball’ the missile field built to house them. At the time, House Republicans disputed the change in the threat and pressed the Administration not to alter the missile defense strategy or close down vital infrastructure. In testimony before the House, General O’Reilly, then head of the Missile Defense Agency, testified that reactivating “mothballed” silos would cost the taxpayer $200 million.
Reacting to the White House decision, Chairman McKeon said:
“While I am pleased that the Administration is taking this step, given the growth of the ICBM threat, I am disappointed that this is an announcement that has to be made at all. The original decision to divest ourselves of these interceptors was a classic case of looking at threats through politically tinted glasses. Now that the Administration has decided to see clearly, America can get back on the right course; but at a high and unnecessary cost. Hundreds of millions will need to be spent to bring our infrastructure back on line at a time when defense resources are already scarce and our ability to defend against ICBM attack has been needlessly delayed. And, yet again, we have changed paths on our allies, who have backed our policies at great political and military risk. As the administration continues to set their missile defense policy they should be mindful of the high cost of placing political expediency above national security.”
Hagel: U.S. Bolstering Missile Defense
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 – The United States will add more ground-based ballistic missile interceptors to its arsenal to guard against increased threats from North Korea and Iran, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today.
North Korean and Iranian missile capabilities have increased and the United States must stay ahead of that threat, Hagel said. Both have developed longer range ballistic missiles, and North Korea has now conducted three nuclear tests, followed by stepped up threats against the United States and South Korea.
The Pentagon will deploy 14 more ground-based interceptors in locations at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif, Hagel said, boosting the total number from 30 to 44. The added interceptors will provide a nearly 50 percent increase in U.S. missile defense capability, Hagel said.
“The United States has missile defense systems in place to protect us from limited ICBM attacks, but North Korea in particular has recently made advances in its capabilities and is engaged in a series of irresponsible and reckless provocations,” Hagel said.
Last month, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test. In December 2012, the North launched a satellite into orbit, demonstrating an intercontinental ballistic missile capability. In April 2012, Pyongyang also displayed what appeared to be a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile capability.
Hagel also said the United States will team with Japan to deploy an additional advanced radar there. The radar will provide improved early warning and tracking of any missile launched in North Korea at the United States or Japan.
Hagel said DOD is also conducting environmental impact studies for a potential additional interceptor site in the United States. Officials are looking for two sites on the East Coast and one on the West. While the administration has not made a decision on whether to proceed, conducting environmental impact studies will shorten the timeline of construction should a decision be made, he explained. Hagel also announced plans to restructure the SM3-2B program, a land-based standard missile, with plans to deploy it as part of the European phase-adapted approach. “The purpose was to add protection of the U.S. homeland already provided by our current GBIs [ground based interceptors] against missile threats in the Middle East,” Hagel said.
The secretary said shifting resources from the “lagging program” to fund the additional interceptors and kill vehicle technology that will improve performance of the GBI and other versions of the SM3 interceptor allows the U.S. to add protection against missiles from Iran and North Korea sooner.
Hagel reemphasized the United States’ “iron-clad” commitment to missile defense. “The missile deployments the United States is making in phases 1 through 3 of the European phase-adaptive approach, including sites in Poland and Romania, will still be able to provide coverage of all European NATO territory as planned by 2018,” he said.
The overall result will improve the U.S. ability to counter future missile threats from Iran and North Korea while being good stewards of taxpayers’ resources, Hagel said.
“The American people expect us to take every necessary step to protect our security at home and U.S. strategic interests abroad,” he said. “But they expect us to do so in the most efficient and effective manner possible.”