Providing for the Common Defense: A Call to Restore Funding to U.S. Missile Defense
by THE EDITORS
January 26, 2010
Editor’s note: The following is the text of a letter sent by the Committee on the Present Danger to President Obama, members of the Senate and members of the House regarding critical changes to America’s missile defense that will likely threaten American safety and security.
January 21, 2010
President Barack Obama
cc: Members of the United States Senate
cc: Members of the United States House of Representatives
Dear Mr. President:
We, the undersigned members of the Committee on the Present Danger, write to express our deep concern over the scope and nature of the Obama Administration's missile defense program. Since taking office, the new Administration has put into place changes to America's ballistic missile defense policy that we believe will threaten the safety and security of the United States.
Since last spring, the White House has cut some $1.4 billion from programs within the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. In doing so, it has terminated a number of promising programs, among them the Airborne Laser, the Multiple Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor. All these programs intercepted missiles in early flight and were an important hedge against future offensive missile threats. It has also limited the U.S.-based missile interceptors in Alaska and California to 30 instead of 44, which are currently our only defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles.
It likewise ended a European "third site" of ground-based defenses, including interceptors and radar, in Poland and the Czech Republic. The latter deployment of 10 missiles, contrary to many claims, was designed to shoot down longer range rockets from Iran, including those capable of reaching both central Europe and the continental United States, as a supplement to the U.S.- based systems. Our other theater missile defense systems, such as THAAD, Patriot and the Aegis-based Standard Missile, numbering close to 1,000 interceptors when current acquisition plans reach fruition, were acquired over the past decade and were scheduled to be simultaneously deployed. These systems have not been designed to shoot down longer range rockets, especially those of intercontinental range.
The Navy's Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), however, has that inherent potential, given relatively inexpensive software modifications and other feasible improvements – as was discussed in the Committee's July 15, 2005 report on Missile Defense for the 21st Century. This fact was demonstrated almost two years ago when, within a few weeks, the then-deployed SM-3 was given the ability to shoot down a dying satellite moving above the Earth's atmosphere at a higher velocity than an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Thus, the Committee welcomes the Administration's increased SM-3 funding and urges it to make the needed modifications, including the interlinking of key sensors, to begin giving the SM-3 at least a limited capability against ICBMs within the next three years.
The Committee views as shortsighted the current White House plan to stretch out the timeline for deploying advanced sea-based interceptors until the year 2020, some seven years after the previously scheduled European 3rd site, when a limited capability could be deployed by the end of 2012 and then be improved. In addition, air-based defenses using current U.S. aircraft and modified air-to-air missiles have not received the full-up funding that would allow both NATO and the U.S. homeland to be protected, particularly against EMP-type attacks. By deferring a full and more effective defense of the U.S. homeland until that time, we are giving our adversaries a green light to use ballistic missiles for coercion or blackmail.
Especially profound is the recent decision to move away from the "system of systems" approach of the past decade, in which multiple, interconnected anti-missile systems would seek to intercept enemy missiles in all phases of flight from the ground, sea and air. Instead, the new plan focuses overwhelmingly on improving one technology, the SM-3 interceptor missile. (The two-stage ground-based interceptor previously scheduled for deployment in Poland by 2013 remains a potential backup but at a very low level of funding.)
The adoption of such a policy also assumes that America's adversaries (such as North Korea and Iran), will not develop long-range rockets until the end of the next decade. Current intelligence, such as the May 2009 USAF report, projects Iran to have an ICBM or intercontinental ballistic missile capability by 2015. In light of the pursuit by Tehran and Pyongyang of nuclear weapons, the additional defense of the U.S. homeland, (as well as our allies and military forces overseas), is imperative.
For these reasons, and others, we write to urge you in the strongest terms not only to assure robust funding for early deployment of an advanced SM-3, but also to restore full funding for the previous "systems of systems" approach and to accord this area of U.S. defense policy the highest priority on the national security agenda. Only in that way will the American people be provided the common defense our Constitution demands.
Members of the Committee on the Present Danger:
Hon. George Shultz, (co-Chairman) former Secretary of State; Hon. R. James Woolsey, (co-Chairman) former Director of Central Intelligence
Ilan Berman, Vice President, American Foreign Policy Council; Peter Brookes, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs; Hon. Henry Cooper, Director, Strategic Defense Initiative and former Chief U.S. Negotiator, Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union; Jack David, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Hon. Richard Fairbanks, former Ambassador-at-Large and Special Negotiator for the Middle East Peace Process; Hon. Frank Gaffney, Director, Center for Security Policy; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces; Peter Hannaford, member, CPD board of directors, author; public affairs executive; Peter
Huessy, President, GeoStrategic Analysis; Phyllis Kaminsky, former Press Officer, National Security Council and former Director of Office of Public Liaison, USIA and Voice of America; Hon. Max Kampelman, former Ambassador and Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Negotiations with the Soviet Union on Nuclear and Space Arms; former Ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe; John Kester, former Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense; Dana M. Marshall, former Senior Advisor for International Economic Affairs to the Vice President; Clifford May, President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Hon. Edwin Meese III, former U.S. Attorney General; Chet Nagle, former senior civilian in the Department of Defense's International Security Affairs department; Norman Podhoretz, author, former Editor, Commentary; Sol W. Sanders, former International Editor, BusinessWeek; Randy Scheunemann; Kenneth Schwartz, board of directors, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Peter Schweizer, author, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Hon. John H. Shenefield, former Associate Attorney General of the United States; Former Chairman of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security; Max Singer, founder and Senior Fellow of The Hudson Institute; Jeffrey D. Stein, CEO, Peyton Investments, Inc.; James Strock, former California Secretary for Environmental Protection; Raymond Tanter, President Iran Policy Committee, former staff member National Security Council; William VanCleave, Professor Emeritus, Defense and Strategic Studies, Missouri State University; Member, Department of State International Security Advisory Board and the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Council; Francis Wong, Professor of international relations, political science; attorney; James G. Zumwalt, Former Senior Advisor, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.