By Libby Casey
The Obama Administration has finished a review of missile defense that includes plans for Fort Greely in Delta Junction. The first-ever Ballistic Missile Defense Review was made public this week. It offers no surprises and continues the Administration’s current direction.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, welcomed its completion yesterday:
This is the first comprehensive strategy and policy for MD and it is long overdue.
Levin criticized the Bush Administration for not testing missile defense more thoroughly before deploying it. The new report calls for rigorous testing and says back in 2002 the program was put into place at the same time it was developed in order to install it quickly. But the Obama Administration says it wants to have more research under its belt before spending money to prevent waste.
Senator Levin applauded that:
The Missile Defense Review Report says that in contrast to the practice over the last decade of fielding missile defense capabilities that were still being developed, that the administration, quote, “…will take a different approach, best described as fly before you buy, which will result in a posture based on proven technology in order to improve reliability, confidence and costs control.” And that’s a welcome change.
Last year President Obama called for cuts to missile defense spending and proposed scrapping completion of a second missile field at Fort Greely… but Alaska’s delegation was able to convince the administration to change its mind. It is moving forward on completing Field 2, and the new report affirms that plan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured Senator Mark Begich yesterday that the budget includes funding for the project.
However the Defense Department says it does not currently foresee a need for more deployed interceptors at Fort Greely beyond that.
Begich and other members of the Armed Services Committee heard testimony yesterday from Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen about military reports and the President’s budget plans.
Gates reaffirmed his belief that Fort Greely’s ground-based interceptors can defend against attack.
We believe that those interceptors give us the capability to deal with launches from either Iran or North Korea, a small-scale threat.
The Defense Department is seeking 10 billion dollars in Fiscal Year 2011 for ballistic missile defense programs, including more than 1-point-3 billion dollars to continue the development and test program for the ground-based interceptors.