Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Missile Defense in the Obama Budget

One of the top recommendations for the Obama administration from a recent Center report was to condition further deployment of the third missile defense site in Europe on tests that prove the system actually works. President Obama agreed during his campaign that deployment of missile defense should be postponed until proven effective. He said in 2007, " If we can responsibly deploy missile defenses that would protect us and our allies, we should — but only when the system works…The Bush administration has in the past exaggerated missile defense capabilities and rushed deployments for political purposes."

In a report released yesterday, the Center's Travis Sharp predicts what this might mean for missile defense in the FY2009 budget. He predicts a loss of funding for the program, and lists missile defense among four weapons systems likely to see budget cuts in 2009. (Alongside missile defense are the F-22 Raptor, the DDG-1000 destroyer, and Future Combat Systems.)

In the absence of this year's budget release on the usual first Monday in February, we don't know, of course, what Obama's request actually is. But Travis's report – which documents the skyrocketing recent growth in defense spending, catalogs calls for budget cuts by key policymakers, and looks at the complicated procedure the fiscal year 2010 budget is set to follow - provides a good appetizer for all those who are eager to see what's on Obama's full budget plate.

Excerpt below, and full report available on the Center website.

Technical experts, budget analysts, and military strategists have debated the pros and cons of missile defense for decades. In the past few years, Congress repeatedly has reduced funding for expensive and unproven missile defense technologies aimed at countering future long-range threats and reallocated it toward higher priority systems aimed at existing short- and medium-range missiles.

The final FY 2009 base budget provided $10.5 billion for missile defense research and development, military construction, and procurement. The final appropriation rearranged funding among various ballistic missile defense program elements and was $328 million less than the Bush administration’s request. Within the $10.5 billion, Congress provided $618 million for research and development and military construction on the missile defense system in Europe, a $94 million reduction from the Bush administration’s request.

Given these preferences, Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD), Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) (funded by the Army, not the Missile Defense Agency), and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) may pass muster in 2009. These programs protect U.S. troops in the field from theater ballistic missiles, a far more realistic threat than long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Full report available here.


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Hot Tubs said...

This is what they are spending our money on?