Demo­crat de­fense cuts

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Democrats on the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee last week slashed Pen­tagon fund­ing for U.S. mis­sile-de­fense pro­grams in ways crit­ics say will se­verely harm ef­forts to build an in­te­grated sys­tem to de­fend against mis­sile at­tacks.

A to­tal of $764 mil­lion was cut from the $8.9 bil­lion mis­sile-de­fense bud­get re­quest dur­ing a mark-up hear­ing on the fis­cal 2008 de­fense au­tho­riza­tion bill be­fore the strate­gic forces sub­com­mit­tee, headed by Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat.

The Democrats’ most con­tro­ver­sial cut came in halv­ing money for build­ing a third ground-based in­ter­cep­tor site in Poland and Czech Repub­lic, ef­fec­tively killing plans for the site, ac­cord­ing to Repub­li­can con­gres­sional aides. The sub­com­mit­tee cut $160 mil­lion from the $300 mil­lion re­quest for the third site and called for a study of the site.

Plans for the third in­ter­cep­tor site are the fo­cus of ma­jor U.S. diplo­matic ef­forts to con­vince the Euro­peans of the need to be­gin think­ing about coun­ter­ing the threat from Ira­nian mis­siles. It also comes amid U.S.-Rus­sian ten­sions over Moscow’s fears the in­ter­cep­tors would be used to counter Rus­sian in­tercon­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles, some­thing the Pen­tagon has said re­peat­edly the in­ter­cep­tors are in­ca­pable of do­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to House Repub­li­cans, the Democrats are bi­ased against mis­sile de­fense be­cause they don’t think it will work, and they don’t want a third mis­sile-de­fense site in Europe to up­set the Rus­sians and other anti-de­fense Euro­peans.

The Democrats also don’t think the mis­sile threat from Iran poses a dan­ger to Europe, de­spite the fact that U.S. intelligence agen­cies say Tehran has medium-range mis­sile now ca­pa­ble of hit­ting some parts of Europe and is work­ing on longer-range mis­siles.

The sub­com­mit­tee also slashed $400 mil­lion from the $517 mil­lion bud­get of the ex­otic Air­borne Laser Pro­gram, the most prom­i­nent “boost phase” mis­sile-de­fense sys­tem that uses a laser gun mounted in a Boe­ing 747 to shoot down mis­siles shortly af­ter launch. The cut ef­fec­tively kills the pro­gram, aides said.

The panel also voted to cut $45 mil­lion from the $119 mil­lion re­quested for a mod­ern­ized nu­clear war­head, needed to keep the U.S. nu­clear arse­nal a vi­able de­ter­rent.

Mrs. Tauscher de­fended the mis­sile-de­fense cuts, which likely will be ap­proved by the full com­mit­tee next week, say­ing the coun­try needs a sys­tem that “works.” She crit­i­cized Pen­tagon mis­silede­fense test­ing as un­re­al­is­tic.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.