Defense officials say they are upset by recent comments made to Democratic congressional staffers by Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry A. “Trey” Obering III, director of the Missile Defense Agency.
Gen. Obering was asked during a private meeting with the Democratic staffers on the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee how much of a cut in money for a third missile defense interceptor site in Eastern Europe he could live with.
The three-star general told the staffers that his bottom line was $160 million, a total of $150 million less than President Bush requested for the interceptor site. The site is the focus of U.S.-Russian government wrangling and a target of anti-defense leftists in both Europe and the United States.
A week after the meeting, the subcommittee followed through with Gen. Obering’s bottom line and cut the money out of the defense authorization.
“It’s always interesting to see how money is cut from defense programs, but administration officials like Gen. Obering typically defend the president’s budget request, not the demands of Democrats,” said one specialist on missile defense who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“I guess it doesn’t take much to satisfy the Iranian mullahs and House Democrats but Trey Obering’s figured out how to do it,” the official said.
Asked about Gen. Obering’s meeting with the Democratic staff members, a Missile Defense Agency spokesman said: “Gen. Obering supports the president’s budget request. It is still very early in the budget process, and we will continue to provide information to Congress on the importance of full funding for the radar and interceptor sites in Europe.”