Congressman Michael Turner on Missile Defense
Representative Michael Turner, a Republican Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, spoke about the subcommittee’s upcoming hearing on missile defense testing. An excerpt:
“As we begin our discussion on missile defense testing, we should start by establishing a baseline of where we are today. The missile defense capability our nation has fielded today consists of—26 ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, 18 Aegis missile defense ships, 13 Patriot battalions, 5 radar tracking systems, and command and control systems.
“As I have learned from intelligence analysts at NASIC, in my home district, the threat doesn’t wait for us to perfect our defenses. If, for example, North Korea were to launch a long-range Taepo-Dong missile tomorrow, we could use this system to protect the American people, our forces abroad, and allies. As Secretary Gates recently suggested, the Pentagon was prepared to use its missile defense capabilities to bring down a North Korean missile if necessary.
“Having this missile defense capability today as an option is the direct result of U.S. leadership, and the hard work and dedication of a strong government and industry team.
“Both the Chairman and I agree that our missile defense assets must be effective and credible. I was particularly interested in Mr. Mitchell’s written statement that, “our nation’s ballistic missile defense capability cannot be disregarded today and will provide an even more effective defense in the future.” Therefore, continued testing to increase the effectiveness, credibility, and flexibility of an already deployed system against evolving threats is a commitment we all make.
“A common misconception about missile defense is that the technology doesn’t work and tests are not realistic. A good starting point for us here today is to better understand the progress made to-date. What is the state of our missile defense capabilities? As I understand it, the Missile Defense Agency is reviewing their test plans and there is good alignment between them and the test community in this process. I am interested in hearing more about what our test objectives are, how assessments are made, where gaps and shortfalls exist, and how the rebaselined test program should address these.”