NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009 -- (Senate - September 10, 2008)
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Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to support Senator Vitter's amendment to authorize the additional $271 million which is fully offset--it is fully offset--to the Missile Defense Agency.
The importance of missile defense is increasingly crucial to the safety of the United States and our allies. The United States must maintain the capability to respond to near-term ballistic missile threats that present grave danger to the United States, our deployed forces, and our allies.
We know that rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea will have the capability to use nuclear weapons. We cannot escape the fact that this widespread proliferation of ballistic missile technologies makes it increasingly possible for dangerous States and terrorist organizations to obtain and use them for harm.
We are in a crucial time in our Nation's history and we should understand the importance of defense of the homeland. I am frustrated that as other nations continue to develop nuclear programs, that as Russia has demonstrated a renewed capacity for aggression, that as China and North Korea press forward on missile technology, the Armed Services Committee cut more than $411 million from the administration's request for the Missile Defense Agency's program.
The United States has worked hard to reach agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland to establish ballistic missile defense radar sites. This was a monumental and important step in our efforts to protect the United States as well as our NATO allies from the growing threat by the proliferation of ballistic missiles. Radar will provide precision tracking of ballistic missiles launched out of the Middle East and will be linked to other U.S. missile defense facilities in Europe and the United States. Cuts to our missile defense program simply undermine this progress and signals to NATO that the United States is backing away from our commitments to a European missile defense.
This amendment will authorized $54 million to accelerate and upgrade an additional two Aegis cruisers to equip with ballistic missile defense systems.
Admiral Hicks, program director for Aegis BMD, recently stated the need for additional Atlantic fleet ships for defense of the United States, our allies, and our deployed forces.
The amendment will authorize an additional $100 million for THAAD fire units interceptor and ground component advanced procurement. It will authorize an additional $30 million to reduce SM-3 schedule and technical risk. This is the premier missile defense cooperation program with our Japanese allies. And it will authorize $87 million for a target spare and to maintain minimal inventory as contingency for additional short notice test events for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense. This is Missile Defense Agency's top unfunded priority. The SASC Committee report notes that for some MDA systems the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation requires additional tests to prove out capabilities, which necessitates additional target sets.
There is no doubt that the United States will continue to face missile threats. Missile defense is needed and should have been made a priority of this committee and by this Senate. I thank Senator VITTER for bringing this amendment to the floor, and I urge this Senate to vote yes.