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Obama’s Missile Defense Madness

He's diverted funding from a weapon three years away to one we may never see.

by
Peter Roff

Bio

March 7, 2012 - 12:00 am
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There are currently three different types of interceptor missiles that are deployed or under development by the U.S. Department of Defense: the SM-3 Block I-A, I-B, and II-A. Block I-A is already in limited use by the U.S. and Japanese navies. Block I-B, the next step in the evolution of the SM-3 missile — which many defense experts believe will provide the first line of defense against a long-range Iranian attack on the continental United States — is slated to go into production in 2013. The third variant, Block II-A, could be deployed by 2018.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, wants to take resources away from these missiles and devote them to something that today is only a concept. Known as Block II-B, it would be the most ambitious missile in the SM-3 family. And according to best estimates it would not be ready for deployment until 2020.

It is something of a mystery as to why the Obama budget, over the objections of Congress, has shifted half the funding for the Block I-B design — which could protect the U.S. against Iran by 2015 — to the Block II-B, which is still just an idea that would not be ready, at best, for another eight years.

The threat, as DOD has amply demonstrated, is very real. Congress has recognized this and in previous years has tried to put the anti-ballistic missile development funding where it will do the most good — not necessarily towards the “best” missile but into programs where it will do the most good and provide the protection the country needs.

The Obama administration, in its budget document, has headed in the other direction, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good and leaving the nation undefended against a threat we can see coming: Iranian missiles in Venezuela would be just as bad as Soviet missiles in Cuba.

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Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. A former senior political writer for United Press International, he is currently a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty and at Let Freedom Ring, a non-partisan public policy organization.
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