Writing as an empirical observer over a number of years and disclaiming expertise, this commentator continues to manifest concern as to the rather patently obvious Congressional, and occasionally Administration, limited interest in missile defense generally, offshore missile defense more particularly.
The latest, but undoubtedly not the last, such manifestation appears in H.R. 3222, now pending in a conference committee between the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (“Act”). An important threshold point raises its untimely head: The 2008 Fiscal Year runs from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008. Congress obviously should have legislated the Act and sent it to the President for signature well before October 1. However, repeatedly over the years, regardless of which political party has a Congressional majority, Congress, unlike a successful private business, cannot get its act together so as to appropriate on a timely basis.
So much for Congressional ineptitude as to timing. The Act, which would appropriate $459.3 billion, contains a number of items as to which the George W. Bush Administration (which pragmatically means the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget) considers the funding inadequate, excessive and/or misplaced. In this brief Commentary we look at only two, both relating to missile defense.
The Act would reduce money available for missile defense. More specifically, the Act would shave $ 85 million off the appropriation for United States missile defenses in Europe, particularly for construction at what is referred to as the European Third Site, as though there were no threat of a guided missile launched by Iran against the United States.
The Senate version of the Act would appropriate $75 million for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and unmanned aircraft for domestic border security, including $20 million to boost the production rate of the SM-3 interceptor to four per month and another $45 million long-lead production of an additional 15 SM-3s. The remaining $10 million could go to the Aegis Signal Processor and Open Architecture software. Probably unwisely, money would come from another section of the defense budget but perhaps it reflects a (somewhat limited) interest in defense against missiles and offshore missiles.