Much like the long-standing entitlement threat, the special protection MEADS has garnered amongst its few remaining congressional allies is not a recent development. In fact, despite receiving funding for nearly two decades, the program has yet to produce a missile that has passed all the same Army tests as the updated, much more cost-efficient Patriot missile. This delinquency all for the bargain price of more than $2 billion more than was originally estimated.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have admitted the country can hardly afford to throw more money into the MEADS black hole. Top Army brass has protested prolonging the program. The only obstacle to zeroing out this kind of waste remains politicians for whom this decades-old earmark is a testament to skillful Washington back-scratching.
Another round of sequester cuts are scheduled to take place in January, and the Defense Department needs to start identifying how the budget can be trimmed. The durable reforms Dempsey mentioned won’t be revealed until next year’s budget is introduced, and won't count against the Department’s sequester obligation. That leaves the political class’s hallowed weapons projects on the chopping block. MEADS should be the first to go.