The US Can’t Afford to Defund Missile Defense

July 13, 2020 Updated: July 15, 2020

Commentary

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, lawmakers have invested trillions of dollars in various efforts to rescue the economy. That has been money well spent. With just about everything shut down, the federal government needed to protect against economic ruin.

But the federal government can’t ignore its other responsibilities. Part of protecting the economy involves protecting the homeland. This also requires spending money, but it’s also worth it.

In that respect, the summer of 2020 will be crucial. Even as the country deals with the pandemic, lawmakers are debating a massive defense spending bill. It includes some topical features, such as measures to rename certain military bases. But the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) also needs to focus on something important: fully funding missile defenses to keep the country safe.

There are many missile defense technologies, but the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program is the only technology that’s capable of protecting the homeland from intercontinental missile attack. GMD represents an insurance policy of sorts. It’s a last line of defense against potential nuclear attack.

As part of the NDAA, Congress needs to fund GMD this year. It simply can’t afford to try to “save” money by not investing in effective missile defenses.

GMD is especially effective because it’s the only defense that’s focused on missiles when they’re moving at their slowest speeds, in space. Other systems try to stop missiles when they’re already on the way down and, thus, are moving much more quickly. That means GMD can provide blanket coverage for the entire country even though there are only a few dozen GMD sites in existence.

The Pentagon had to scrap the Raytheon-steered Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) that was to replace and update the existing Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), because of technical problems and cost overruns; therefore, they need to jump-start the manufacturing and testing of a new weapon to stop incoming missiles. The missile defense program has been a success, and it’s important to continue to update technology to protect the homeland.

And while nobody saw COVID-19 coming, everyone realizes that an attack with missiles remains all too possible. This has been obvious for years, in fact.

“In the late 1990s, North Korea demonstrated significant progress on its nuclear and ballistic missile program, particularly in its ability to strike the U.S. homeland,” the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance wrote in 2019.

“In response to the emerging North Korean threat, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which prohibited the deployment of new ballistic missile defense capabilities.”

It would be madness to reduce funding for GMD now, as the North Korean threat is actually growing worse. Not to mention the threat from Iran, another U.S. enemy that’s eager to develop these weapons. We can’t afford to be vulnerable.

GMD has worked in its various testing phases and has successfully intercepted and destroyed an intercontinental ballistic missile during a live-fire test. There’s no way to know whether it would work against an actual missile attack, but by passing tests it has given us a realistic hope it would succeed.

Furthermore, why would an enemy try to attack us knowing we have a defense system in place? The attack would be a suicide mission, because the United States could destroy the attacking weapon, and would be certain to retaliate with overwhelming force. GMD works simply by being in existence.

Before COVID-19, the federal government was taking sensible steps to expand GMD.

“Boeing was awarded a $265.2 million contract modification for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense anti-ballistic missile system,” UPI reported in December. “The modification increases the total value of the contract to $11.2 billion from a previous value of $10.9 billion.”

Now, lawmakers need to stay on that trajectory and fully fund our defenses. The GMD system needs more interceptors, better hardware, and ever-more testing.

This summer, even as they remain socially distant, lawmakers need to come together and agree to pass an NDAA that supports missile defense. It’s an important step in protecting the homeland.

Greg Young (USAF-Ret.) is host of the nationally syndicated “Chosen Generation” radio show. He served as a Russian Linguist in the USAF. For more information, visit ChosenGenerationRadio.com.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.