Not too many years ago, many optimistically argued that the world was becoming, or would shortly become, a safer place. They said the United States had “reset” its relationship with Russia. It was argued that sanctions and diplomacy would stop Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons and Islamic State forces had yet to sweep the Middle East and destabilize Syria and Iraq. New leadership, they said, would make us more popular around the globe and thus less at risk. In that unrealistically optimistic climate, our national resolve to develop, build and maintain a robust missile defense seemed to wane. Recent events demonstrate the fallacy of that unrealistic and naively optimistic view.
Missile threats around the world only continue to grow. There a number of unstable regions—the Middle East, Russia, Ukraine, China, and North Korea—in the world that pose potential threats to U.S. security, our warfighters and allies and partners.
Now more than ever, it’s clear we must to continue to invest in missile defense improvements to help our combatant commanders and warfighters at home and abroad. One key to protecting our troops overseas is the Patriot Missile System.
Employed by the United States Army and 11 allied nations, the Patriot Missile System provides four critical functions: communications, command and control, radar surveillance and missile guidance. Together, they combine to provide a coordinated, secure, integrated, mobile air defense system that is critical to our deployed troops.
When first deployed during the 1991 Gulf War, Patriot’s ability to shoot incoming missiles out of the sky stunned the nation and its enemies. Its success proved beyond a shadow of a doubt – despite the claims of naysayers who derided attempts to construct a defensive shield against offensive ballistic missiles – that you could “hit a bullet with a bullet.”
The concept worked in action then and has been improved upon now. The U.S. Army is committed to the Patriot through 2048; it’s important therefore to make sure its technology stays ahead of the emerging threats. By approving a plan that provides for consistent modernization of the Patriot missile system, Congress would save the costs of developing a new missile defense system and put the United States on equal footing with 11 of our allies around the globe – five of whom are members of NATO and all of whom plan to use it for some time – as well as others who are on the front lines of the current threats to regional peace.
Oddly, one single Congressional committee of jurisdiction – the Senate Appropriations Committee – has opted to cut Patriot modernization funding. Instead of funding the amount requested by military leaders, the Senate Appropriations slashed Patriot funding, a move that could cost American taxpayers money and significantly delay modernization of the system and leave our warfighters vulnerable.
The time to move ahead with Patriot modernization is now. It is a necessary component of the United State’s ability to defend itself and to protect U.S. troops in the field. By allowing the program to move forward, Congress will send a strong signal that our commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance remains strong, that we are not pulling back behind our natural borders and that we remain strong in our defense of freedom. America must always project strength. Projecting strength is, as Washington said, “the most effective means of preserving peace.”
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If you would like more information on the Patriot Missile or any of the work Frontiers of Freedom does on Missile Defense, please contact Travis Korson at [email protected].