One little unfriendly missile, conventional or nuclear, is all it would take to rain death, panic and economic devastation upon the United States.
Likely emboldened by looming sequestration incepted by the Obama White House and now hung around the neck of Republicans as if it were a petard of their own making, America’s enemies are moving forward with improved offensive missile capabilities and the ability to attack our homeland.
North Korea recently completed several successful tests demonstrating rapid advances that threaten their neighbors – and us. These include a satellite missile launch, testing an intercontinental missile booster engine and triumphantly igniting an underground nuke.
Iran enjoys robust missile technology trade with North Korea and the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. Yemeni officials recently intercepted an Iranian ship containing Russian anti-aircraft missiles intended for radical Islamists headquartered in Yemen. Hamas and Hezbollah have no qualms about using rockets and missiles against our ally Israel (13,000 since 2001), and Syria uses them against its own people.
Russia is lobbying the Obama administration – with some success – to limit our defensive missile capabilities and conflate “offensive” and “defensive” weapons in global initiatives such as the START treaty. China’s missile arsenal is growing faster than the Pentagon can count.
Our enemies’ missile capacity is expanding rapidly. They are going forward; we are going backward.
Against bolder threats, the White House is diminishing defensive resources through outright cuts and now, sequestration. Our best defense against missile attacks from state or non-state lunatics is some combination of Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs) in Alaska and California and the ship-based Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) program, which creates a protective web of land and sea missile interceptors.
Together, GBIs and SM-3s are what stand between your house and a conventional exploding or nuclear warhead landing on it now and in the future.
Yet since assuming office, Mr. Obama has effectively cut missile defense programs, including GBIs and SM-3s, by nearly $5 billion. Automatic cuts triggered by sequestration would cripple investment in these systems, potentially by billions more. That leaves a really big hole in the sky through which hell could fall.
Politically, sequestration is a creative way to draw money from the defense budget for later use in European socialism-styled big government initiatives, while pitting the GOP (who refuse to pass any budget that contains tax increases with no real spending cuts) against its traditional allies in the military and defense contracting. Sequestration cuts to missile defense kill emerging protection technologies, but would also decrease existing homeland defenses as maintenance of current land and sea-based protections are seriously underfunded.
Key to homeland and deployed forces protection is expanding “battle space” and defensive capacity within it. That is what investment in GBI and SM-3 technology will do – improve the quality of existing capabilities while expanding our safety zone.
The last federal budget was passed four years ago, and Senate Democrats have refused debate on a White House budget since, which is how we arrived at sequestration in the first place. It is hard to stick to a budget when you don’t have one, which may actually be the plan. The president has also ignored sequestration alternatives initiated by House Republicans.
When the Pentagon recently announced 800,000 Defense Department employees across the country may suffer sequestration furloughs, Americans previously disinterested in this weird Roman-sounding word took note. Non-directed, un-prioritized cuts mean real damage to real families and our national defense.
Ballistic missile attack may be the war of the future on American soil. The growing delta between the capacity of foreign hostiles and America’s ability to protect itself means a potential missile attack on the U.S. homeland is not a vague external threat that applies only to Washington insiders. As the administration spends less on homeland defense in inverse proportion to the threat, we are all at risk.
Our SM-3 missile variants IA and IB have proven brilliantly effective in test after test, the most recent a smashing success this month near Hawaii when a medium range missile was successfully destroyed. Investment that improves these current systems is not just a wise defensive action; it’s a moral imperative. The purchase of additional existing IAs and upgraded IBs – set to roll off the production line as soon as next year – is also critical, as military commanders repeatedly express concern that our defensive arsenal is already below capacity.
With homeland defense largely ignored by the administration, the American people and Congress must demand missile defense be treated as a national security priority. We don’t need to merely preserve it – our response to growing threats should be to keep a step ahead.
“Sequester” means to forcibly take enemy property, ostensibly to protect it. Under the White House’s operating definition, the American homeland has become the enemy and we are the ones unprotected.
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Kerri Toloczko is a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom. This article was originally published in The Washington Times.