Washington, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, senior Republican on the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, today released the following opening statement for the subcommittee's hearing on the Administration's 2008 budget request for missile defense programs:
"Thank you, Madam Chairman. I join you in welcoming our guests: Lieutenant General Obering, Lieutenant General Campbell, Dr. McQueary and Mr. Green.
"Thank you all for your leadership and service to our nation. Please also extend our thanks to the many men and women at your respective organizations for their dedication and hard-work.
"As we begin our discussion on our nation's missile defense posture and budget request, I will note that missile defense has not always received broad bipartisan support. In fact, during last year's floor debate on the defense bill, an amendment was offered to cut the Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) budget by half.
"However, missile defense has enjoyed bipartisan support in this subcommittee. I thank the Chairman for making her first subcommittee trip to Huntsville to focus on missile defense.
"This subcommittee also has a strong history of working through areas where we may disagree. We ask tough questions and approach issues with thought and rigor. We respect each others' opinions and recognize that at the end of the day, we are here because we believe we must do all we can to increase our nation's security.
"In framing missile defense, it is important to reflect upon the events of the last year.
· Ø "On July 4th, North Korea launched six short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, capable of reaching our forward deployed forces and Allies, and one longer-range Taepo-Dong II missile, potentially capable of reaching Hawaii and the Western U.S.
· Ø "Three months later, North Korea tested a nuclear device.
· Ø "Iran continues to develop and test short- and medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel and Europe. This includes a space launch vehicle that could provide a cover for developing longer-range missiles.
· Ø "Iran also continues efforts to enrich uranium, in defiance of the U.N. Security Council.
· Ø "World-wide proliferation of missile technology also continues.
· Ø "Lastly, two months ago China conducted an anti-satellite test using a medium-range ballistic missile.
"The threat is clearly at hand. While I continue to support a measured approach to testing, I strongly believe we cannot afford to slow down the development and fielding of those near-term missile defense elements critical to our nation's defense. I also firmly believe we must extend this protective cover to our Allies and friends.
"This year's Missile Defense Agency budget request is 8.9 billion dollars. This is a decrease from last year and already reflects a reduction of a half-billion dollars.
"Though the ground-based midcourse defense system in Alaska and California is the flagship capability in our nation's national missile defense system, I would like to note the breadth of capabilities being funded within MDA's budget request:
· Ø "Aegis BMD, including work with Japan;
· Ø "Arrow development with Israel;
· Ø "THAAD;
· Ø "Ground-based early warning radars;
· Ø "A global command and control network;
· Ø "Several space programs;
· Ø "Airborne Laser and KEI; and
· Ø "A test program consisting of 25 flight and ground tests planned for fiscal year 2008.
"General Obering, I would like to highlight a few specific areas that I am interested in hearing about today:
· Ø "Last year this committee exerted its strong preference for fielding near-term missile defense capabilities. Please describe how this year's budget reflects that Congressional guidance.
· Ø "Also in last year's bill, Congress provided resources for concurrent test, training, and operations. I look forward to hearing how this has progressed.
"General Campbell, I believe this is the first time you have appeared before us-thank you for coming. I ask you to discuss:
· Ø "Your role as the Joint Functional Component Commander for STRATCOM, and your relationship with MDA and the Services.
· Ø "How you ensure the combatant commanders' missile defense needs are met. The PACOM and U.S. Forces Korea commanders recently testified before the full committee stating their need for more Patriot PAC-3 and Aegis BMD inventories, and continued development of THAAD.
"Dr. McQueary, I am interested in your assessment of MDA's end-to-end testing. What areas are progressing well and where do you see a need for improvement?
"Lastly, Mr. Green, I am interested in hearing your perspective on:
· Ø "Whether the threat events of the past year have modified our approach to missile defense; and
· Ø "The status of our engagement with our international partners in cooperative missile defense.
· Ø "As the Chairman noted, the European missile defense site is a key issue this year. We must understand how this site benefits our security and what we're doing to engage our European friends.
"Again, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to be with us today. I look forward to your testimony."