State continues to define missile defense

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, August 20, 2009

For nearly 60 years, since Dr. Wernher Von Braun first began developing rockets for the U.S. Army, north Alabama has been the epicenter of our nation’s missile defense efforts.

Now home to the Missile Defense Agency, Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Materiel Command, and the Missile and Space Intelligence Center, Huntsville has consistently demonstrated its vital role in the research and development of hit-to-kill missile technology.

Indeed, it was 25 years ago that the Army first successfully intercepted a missile with another missile.

This accomplishment was once thought impossible, but the perseverance and intelligence of the Huntsville space, defense and engineering community demonstrated a level of achievement that would be replicated many times over in the years to come.

Huntsville’s efforts have undoubtedly enhanced the safety and security of our nation against threats from rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea.

In the wake of several recent missile tests in North Korea, now is not the time to curtail these efforts. We must do more.

The current administration’s budget proposal reduces or eliminates several key programs critical to our national missile defense efforts.

The reduction of Ground-based Midcourse Defense funding and the termination of both the Kinetic Energy Interceptor and Multiple Kill Vehicle programs are clearly the wrong steps to take at the wrong time.

Without question, we simply cannot roll back the progress we have made when our enemies are advancing their missile and nuclear capabilities.

Today, there are 27 countries that have ballistic missile capability. Iran, China and Pakistan have all tested their capabilities in an effort to show the world that they too have achieved a certain level of missile technology.

More importantly, North Korea not only tested several missiles in April, but detonated a nuclear weapon in May.

These examples vividly illustrate the overarching reason the United States needs a strong missile defense system-the threat of a missile strike is real.

North Korea’s clear act of aggression should strengthen our resolve for a stronger national security strategy.

We have made great strides over the past decade in numerous areas due in large part to the work of those in Alabama.

Taking away from these efforts only reduces the level of protection afforded to the citizens of our country.

Missile defense is critical to our national defense, and we must continue to develop an integrated, layered defense, especially in light of very real and ongoing threats around the world.