With deliberate intent and less than a week after President Biden and President Putin held face to face talks, seven Russian Warships have deployed 23 miles off the coast of Hawaii. Great Power Competition is in play, and the development and resourcing of Missile Defense to support Great Power Competition is at stake in the Pacific.
Late last month, President Biden submitted his first defense budget – $715 Billion – to Congress, a 2% increase from President Trump’s previous defense budget. The budget had subtle strategic implications by decreasing the Army’s budget, while maintaining the Navy and U.S. Air Force budgets. President Biden functionally maintained the status quo while mandating new reviews in National Security, Nuclear Posture, and Missile Defense, to enable five year budgetary cycles of preferred systems in next year’s budget process.
As the worldwide missile threat continues to rapidly increase in volume and evolve in complexity, President Biden increased the mission sets to the Missile Defense Agency, while at the same time, reduced the Missile Defense Agency’s budget by $230 million to $8.9 billion, a 4% decrease from Congress’ enacted budget from last year.
This flat line budget comes as a number of important new mission sets have emerged for MDA, including: Hypersonic defense, space-based missile detection, homeland cruise missile defense architecture, and Guam (homeland) missile defense architecture. All of these missions align to MDA’s core charter and deserve adequate priority funding. Adding to the investment challenge is the development of the Next Generation Interceptor over the next decade and Aegis BMD modernization within their respective timelines.
Without Congress providing additional funds to MDA’s budget with these added missions, MDA is cannibalizing its own resources and taking increased risk to its existing programs and core functions. For example, $500 million was taken from the Ground Based Missile Defense Midcourse Interceptor system , putting more risk on the existing 44 GBIs that are degrading until the projected NGI is developed, tested, and operationally deployed within the decade.
Hypersonic defense at 247.9 million and Space-based missile warning are the key research, development, testing, and evaluation that in all make up $7.16 billion of the MDA budget as stated by the MDA Director of Operations “of the $8.9 billion FY22 budget request, 80% percent of our budget is for research and development efforts.” This research and development is in alignment with MDA’s charter but comes with a significant risk of reducing procurement of interceptors to the War Fighters that depend on MDA procurement. This increasing gap of procurement demand driven by Warfighter requirements of interceptors is dependent on MDA and has not yet been picked up by the Services.
Added to the challenge of MDA’s reduction in resources, increasing mission sets are inherent rumors of upcoming policy restrictions to eliminate the Under Layer in fear of Great Power instability. This will come at the cost of having the U.S. Homeland less defended from the evolving, proliferating, and increased demonstrations of the ballistic, hypersonic, and cruise missile threats.
More resources must be added to MDA’s top line.
“We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.” — President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, 1961