Chairman Rogers’ Opening Statement: Fiscal Year 2016 Missile Defense Hearing

March 19, 2015


WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces made the following opening statement for today’s hearing entitled “Fiscal Year 2016 Missile Defense Hearing”.

“We have a full morning ahead of us on the increasingly important subject of ballistic missile defense.
We have an esteemed panel here today to discuss the missile defense threat and U.S. responses to it:

•    Mr. Brian P. McKeon
Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Department of Defense

•    Admiral Bill Gortney, USN
North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command

•    Vice Admiral James Syring, USN
Missile Defense Agency

•    Lieutenant General David L. Mann, USA
Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense

I want to make a couple of quick comments and then I will yield to my good friend, the gentleman from that Yankee state of Tennessee for any statement he may wish to make.

First, I want to thank you all for taking the time to testify today.  I know it takes time, and you all have busy jobs.  But, as we prepare to write the FY16 NDAA, your testimony will help us make some very important decisions about what programs we fund and what policies we set in place.

Second, I want to state my support for many of the priorities in this year’s budget submission.  I am pleased to see, for example, the roughly $700 million increase this year for our Ground-based Midcourse Defense system.  We have only one ballistic missile defense system capable of defending the homeland.  It’s about time we fund it properly.

Admiral Syring, you inherited a mess in the GMD system when you took over at MDA.  I think I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that you have rebuilt our trust in this system.  I cannot overstate how grateful we all are for your service.

I hope when you leave here today and go home tonight, you will pass on to your family a great big “thank you” from us as well – we know that you don’t serve alone.  Your kids and wife serve with you.  If your wife is anything like mine, I’m sure she’s a six star Admiral!

Admiral Gortney, Lt. Gen. Mann, the same goes to you and your families.  You have our respect, appreciation and gratitude.

Mr. McKeon, we also appreciate your civilian service.

But I have concerns with this budget as well.  While this year’s budget is good, an improvement from recent years, I note it collapses in the out-years.

As a plan, I’m not sure I agree that the cruise and ballistic missile threat to the United States, our deployed forces, and our allies will get better in the next five years.

Likewise, I was deeply troubled by the November 2014 Memo to the Secretary of Defense signed by the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Chief of Naval Operations concerning our missile defense capabilities.

This memo represents the kinds of things many of us have been worried about because of Sequestration.  Core missions, like missile defense, are becoming difficult to sustain.

Our Aegis ships, THAAD batteries, and Patriot Batteries, are expensive commitments to regional security.  That is true.  I agree with former-Secretary Hagel that our current BMD policy is sound.

To the services I say “missile defense is a core mission; it is not a nice to have, it is a must do.”
But we must get you budget relief so that this core mission, and all of your other core missions, are executable.  ”