Earlier this week our Congress heard the first testimony this year on missile defense. The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces held a hearing with Lt. General Obering (Director of the Missile Defense Agency), Lt. General Dodgen (Commanding General U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and U.S. Army Forces Strategic Command) and David Duma (Acting Director, Operational Test and Evaluation).
The most significant message that came out of the testimony was the lack of divisiveness on the issue of missile defense and the strengthening of a bi-partisan consensus on the support for missile defense. The ranking Democratic minority member Silvestre Reyes’s (TX) opening statement, the absence throughout the hearing of one of the strongest Democratic critics of missile defense Rep. Tauscher (CA) as well as the non-debate of another strong Democratic missile defense critic Rep. Sanchez (CA) added to the shifting perception of missile defense.
Selected quotes from Rep. Reyes’s hearing remarks on 3/15/05:
“On my side of the aisle, we do not have as much consensus on a national missile defense system as does your side, Mr. Chairman. Fair enough. But somehow, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, there is a widespread perception that all Democrats oppose missile defense, especially a national missile defense system. That is flat-out wrong.�?
“?It is the policy of the United States to deploy a national missile defense system.�? Period. End of story. No caveats. A majority of House Democrats-let me repeat that- a majority of House Democrats voted for that measure.�?
“I do this for the sake of the general public, because too often Democrats are painted as reflexively and unalterably opposed to missile defense…I am a strong supporter of missile defense, including the GMD system already being deployed in Alaska and California. I think we will eventually prove that this system will be an effective insurance policy against a limited ICBM threat. Moreover, BMD (ballistic missile defense) systems that protect or will protect our troops on the front lines such as PAC-3, THADD and Aegis BMD-Enjoy broad and strong bipartisan support.�?
We at MDAA are pleased with these subtle public movements by our elected leaders towards stronger bi-partisan support of missile defense, which is critical to our national security and public safety.
We also take note that when Congress at the end of the hearing asked Lt. General Trey Obering what the one single most important thing he and his organization needs from Congress to provide an operational ready missile defense system that provides protection for our country, the Lt. General stated, “Patience, Tactical Patience.�?