Wednesday, April 11, members of the United States Senate held a hearing on Missile Defense led by the Chairman of the Strategic Forces Committee, Senator Bill Nelson. It was evident in testimony that the threat of ballistic missiles and their future is a reality that our country must deal with and that consensus for the need of missile defense is apparent. “Since we all want our missile defense systems to work in an operationally effective and cost-effective suitable manner…” Senator Nelson stated at the onset of the hearing.
The crux of the hearing focused on the third Missile Defense Site located in Europe, as the Missile Defense issues of oversight, accountability, testing and value were adequately exposed and answered. In addition, strong commitment was voiced by the Senators and those that testified for the priority on the current missile defense systems as enacted by Congress into law last year. As Senator Bill Nelson emphasized, “This provision of law that requires the Department of Defense to place a priority on the development, testing, fielding and improvement of effective near-term missile defense. We want to learn how the department has implemented that requirement.”
However, the European Missile Site came into focus when Senator Jack Reed and Senator Bill Nelson asked a series of questions on pending agreements with the Polish and the Czechs, as well as NATO approval for the missile site to Mr. Brian Green, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Capabilities for the Department of Defense. Though the questions were not answered to the likes of these particular Senators, it clearly exposed current and potential issues with the placement of missile defense systems in Europe. These two issues of: 1) no formal agreements with Poland/Czech Republic, and 2) NATO approval, are faced with a ballistic missile threat from Iran to Europe and the United States which has been stated conservatively in Congressional testimony by 2015.
New light was shed on the threat from Iran at the hearing.
“I ask my colleagues to consider this initiative (European Missile Site) in the broader context of our defense strategy and would note that just last month Iran held 15 British citizens hostage. With Ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction, Iran could hold entire cities, even nations, hostage,” stated Senator Sessions in his opening statement at the hearing. Senator Inhofe further remarked, “You know, if you’re looking at Iran, and some of the things- what they were willing to do with their hostages just a week ago, what would they do if they had the capability of some kind of missile? I cant help but think that they’ve demonstrated pretty clearly that they would be willing to- if they can hold one country hostage with hostages, then what could they do if they had that capability, to an entire country…”
On behalf of the American public, and our armed forces, we must ask all the members of the Strategic Forces Sub Committee of the U.S. Senate two questions:
1) If you choose not to authorize deployment of a European Site, what do you have in place to protect Continental Europe, our deployed forces, allies, friends and our Eastern United States from Iran by 2015?
2) Secondly, in regards to NATO approval, when has the American Congress or any U.S. President asked NATO or any other country in the world permission to protect our population, homeland and armed forces?