Deep in the South

September 20, 2010

Dear Members and Friends,

Off the north banks of the Tennessee River, tucked away amongst the low green hills of Huntsville, Alabama lays one our nation’s most valuable military installations for the U.S. Army, NASA, FBI, ATF and MDA. The Redstone Arsenal, built in 1941 to supply munitions in World War II, later became the home of Werner von Braun and U.S. rocket development. The growth of Redstone Arsenal was driven by President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s desire to launch a satellite 120 days after the Soviets first flew Sputnik in 1957 and conversion of U.S. Army personnel there to become NASA and engineer the rocket propulsion that would take the U.S. to the moon.

This world renowned technical and engineering community, centered in Huntsville and Decatur, excels in its core competency of research and development in rocketry and space. Over $58 billion a year of federal funding flows into this installation. Missile defense for the nation is rightfully housed here; it is home to the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

Over arching the command of this base and most importantly conducting space and missile defense operations in support of U.S. Strategic Command is the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC). SMDC, which MDA supports, provides space and missile defense capabilities for the U.S. Army and integrates those assets to support the U.S. Combat Commanders in theaters around the world, most notably NORTHCOM, PACOM, CENTCOM and EUCOM. It is a global command with U.S. soldiers deployed around the world providing 24 hour support protecting our nation, U.S. forces and allies.

Tomorrow the United States Senate will vote on approval of the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill. This follows the Senate Appropriations Committee mark which reduced the President’s request for 2011 funding towards missile defense by $119M. Of the $119M in reductions, $20M comes from research, testing and development while the remaining $99M comes from procurement.  The mark awaits a Senate floor vote before going into conference with the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee mark.

The reasons displayed by the Senate Appropriations committee for reduction involve the justification materials submitted for oversight rather than fundamental program concerns (SAC Defense Appropriations Report).  There are and will be differences in reductions and the direction of where missile defense funding is allocated between the House, the Senate and the President before an approved and agreed to 2011 Defense Bill is signed.

With a non-proactive military system that brings critical allies in alliances against known and growing threats to our nation and mankind, which costs less than two percent of the entire defense budget, funding for missile defense should exceed the President’s request rather than diminish. 88% of the American public expects and supports a fully capable defensive system protecting our way of life. As Iran continues to press forward unabated with nuclear ambition, the instability of North Korea threatens Asia and the proliferation of ballistic missiles continues the American public, the U.S. war fighter and our allies will continue to demand deployed missile defense capability.

MDAA was honored to visit Redstone Arsenal last week.

“Build it, they will not come.”

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Curtis Stiles - Chief of Staff