Dear Members and Friends,
Today, for the first time in thirty years Iran is sending two naval war ships through the Suez Canal in Egypt to Syria; a display of military presence and force. Momentum initiated by the transition of the Egyptian Government, overthrow of the Tunisian government and the anti-government protests in Libya, Jordan, Yemen and Bahrain is creating a sense of instability in North Africa and the Middle East. It is possible that some entities in the region may look to take advantage of this instability.
The United States ability to project power through its presence of military force in the region is paramount to its allies’ stability, security and deterrence of potential escalation. The proliferation of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and rockets to the region is widespread; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified to Congress last week that Hezbollah alone has 40,000 rockets and missiles. Having a mixture of U.S. offensive and defense capability deployed in the region solidifies stability and de-escalates potential major conflicts within this volatile region. U.S. missile defense forces that can defend, protect and deter are an important capability that should not be withheld from our armed forces and allies operating in the Middle East and North Africa.
One of the best offensive and defensive military mobile capabilities for the United States is the Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Destroyer and Cruiser. The Aegis BMD ships located in the Persian Gulf can independently sense, track and destroy any regional missile threat as well as all types of deployed Iranian ballistic missiles threatening Gulf State allies and U.S. forward operating bases.
The U.S. Navy plays a vital role in the stability of the Middle East region through the constant presence of its Aegis BMD ships in the Persian Gulf. It is critical to provide these ships with upgrades to their Aegis processors so they can increase their mission capability and to have considerable numbers of the new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB missiles in their arsenal. The 2012 budget allocated for buying 46 SM-3 Block IB interceptors, four upgraded 4.01 processors and one 5.0 processer for five Aegis BMD Ships. This is not enough, even in combination with other navy missions and the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) allocations to deal with the current numerical missile threat; especially the thousands of Iranian missiles located in the Persian Gulf region.
In order to provide stability and protection for our allies in the Middle East region and protect the flow of commercial traffic over international waters the United States has forward operating bases in the region. Four of these forward operating bases are located in Persian Gulf States of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and UAE.
Bahrain, a site of current anti-government protests, is home to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Fifth Fleet Combined Maritime Forces and is the only port in the Persian Gulf where U.S. ships can refurbish, refuel and dock. All of these bases are defended by U.S. Army Patriot Air and Missile Defense batteries because of their extremely high value to the United States and Gulf States, particularly those in Bahrain and Qatar that host U.S. air operations in the region. To further supplement missile defense capability, the U.S. looks to deploy Forward Based X-band radars (AN/TPY-2) that can provide more capability as well as discrimination and the very capable Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) land-based missile defense system that can create a second layer of defense between the Aegis BMD and Patriot systems. Funding for the THAAD and two Forward Based radars was supported by the Administration in the 2012 Budget.
It is vital that our allies in the region and our forward operating bases are protected and defended. It is just as important that the United States has the capability to play an effective role in stabilizing a volatile region and preventing an escalation. Missile defense makes our world safer.