March 24, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today highlighted the importance of missile defense during an Armed Services Hearing on the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM). Senator Inhofe met with General John Craddock, Commander, U.S. European Command, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Supreme Allied Commander Europe, on Monday in his Washington, D.C. office to discuss the issues of importance before General Craddock addressed the Armed Services Committee today.
“Today, more than 20 countries around the world have a ballistic missile capability,” Senator Inhofe said. “It is imperative that our nation possess the capability to defend itself against a ballistic missile attack. This was reiterated last week by Admiral Keating and General Renuart, and this week by General Craddock who said, ‘Ballistic missile defense must remain a priority so that we are postured to counter threats to the United States, deployed forces and allies.’ Unfortunately, the Obama administration remains uncommitted at this time.
“Every Combatant Commander I have spoken with has supported the deployment of an integrated ballistic defense. NATO leaders have also spoken, stating in a December 2008 communiqué, ‘Ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to Allies’ forces, territory, and populations. Missile defense forms part of a broader response to counter this threat. We therefore recognize the substantial contribution to the protection of Allies from long-range ballistic missiles to be provided by the planned deployment of European-based United States missile defense assets.’
“To go back on our commitment to the Czech Republic and Poland would send a signal around the world that the United States does not hold up to its agreements. On Sunday, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslow Skiorski said, ‘…we hope we don’t regret our trust in the United States.’ I echo his concern.
“In light of the successful Iranian satellite launch and reports of North Korean missile developments, now is not the time to cut strategic missile defense funding or delay constructing the ‘Third Site’ in Europe. The technology is proven – we have conducted 37 of 41 successfully intercepts – and the threat is real. Furthermore, as the U.S. and allies begin planning for a drawdown of forces in Iraq, Iran is even more likely to continue its ballistic missile development and provocative actions towards Israel and other nations in the region.
“No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, these facts should concern each and every American who believes we are well prepared for attacks of any kind across the spectrum of warfare. We are not. Today, our nation does not have a deployed, operational, multilayered integrated robust missile defense system to defend and protect the United States, its armed forces and its allies from Iran. We are susceptible to ballistic missile attack, and we need to take action now to ensure that we can stand prepared for any future threats.”Last week, Senator Inhofe questioned Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and Lieutenant General Michael D. Maples, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) national security threats, including missile defense, and said, “North Korea has continued its sale of ballistic missiles and associated material to several countries, including Iran. It also continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions in an effort to de-stabilize East Asia. In 1998, our nation was caught off-guard by the ballistic missile capabilities of North Korea. That year, the CIA issued a report claiming that North Korea would not have a long-range ballistic missile capability for at least 10 to 15 years. [Retired] General Shalikashvili testified under oath to the same. And then, about two weeks later, Kim Jong Il, operating under his own timeline, sent a ballistic missile over Japan. The responsibility for protecting the United States against a ballistic missile attack is an increasingly important role. We need to remain vigilant across the globe to ensure we are never caught off-guard again.” To read the rest of the release, click here. ###