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Give the Military the Tools to Protect Americans

Give the Military the Tools to Protect Americans

Aerial view of the United States Pentagon, the Department of Defense headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington D.C. (Jeremy Christensen/Dreamstime.com)

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Friday, 25 October 2019 11:32 AM Current | Bio | Archive

You may have noticed that we live in a dangerous world. Unstable nations, including North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, have (or want to have) nuclear weapons.

Luckily, the United States is building and deploying a robust missile defense system that provides a backstop against aggression. Unfortunately, we seem to be in the process of weakening a key part of our defenses.

The system in question is the Ground-based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, program.

This system is so complex it’s almost impossible to explain it. But it boils down to a series of installed (not mobile) interceptors at various locations in the U.S. These are linked by radar installations in various places, so the system can track potential threats. If an enemy launched a nuclear weapon, GMD would be engaged to attempt to destroy the weapon in space, before it could reenter the atmosphere or threaten American lives.

This is a last line of defense, of course, and the U.S. has not yet had to deploy it against an actual threat, so there is no way to be certain the system would work. However, it’s been making progress in various testing phases. GMD successfully intercepted a test ICBM in May of 2017, destroying the mock warhead in space. In 2014, a more rudimentary system successfully intercepted an incoming missile.

That’s exactly the point: as the system is installed and tested, it is growing and developing, increasing the chance that it will succeed in shooting down a missile if one is fired at the mainland.

There are now some 44 interceptors in place. At times when particular threats, such as North Korea, acted up, policymakers saw the logic of investing in the GMD system. In 2013, for example, then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a plan to deploy an additional 14 interceptors in Alaska after provocations from North Korea.

But Barack Obama wasn’t always eager to fund GMD. Larry Huff writes that, “One of the first acts of the Obama Administration was to slash GMD funding,” shifting that spending to programs in Europe instead of the U.S.

More spending is needed. “Barely 1% of the U.S. military budget is spent on missile defense, and only a fraction of that goes to defense of the homeland (the rest goes to regional defenses of U.S. forces and allies),” writes defense analyst Loren Thompson in Forbes. “GMD is facing challenges in assuring the reliability of its interceptor missiles and preserving the supply chain for essential parts as the system ages.”

The Trump administration has the opportunity to fully fund the program, but seems to be following Obama’s lead instead. “The Pentagon has moved from taking a ‘strategic pause’ on the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program to outright killing it,” Defense News reports. This is irresponsible. Yes, the system isn’t working perfectly, but that’s merely a reason to keep it working and improving. Under the Pentagon’s proposal, the country could be without a GMD system until at least 2023, even as the threats to our survival are increasing. It would be better to keep moving step-by-step, rather than trying to come up with a GMD program in one giant leap.

Several members of Congress are pushing back. “Given the continued evolution of advanced adversaries’ missile capabilities and still uncertain and unpredictable nature of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, we cannot afford to wait possibly a decade for a new and still conceptual kill vehicle,” Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska said. Three congress members from Alabama write that: “Missile defense is vital to securing our homeland, our forces abroad and our allies, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.” But to make certain the program works, it should be fully funded.

Threats to the American homeland are only going to grow in the years ahead. We need a steadily improving missile defense system to protect us. Whether we get one is up to policymakers.

Steve Gruber is a conservative talk show host with 25 affiliates in Michigan. "The Steve Gruber Show" launched in 2012 with just four affiliates and has grown into the most powerful name in talk radio across Michigan. Steve has been named “Best Morning Personality” by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters five years in a row. His conservative, common-sense philosophy was developed during his time growing up in rural Michigan. Steve’s early career found him in several newsrooms including WILX, Lansing where he honed his investigative journalism and interviewing skills. He became the main news anchor of the station and before long was offered a job with NBC in Columbus, Ohio. While working for NBC, he covered the incredible launch of John Glenn, age 77, into space at Cape Canaveral, White Supremacists in Ohio, and the deadly game of selling prescription medication online. Steve was nominated for an Emmy in 2000. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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You may have noticed that we live in a dangerous world. Unstable nations, including North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, have (or want to have) nuclear weapons.
military, missile defense, alabama
814
2019-32-25
Friday, 25 October 2019 11:32 AM
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