Opening Remarks of Ranking Member Turner

May 8, 2019
Opening Statement
Fiscal Year 2020 Priorities for Missile Defense and Defeat Programs

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's hearing titled “Fiscal Year 2020 Priorities for Missile Defense and Defeat Programs."

"Thank you Mr. Chairman. I’d like to extend my thanks to all the witnesses here today. The broad range of witnesses demonstrates how the missile defense enterprise has evolved over time and I expect it will continue to grow into the future to address the serious missile threats this country faces. 

"The missile defense enterprise has come a long way since that last time I was in a leadership position on this subcommittee. Within the span of a few short years, we have increased our baseline capability to defend our homeland from rogue nations’ ballistic missiles. We have developed and fielded missile defense capabilities in Europe and Asia to protect our deployed forces, as well as our partners, and allies. And about two months ago we had the most complex successful test of our Ground-based midcourse defense system ever. While the Department of Defense has made admirable advances in increasing the capability and capacity of missile defense systems, our strategic competitors continue to challenge us in several ways. 

"Today, over 20 states possess offensive missiles and those missile threats come with increasing complexity that challenge our current missile defense capabilities. China has deployed about intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) including a new road-mobile system and a new multi-warhead version of its silo-based ICBM. China also has the most robust inventory of INF violating missiles if you count their Ground-launched cruise missiles, Medium-Range ballistic Missiles, and Intermediate Range ballistic missiles. Russia has 700 deployed ICBMs in compliance with the New START Treaty, but also continues its development of INF-violating missiles and several advances in warhead development. China and Russia also are continuing to develop hypersonic weapons that would pose a major challenge to our current missile defense capabilities. Rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran continue the development of their missile capabilities, and while we have not seen a robust test effort in the last year, we cannot assume that means that either country has abandoned its plans for developing long range strategic missiles. 

"I am encouraged by the forward leaning policy that came out of the Missile Defense Review that was finally published by the Department of Defense this year. The emphasis of integrated air and missile defense, active and passive defense, left-of-launch, and boost-phase capabilities is clearly looking to the more advanced missile threats that we will have to reckon with as a nation. But still there is room left for improvement. Let me mention three areas that remain concerning.

"First—while the forward leaning policy in the Missile Defense Review starts addressing emerging missile threats, the budget request for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is actually lower than in Fiscal Year 2019 by about 1 billion dollars, or about 10% of MDA’s budget. It’s curious to me how the Administration thinks it can address these increasing missile threats, as well as hypersonic weapons, with a smaller budget. Part of this reduction is reflected in the decrease of interceptor procurement for almost all of the current deployed missile defense systems to include Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD), the SM3 IB, and our Ground-based Interceptors (GBIs). Our adversaries are building quantitatively more, and qualitatively better missiles, while MDA’s budget seems to be moving in the wrong direction.

"Second, space-based sensing. Last year on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, in recognition of the threat of hypersonic weapons being developed by Russia and China, Congress increased funding to an MDA program that would have provided a space-based sensing capability. We need that capability to detect and track hypersonic threats coming to the U.S. homeland. This year that program is zero’ed out and does not appear anywhere in the President’s Budget. Instead this program appears as MDA’s number one priority on its unfunded priorities list and I look forward to hearing from Gen Greaves about his perspectives on the future of this capability. I will also note that the Commander of United States Strategic Command mentioned this program as an area of concern in his letter to the committee on unfunded requirements.

"Lastly, over the past year the ground-based midcourse defense system has experienced numerous significant issues that are not adequately addressed in this budget submission. An issue with the redesigned kill vehicle has caused at least a two-year delay in its fielding. That means we will not be able to get all the ground-based interceptors emplaced in Fort Greely, Alaska by 2023. Additionally, the Department has significantly decreased funding for the Multi-object kill vehicle, reducing funding to keep the program on life-support through low-level technology maturation efforts. And the Department has once again failed to make a designation on an East Coast Missile Defense site which Congress has carried supportive language on since the NDAA passed for Fiscal Year 2013. Working with my colleague, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, I have called for the Department to publicly announce the location of such a site. The environmental impact statement is complete and now, it is imperative that the Agency lean forward on the emerging missile capabilities of our adversaries that serve to threaten our homeland and move forward on designating the site to enhance our homeland missile defense capability.

"On two occasions, Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan has committed, on the record, to fulfilling Congress’ intent on this important matter. On March 26th, in an open hearing of our Full Committee on the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Budget, the Acting Secretary stated to Congresswoman Stefanik that we can count on him sharing the site designation with our Committee. Again, on May 1st, before a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Hearing on DoD’s budget request, the Acting Secretary promised Congressman Tim Ryan an answer on the site selection within hours of the hearing’s conclusion. To my knowledge, this promise has not yet been fulfilled either. Now is the time for the Department to make good on its commitments.

"The GMD program is an essential element of missile defense. It is the only pure homeland defense element of our missile defense architecture. But with multiple delays, failures, and willful disregard to Congressional intent, I am left worrying about the fate of homeland missile defense in the future. 

"There is no doubt that missile threats are increasing quantitatively and qualitatively. More countries have ballistic missiles. All of those missiles are increasing in their integration of countermeasures to evade our current missile defense capability. But this budget submission, the reduction of MDA’s budget, and the inability of the enterprise to fulfill basic Congressional intent, all increase the uncertainty that we can meet these challenges into the future. 

"To all the witnesses thank you again for being with us today. I look forward to your testimony and continued dialogue on these critically important issues."

116th Congress