Everett Opening Statement for Strategic Forces Subcommittee Mark-up of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008

May 1, 2007
Press Release

Contact: Josh Holly-202.226.3988 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, senior Republican on the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, today released the following opening statement for the subcommittee’s of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008:

“I thank my good friend, the chairman, and congratulate her for her work and leadership in preparing her first mark as chairman.  She has made a sincere effort to work across the aisle, which produced a mark where we agree on far more than we disagree.  I would also like to thank Mr. Reyes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for working closely with us on some challenging programs that reside in both committees.

“This subcommittee tackles complex and often partisan issues, such as ballistic missile defense and nuclear weapons policy.  But regardless of the issue, we have a strong history of holding candid conversations and identifying, in a bipartisan manner, a prudent way forward that best serves the warfighter and our national security interests. 

“This year has been no exception.  Our subcommittee allocation was cut by over a billion dollars from the administration’s request.  So from the outset, I knew it would be difficult to adequately fund the many important programs within our jurisdiction.  I know this reduction in our topline was not the chairman’s preference, and in light of the allocation she was given, I think she has done a good job in this environment. 

“In the area of missile defense, the chairman’s mark continues the policy set forth by this committee last year that places a priority on near-term missile defense capabilities.  The mark increases or fully funds the request for Patriot PAC-3, Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD), and terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD).  I endorse the chairman’s increased focus on warfighter involvement and greater cooperation with our Allies, such as Israel, Japan, and NATO. 

“The mark contains a reduction in funding for the European Third Site.  I understand the chairman’s rationale and concern about moving forward without host nation formal agreements in place.  However, negotiations are ongoing with Poland, the Czech Republic, NATO and Russia. 

“In fact just two days ago, President Bush himself commented on how important having a Third Site in Europe is in defending this country from a potential missile attack from Iran.  Given intelligence assessments that Iran could possess longer-range missiles by 2015, it is important that our defenses remain a step-ahead of the threat.  As we move this bill through the House and eventually go to conference with the Senate, I hope that the chairman would be open to supporting site preparation activities, should the negotiations with these countries produce results. 

“Now is not the time to further reduce funding, or slow down the development and fielding of those missile defense elements that are critical to our nation’s defense and the protection of our deployed forces and allies.  In the time since last year’s mark, we have seen a clear demonstration of the threat to our security, including:

  • North Korea’s test of several short-range missiles and a longer-range Taepo-Dong-2 missile;
  • Iran’s continued development and test of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles; and
  • North Korea’s nuclear test and Iran’s efforts to continue uranium enrichment in the face of international criticism.  

“As such, I was pleased to see the Chairman include an additional $66 million, above the President’s request, for the Aegis BMD program.  Just last week, the Aegis program conducted another successful intercept test.  This marked the eighth successful intercept in the last 10 flight tests for Aegis BMD. 

“With this type of progress being seen in many of the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) programs, I speak for many on this side of the aisle when I express concern about the funding reduction to MDA’s budget, and the deep cut to boost phase missile defense.  Boost phase intercept provides the best opportunity to engage a missile before it releases its warhead and countermeasures.  I understand the need to focus on near-term capabilities, but as we move the bill forward, we need to work together to identify the right balance between investments in near-term systems and future capabilities.  

“Another element of the mark that generated considerable discussion was space.  China’s anti-satellite test in January provided a clear reminder that we cannot take our space assets for granted.  The chairman’s mark contains a provision I strongly support which places a priority on the protection of our space assets and increases funding for space situational awareness and operationally responsive space capabilities. 

“Consistent with previous bipartisan efforts to improve space acquisition, the committee continues its emphasis on program execution.  The mark reflects a measured approach to space acquisition that overlaps new modernization programs with continuing legacy programs.  I know these space programs can be easy targets for cuts because many do not realize the importance of space.  General Dodgen tells a story about when he asked a young soldier if the soldier needed space to fight, the soldier replied that all he needed was his rifle, his box of ammunition, and the little black box that tells his where he is. 

“I appreciate the chairman’s decision to avoid severe reductions or changes that could impact the delivery of space assets to the warfighter, or affect the stability of the industrial base.   The mark fully funds Transformational Satellite, or TSAT, which has made significant progress in maturing critical technologies and following GAO’s knowledge-based approach.  It also supports Space Radar.  Though the program details are classified, I believe Space Radar’s all weather, day-night, 24-7, surveillance and reconnaissance capability is vital for the protection of our forces and for supporting intelligence users.  Significant work remains in order to match requirements to resources, mature technology and improve the ground infrastructure, and address concerns about the acquisition strategy.  The mark protects the resources necessary to address these areas.   

“There are reductions to slow some programs, including the Alternative Infrared Space System, or AIRSS.  While it would provide modernized capabilities for the warfighter in missile warning, the committee feels more emphasis should be placed on requirements definition and technology development.   

“I am also pleased to associate myself with the Chairman’s position on the Conventional Trident Modification (CTM) program.  Consistent with the requirement in last year’s bill, the committee received a report from the Department that addressed many of our concerns about the risks of misinterpretation.  The mark makes a moderate reduction to allow for system development but limits procurement and fielding.   

“The mark reflects a strong bipartisan agreement on the Atomic Energy Defense Activities, particularly on the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. RRW has the potential to increase the reliability, safety, and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile and reduce the likelihood of testing.  RRW funding is reduced but maintained at a level to allow NNSA to take a measured, knowledge-based approach by focusing on detailed design and cost studies.  Only then will Congress have the information necessary to recommend a prudent way forward. 

“The mark also contains a provision to study the composition of the protective forces safeguarding nuclear weapons and materials within the nuclear weapons complex.  While I think it is premature to federalize the force at this time, I fully support the chairman’s request for a study to gather more information on the feasibility, benefits, and costs of various options.

“On a final note, I would like to thank the other members of the subcommittee and their staffs for their hard work toward making this a quality product, and in particular the Committee staff:  Bob DeGrasse, Rudy Barnes, Kari Bingen, Jason Hagadorn, Adrienne Ramsay, Eryn Robinson, and Frank Rose, in putting this mark together.

“Madam Chairman, I remain concerned about the reduction to the overall topline level of the strategic forces mark, and will seek to address this in the full committee next week.  I appreciate the thought, candor, and measured approach you have taken in preparing this mark.  I recommend its adoption and encourage my colleagues to vote in support of it.”