Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at a hearing on the FY24 budget request for missile defense and missile defeat programs.
Rep. Lamborn’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
I would like to begin by welcoming our witnesses here today. We have Mr. John Hill, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space and Missile Defense Policy.
We also have another Jon Hill, Vice Admiral Hill, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency.
We have Lieutenant General Karbler, from U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. General Karbler, it was great visiting with you last week and seeing all the work you and your team are doing.
And finally, we have Major General David Miller, Director of Operations for Space Command.
This will likely be the last time that we have Vice Admiral Hill and Lieutenant General Karbler before our Subcommittee. Thank you both for your decades of service, and that of your families. Our country is stronger and safer because of your tireless dedication and the sacrifices that accompany your service. I offer heartfelt thanks from myself and the members of this subcommittee for it.
And now, on to the topic of the day – Missile Defense.
Missile defense policy has shifted from a partisan issue to one where there is much more consensus.
One of the driving factors behind this shift are the aggressive actions and advancing military capabilities of China and Russia. It’s challenging to argue, as some have, that U.S. missile defenses are destabilizing when Russia’s Moscow Missile Defense system alone has 68 interceptors – more than the total number of U.S. Ground Based Interceptors – armed with nuclear warheads. And just last week, China claims to have conducted a successful mid-course intercept test.
In addition to China and Russia’s actions, North Korea and Iran are growing rogue threats. North Korea just last week conducted a flight test of a solid-fueled ICBM - a new capability for its military that is the result of its unprecedented pace of missile tests over the past year. And Iran has multiple Space Launch Vehicle programs that, in my opinion, are nothing more than flimsy cover for its ICBM program.
Missile defense policy has evolved in places like Ukraine and Israel, as we have seen how it is executed in real world operations. This is especially true given what Israel has been able to do with Iron Dome to protect its citizens, and recent advancements it has made with the Iron Beam directed energy program. In Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unsuccessful invasion attempt has been stifled by missile defenses of critical military assets and population centers. Through both conflicts, it’s proven that missile defenses save lives and buys time for senior leaders to make decisions regarding how to respond.
Missile defense of the American homeland provides similar benefits. If, for some misguided reason, an adversary attacks our territory, we need to be able to take out as many incoming missiles as possible, saving lives and providing senior leaders additional time to calibrate an appropriate response. Furthermore, knowing that we can defend our country and our people deters an adversary from even considering an attack on our homeland in the first place. This is inherently stabilizing.
There are some other issues I hope our witnesses will address today. I hope we hear how vital spectrum is to our homeland missile defenses. If we get the current spectrum debate wrong, there will be unfathomable consequences on our missile defense capabilities. These consequences include an overwhelming financial cost we would shoulder to replace our current systems and the unimaginable capability gap that would occur in the interim.
With this in mind, I hope we get an update on the Next Generation Interceptor program and hear how DoD and Congress can work together to accelerate it. Buying only 20 N-G-Is doesn’t make sense. Instead, we need to look at a full replacement of the current fleet for a total of 64. I am also interested in having a discussion about reenergizing plans to field additional interceptors in upstate New York – which General Milley gave his support to earlier this month. We can’t wait for Iran to test an ICBM before we begin construction on an East Coast site. We know from site construction in Alaska, that this will be a multi-year project, so it is best to get started now.
On Monday, I was able to attend the Space Symposium in my home district of Colorado Springs. Based on current trajectories in military technology and the innovation of the private sector, it’s clear that the future of missile defense is increasingly becoming space-based. I hope that we can spend some time in the classified session discussing this reality.
One example of this that we can discuss here and is a high priority program for me is the H-B-T-S-S constellation which will provide the sensing, tracking, and fire control needed for hypersonic and other missile defense. Two of these payloads will launch this year, while the rest of the constellation will follow in a few years.
I also hope we hear from our policy witnesses as to why we are settling for President Biden’s limited budget request for the Glide Phase Interceptor, or GPI, that doesn’t get us a capability until the mid-2030s.
Given the rapid pace with which our adversaries are pursuing and fielding hypersonic systems, I am eager to hear ideas from DoD on how to pull both H-B-T-S-S and G-P-I to the left. On this issue, many of us in Congress feel a sense of urgency that does not seem to be shared by the executive branch - and that is a problem for our national security.
And with that, I turn to the Ranking Member for his opening remarks.