Over the past few months, the United States has taken major steps to increase funding for missile defense in light of the North Korean missile threat.
The Trump administration’s original May 2017 budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2018 continued similar funding levels from the last years of the Obama administration. Momentum for additional funding began building over the summer and fall in the wake of several North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, a nuclear test, and other provocations.
In late September, just prior to the end of the 2017 fiscal year, Congress approved a White House reprogramming request that allocated an additional $368 million for missile defense and defeat, $249 million of which went to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). These funds went primarily to the GMD system to begin adding 20 more Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) and a new missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska. This boost pushed the overall FY 2017 MDA budget to $8.5 billion.
On November 6, the White House submitted to Congress a budget amendment to add $5.9 billion to its FY 2018 Department of Defense (DoD) budget, the majority for missile defense and defeat efforts, including $2 billion for MDA. Shortly thereafter, Congress passed the final post-conference version of the National Defense Authorization Act, and the Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee (SAC-D) released its recommendations for the fiscal year 2018 budget.
These numbers suggest that missile threats from North Korea and others seem to have the attention of legislators. In the case of MDA, the proposed spending levels would be the agency’s highest levels of funding in over a decade, in constant inflation-adjusted dollars, just shy of the 2005 and 2007 highs in the George W. Bush administration.
The emergency request and NDAA also emphasize the importance of moving beyond ballistic missile defense to a more integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) posture. The phrase “missile defense and defeat” appears throughout the FY 2018 NDAA, suggesting a more holistic attention to not only intercepting threat missiles once they have been launched, but a variety of ways of neutralizing or otherwise defeating their effective use by an enemy.
This language was mirrored in the president’s emergency request referring to “missile defeat and defense enhancements.” The language also follows last year’s congressional mandate for a missile defeat policy review, which has presumably been combined with the presidentially mandated Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR).
--Missile defense funds are likely to grow—a lot. In addition to a September reprogramming of an additional $249 million for the Missile Defense Agency for FY 2017, appropriations for FY 2018 could exceed $11 billion, over $3 billion more that than the president’s original request. This would make for the highest level of missile defense funding in a decade.
--The increases are spread around. Only $2.0 billion of a November $4.7 billion budget amendment for missile defense and defeat programs goes to the Missile Defense Agency. An additional $822 million goes to Army missile defense and $1.6 billion to other programs. Another $673.5 million is allocated for repairing the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), both of which are Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD)-equipped destroyers currently out of action.
--Much of the increase goes to procurement. This includes interceptor buys for all four deployed systems (Patriot, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD], Aegis, and Ground-based Midcourse Defense [GMD]), making up for recent procurement cutbacks.
--It’s not all for “missile defense,” as typically understood. Some of it is focused on countering missile threats earlier, or “left of launch,” rather than intercepting them after they are in the air.
--It’s not real until its real. While the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee recommendations represent strong markers of congressional intent, they are not appropriations. Failure to come to agreement on a budget bill could result in the extension of lower 2017 funding levels under a continuing resolution. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the CSIS website.