Operation Mollification

/ April 7, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today sought to mollify lawmakers' concerns over his proposal to cut $1.4 billion from the Missile Defense Agency.

As we reported yesterday, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mark Begich (D-AK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) sent a letter to President Obama warning that the proposed cuts "could undermine our emerging missile defense capabilities to protect the United States against a growing threat."

Additionally, the senators fear that the cuts could undermine the United States' international efforts to increase missile defense among allies:

Cooperation on missile defense is now a critical component of many of our closest security partnerships around the world. We fear that cuts to the budget for missile defense could inadvertently undermine these relationships and foster the impression that the United States is an unreliable ally. Moreover, sharp cuts would leave us and our friends around the world less capable of responding to the growing ballistic missile threat.

Speaking to a small group of reporters in a follow-up gathering today, Gates sought to mollify those lawmakers' opposition: “If we can show them ((lawmakers)) what we are sustaining with the ground-based interceptors for midcourse, and the research and development that we have continued with respect to the boost phase, perhaps we can persuade them that all is not as bad as they seem to think.”

-- John Liang