Shields Up

By John Liang / April 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

With a North Korean ballistic missile test looming, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee want to make sure that the Obama administration keeps its eyes on the ball regarding the U.S. missile defense system.

In a letter sent yesterday to Obama, the GOP lawmakers call on the president to authorize military commanders to employ the nation's missile defense system if the U.S. or its allies are put at risk by the launch:

As you are aware, recent news reports suggest that North Korea is imminently close to launching a long-range Taepodong ballistic missile that could reach the United States. The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific recently testified before our committee, "We're ready to defend U.S. territory, our allies and our national interests if the president so directs." However, it remains unclear whether the administration has made any decision, based upon comments made by your Secretary of Defense this weekend where he said the administration is, "not prepared to do anything about it." We respectfully encourage you to authorize our military commanders to employ our nation's missile defense system, should the United States or our allies be put at risk. . . .

While we support diplomatic efforts by your administration to prevent such a launch from occurring, we also believe prudent steps can be taken to make use of our missile defense capabilities should the United States or our allies be put at risk. Our nation’s top military generals recently testified before Congress that they believe our missile defense system is “effective” and has a “high probability" of intercepting an incoming missile if they were commanded to do so.