A senior member of the House Armed Services Committee wants the Missile Defense Agency to provide Congress with more information regarding the Obama administration's proposed "Phased Adaptive Approach" toward European missile defense.
Specifically, strategic forces subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Turner (R-OH) writes in an April 15 letter to MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly:
I am concerned that the portions of the proposed system that are intended to protect the mainland United States are not yet defined to support sufficient evaluation of its merits and the resources necessary to implement it.
Details such as system and inventory requirements, research-and-development milestones, independent assessments, technology maturity levels, coverage and performance analysis, program schedules, acquisition strategies, cost estimates, deployment plans timelines for host-nation agreements, operational plans, and NATO integration plans, would be vital to supporting such an evaluation. Also, the options considered and how those options were assessed would . . . be important information for Congress to review. However, as the missile defense acquisition expert, I seek your judgment and input on what information you believe is necessary for Congress to conduct its oversight and evaluation of the PAA.
As Iran continues to represent an emerging threat, congressional oversight and evaluation of the administration's proposal is imperative. Further, since the administration scrapped a plan that would have provided missile defense coverage for the mainland United States, the administration's proposal should be evaluated within the context of the missile defense protection provide(d) to the United States mainland. Congress must be confident that the PAA is the best approach for increasing the protection of the mainland United States; but to have this confidence requires information.
The letter was sent the same day as a strategic forces subcommittee hearing on the Ballistic Missile Defense Review and MDA's fiscal year 2011 budget request, where Turner, in his opening statement, reiterated his concern about Congress' lack of information on the PAA:
I am very concerned by recent comments from administration officials that essentially Congress has everything it needs to know about the phased adaptive approach, PAA. As Undersecretary Tauscher said at our hearing yesterday in reference to PAA details, "It's on the Internet."
Well, unfortunately, the Internet does not provide sufficient details on the four phases of the PAA, nor does it provide a description of the options considered by the administration in addition to the PAA and the analysis to support why it was chosen as the preferred approach.