An Aggressive Approach To Anti-Aircraft Missiles

The US program for helping eliminate and secure shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles around the world is the State Department’s Small Arms/Light Weapons Destruction Initiative. It is currently funded at $8.75 million for FY 2006, and the Bush Administration has requested about the same amount for 2007. I was honored to join Chairman Royce in requesting that the appropriators provide full funding for this program, but I know we can do much more.

Therefore, HR 5333 would authorize $15 million in 2007 and $20 million in 2008 for these efforts under a Global Program for the Elimination of MANPADS (man-portable shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles) and Conventional Weapons. Given the severity and urgency of this problem, I would hope that we will spend even more than these modest amounts to destroy or secure these weapons in future years.



The bill also contains sense of Congress provisions seeking greater multilateral controls on these weapons. I want to note that many of the countries that now produce by MANPADS domestically fall outside of the Wassenaar Arrangement, the only regime that seeks to control their sale. Some of the producing states are also unfriendly to the US. Wassenaar is merely a political (not legal) commitment on the part of its 33 member states.

The bill therefore also provides penalties for countries that sell these weapons to terrorist organizations or to countries designated state-sponsors of terrorism.

Addressing the threat from shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles will require effective homeland security policies, especially an effective port security policy, an effective system for protecting civilian aircraft, and better counter-proliferation policies. Just as important, we have to be willing to assist countries if we are going to secure the existing arsenals of MANPADS and prevent their use against US civilian and military aircraft. I think this legislation is an important step in that direction and will go along way toward addressing the threat posed by loose arsenals, black and gray markets, and rogue suppliers.

I thank the Chair again for his work on this legislation and urge my colleagues to support HR 5333.