This declaration by Admiral Fallon of the need for missile defense in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East in front of our Senate Arms Service Committee is significant and points out that there is an immediate need for the deployment of missile defense systems to protect U.S. forces in the region and to deter Iran's use of its ballistic missiles to threaten or coerce the Persian Gulf and its bordering countries. Admiral Fallon's current responsibility as the Head of Pacific Command which spans a multitude of countries on the Pacific Rim including North Korea brings forward his unique expertise and experience as our country's foremost military leader on dealing with rouge nations with ballistic missiles. This skill both as diplomat amongst many diverse countries and as a war fighter that uses deterrence makes Admiral Fallon a solid choice for our Combat Commander of Central Command which spans the Middle East.

Currently, our Nation does not have the capability to fulfill the missile defense requirement that Admiral Fallon needs to protect our Armed Forces from Iran.

The seven U.S. sea based Aegis SM3 missile defense equipped ships as of February this year have as a total of less then two dozen missiles and all of the ships are based in the Pacific focused on North Korea. A second sea based missile defense system, the SM2 Block 4 that provides terminal defense to small areas similar to the land based Patriot 3 system is not scheduled to deploy until the end of 2008. Another comparable missile defense system which is land based would be the Theater High Area Altitude Defense System (THAAD) which is still going through testing in Hawaii and the earliest it could be ready is at the end of 2008.

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It is of merit that the same Senate Armed Service Committee considering the confirmation of Admiral Fallon to head the Central Command should also clearly understand the lack of missile defense for the protection of our forces and the need to acquire quickly missile defense for our deployed forces in the Persian Gulf.

We are living in dangerous times with Iran and North Korea wanting to threaten, expand and proliferate their ballistic missile technology. When we hear our future Combat Commander for the Middle East in Senate testimony, it brings to light the missile threat from Iran to his 152,000 American men and women he is responsible for.

We as a nation must act and provide him with the defenses he needs for
the safety of those American lives that are deployed in the Middle East.