Pentagon urges Congress to move $416M for missile defense


The Pentagon wants Congress to move $416 million from several other defense accounts to pay for “missile defeat enhancements” in the face of an increasingly aggressive North Korea, according to multiple reports.

In a reprogramming request signed by Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist on Sept. 7, the Defense Department asks lawmakers to move the majority of the money, about $330 million, from unused fiscal 2017 Army operations and maintenance funds, reported.

The Pentagon official argued that the Army operations and maintenance dollars couldn’t be used because the 2017 budget arrived later than usual.


Lawmakers will need to sign off on the request. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he does not anticipate any issues with getting the $416 million transfer approved.

“I think it’s a really good idea,” Sullivan told The Hill on Thursday. “My view is we need to be accelerating that. I think that’s going to be moving. I have not heard of any [roadblocks].”

Sullivan’s state does stand to gain from the proposal, which adds $136 million to increase ground-based interceptors from 44 to 64 and creates 20 new silos in Fort Greely, Alaska.

The effort is part of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, which Sullivan has fiercely advocated for in the Senate.

Sullivan, who along with the rest of the Senate Armed Services Committee received a closed briefing on North Korea earlier Thursday, said missile defense has strong bipartisan backing due to Pyongyang’s increasingly erratic behavior.

“The president and the administration are focused on it, too. The threat is very apparent … people are willing to spend on it and authorize additional capacity,” he said.

North Korea does not yet have the technology to reach the West Coast with a missile, but Sullivan has urged fellow members of his committee to prepare for a ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S.

However, Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said moving money from the Army accounts would sacrifice readiness, Defense News reported.

“Mr. Smith has significant concerns about taking that much money from near-term readiness and putting into missile defense programs that will not have an impact until the 2020s at the earliest,” a spokesman for Smith said.

President Trump, meanwhile, has been a proponent of more missile defense dollars. In an August speech, Trump said his administration would increase the missile defense spending “by many billions of dollars because of North Korea, and other reasons having to do with the anti-missile.”

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