Peter Roff, 7/19/2017 [Archive]

Trump Needs to Fix Obama Mistake on Missile Defense

Trump Needs to Fix Obama Mistake on Missile Defense

By Peter Roff


It's true the U.S. government invented the Internet - but it took the private sector to make it ubiquitous. Left in the Pentagon's hands we'd probably all be online but we'd still have to use external modems using a dial up connection to get there.

The private sector operates very differently from the government. In case there's any doubt, that's a good thing. Most all the great innovations we seen over the last 100 years if not longer have been the result of private initiative backed by private capital financing private creativity that have produced breakthroughs that added to the public good.

The government, on the other hand, is bureaucratic and by design moves slowly. It is not a place where innovation is the order of the day, certainly not any done on the relative cheap. Moreover it is constrained by rules and hidebound by layers of authority to such a degree it's a wonder anything ever gets done.

The contrast is important, especially in the national security sphere at a time when America's enemies are developing new weapons and designing new tactics that threaten us here in the homeland. That's why the Trump Administration needs to act quickly to change course and undo the realignment of the nation's efforts to deploy and develop defenses against ballistic missile attacks now and in the future.

Under Barack Obama the Pentagon hatched a plan to take decision-making authority away from contractors working on the project by insourcing and centralizing the responsibilities inside the Missile Defense Agency housed within the Department of Defense.

The new system, called disaggregation, would bring the responsibility for the development of new systems in house, with the MDA contracting out different pieces to different companies instead of having a single company with proven expertise develop, maintain and deploy whole systems. While this may sound like an effort at streamlining, it will actually increase inefficiency and hamper the development of new technologies.

If the Obama plan goes into effect as it is scheduled to do in mid-2018 it would be one more nail in the coffin of a program that ought to be first priority so as to better protect Hawaii and Alaska from the kind of attack the North Koreans seem intent on developing the ability to launch.

Changing gears will require the attention of Defense Secretary James Mattis and the White House thanks to the efforts of Senate Democrats to keep other positions within the Pentagon empty. Vice Admiral James Syring, who headed the Missile Defense Agency under Obama and who lost the job under Trump on his last day on the job signed a mandate intended to locking the misguided insourcing program that will weaken our national security.

The GMD system is the only system proven to protect the US mainland from ICBM's but it is still in development and has been inhibited by Obama's Euro centric priorities. Syring's mandate makes the situation even worse by seeking to insource it and then break apart the development and maintenance of the system to different vendors.

The disaggregation of the development of ballistic missile defense though a risky acquisition experiment as what was put in motion under the last administration at the last minute, at a time when the threat of a nuclear attack is the highest since the Cold War is misguided and will pose great risk to U.S. national security. Switching to a new system will cause delays, disruptions of protection and increased costs and inhibit our ability to stay ahead of our enemies' advances.

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© 2017 Peter Roff. Distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Roff is a former senior political writer for UPI and a well-known commentator based in Washington, D.C. Email him at Peter.Roff@Verizon.net.

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