WASHINGTON — House and Senate lawmakers have been pushing to boost the Missile Defense Agency’s fiscal 2022 budget, and they continue to advocate for increased missile defense in the Indo-Pacific theater. But House appropriators plan to cut funding to enhance missile defense in Guam.
In the House Appropriations Committee’s FY22 spending bill, the MDA’s $78.3 million request for missile defense for Guam — U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s top unfunded priority — took a $15.9 million hit due to “unjustified growth.”
The agency requested an additional $40 million to procure long-lead items for the architecture in Guam as well and appropriators are poised to cut that as well. But according to a wish list sent to Congress from the command, more funding — to the tune of $231.7 million — on top of what the MDA requested is needed to move at the desired pace. The list also included funding for a Homeland Defense Radar for Hawaii.
“While supportive of the defense of Guam from ballistic, hypersonic, and cruise missile threats, the Committee notes that the report on the defense of Guam from integrated air and missile threats, required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, has not yet been submitted to the congressional defense committees,” the committee notes in its report. “Additionally, the lack of detailed information on the budget request, especially the request for $40,000,000 in procurement, is troubling. Therefore, the Committee has denied funding for procurement and reduced the amount recommended for research, development, test and evaluation until the Department submits the required report and adequate budgetary information for the Committee to make informed funding decisions on these efforts.”
House appropriators did provide $75 million in funding for a HDR-H, which the agency chose not to fund in its budget request. In hearings over the past several months, lawmakers across the defense committees advocated for providing Hawaii the added protection.
The MDA has not finalized or unveiled its plan on how it will enhance missile defense capability on Guam.
MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said the plan is to use mature capabilities, which are believed to include the Aegis Combat System and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. The Army deployed a rotational THAAD presence to Guam in 2013.
Hill acknowledged in a House Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing last month that he had promised a report to Congress by June, “but given the complexity of it, that’s going to take us a little bit longer to get there.”
Developing the desired protection for Guam is on “a very aggressive timeline, given where we are at,” he added.
It remains to be seen what Senate appropriators will do, but there is support from lawmakers on both Armed Services committees for a missile defense architecture for Guam in addition to the HDR-H.
House Strategic Forces Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said during a June 15 hearing that key programs were underfunded. He singled out Guam as one of those programs.
House appropriators are the first to issue a spending bill for FY22, and it’s unclear if Senate appropriators will follow suit.
Congress added $1.3 billion to the MDA’s budget last fiscal year and appears poised to do the same this year.
The MDA’s FY22 request focuses on the development of future capabilities including a next-generation interceptor for homeland missile defense, a hypersonic defensive capability and space-based tracking critical to detecting threats.
The agency’s funding request came in at $8.9 billion, but lawmakers said they do not believe that is enough.
A June 11 letter from Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., and a group of eight other Republican House lawmakers, sent to House Appropriations Committee leaders, called for the full funding of a variety of missile defense priorities as well as unfunded priorities. It specifically highlighted the need to fund the HDR-H as well as a persistent, 360-degree architecture in Guam to protect it from ballistic, cruise and hypersonic missiles.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.