WASHINGTON — Consensus is building on Capitol Hill that the Missile Defense Agency needs to provide more clarity on its plans for a missile defense architecture to protect Guam.
The House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subpanel, in its markup of the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, will require the MDA to provide congressional defense committees a detailed report on its plans for a missile defense architecture for Guam, an acquisition strategy and requirements for funding, according to committee staff.
The MDA has yet to reveal what the missile defense architecture for Guam will look like.
The House committee has asked the MDA for a report on plans for the island for several years, but this time its subcommittee will require a report be delivered with more detail on the planned architecture and what types of threats it could engage.
According to a committee staffer, the MDA never delivered reports asked for in previous years.
The subcommittee is not planning to fence off funding in its policy bill that the MDA would need to develop a Guam missile defense capability, the staffer noted.
The committee has yet to release its markup of the FY22 authorization bill.
The Senate Armed Services Committee did not show its cards on the Guam missile defense architecture in its FY22 policy bill summary released this month and has yet to release the full report on the bill.
But House appropriators plan to cut funding to enhance missile defense in Guam due to the absence of a detailed plan from the MDA.
The agency requested $78.3 million for Guam missile defense, plus an additional $40 million to procure long-lead items in its FY22 budget request, but the House Appropriations Committee would cut it by $55.9 million.
The head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command requested $231.7 million in additional funding for Guam to move at the desired pace for fielding a system. The ask came in a list of unfunded requirements sent to Congress last month.
“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 noted 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.”
MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said the plan for a Guam missile defense capability includes the use of 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, where it has remained.
Hill acknowledged in a a 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.
While House appropriators did provide $75 million in funding for a Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii, which the agency chose not to fund in its budget request. It is unclear whether there is funding support in the HASC’s FY22 markup.
In hearings over the past several months, lawmakers across the defense committees advocated for providing Hawaii the added protection.
According to SASC’s brief summary, the committee is directing the MDA to provide a report on the capability that the HDR-H would provide against future threats.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.