While it may sound as though the Obama Administration is doing a lot to develop adequate defenses against the growing ballistic missile threat, this is not really the case. The budget for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the organization responsible for both developing new capabilities against ballistic missiles and acquiring current systems, was sharply reduced at the start of President Obama’s first term and has stagnated ever since.
As a consequence, the agency is caught between the competing requirements to develop new and improved sensors, weapons and battle management systems, to produce enough interceptors now to meet the current threat and to fund procurement of spare parts to keep already deployed systems operational.
In addition, the Administration has shortchanged funding for the new SM-3 Block IIA, a system designed to take on precisely the advanced theater ballistic missile threats already deployed by Russia and China and under development in North Korea and Iran.
The proposed funding profile will result in a one year production hiatus, impacting not only the deployment of this much-needed capability but also increasing the cost for follow-on missiles. On top of cancelling the plan to develop a variant of the SM-3, the IIB, capable of intercepting ICBMs, the treatment of SM-3 in each defense budget proposed by this Administration belies President Obama’s strong rhetoric. The Administration needs to heed Congressional sentiments and significantly enhance its spending on SM-3.
It looks as though President Obama will leave office with a decidedly mixed record when it comes to dealing with the ballistic missile threat...chronic underfunding has left the Pentagon falling farther behind the growing ballistic missile threat. In addition, the Administration’s failed attempts to contain North Korea’s and Iran’s ballistic missile programs only makes the problem of dealing with the threat more difficult.
Iran's supreme leader on Monday warned the U.S. military to stay out of the Persian Gulf, where it has an aircraft carrier strike group.
"What are you doing here? Go back to the Bay of Pigs. Go and hold exercises there. What are you doing in the Persian Gulf? The Persian Gulf is our home," said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to semi-official news agency Fars News.
Khamenei also said Tehran would continue military drills in the region, regardless of U.S. opposition. The two nations both operate in the Persian Gulf, which Iran considers its backyard.
The two nations have had run-ins, including in January when 10 U.S. sailors aboard two boats drifted into Iran's territorial waters and were detained.
"Today, the enemies utter words bigger than their mouths; for instance they develop plans to bring to a halt Iran's military wargames in the Persian Gulf, what a foolish remark," Khamenei said at a gathering of teachers.
"The Persian Gulf is the Iranian nation's home and the Persian Gulf and a large section of the Sea of Oman belong to this powerful nation; therefore, we should be present in the region, hold wargames and display our power and it is the Americans who should say why they have come from that side of the world and stage drills in here," he added.
U.S. military leaders have pledged to keep an eye on Iran despite the international nuclear deal Iran and six powers agreed to last July.