The Missile Defense Agency’s response to a congressional mandate to explain how it would improve the national missile defense system after a long series of test failures does not provide the details necessary for Congress to appraise the effectiveness of MDA’s program, the Government Accountability Office reported July 17. In the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill, Congress ordered the Pentagon to provide its plan to correct problems in the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System (GMD) after three consecutive test failures. The GMD system of warning sensors and 30 silo-based interceptors is the main national defense against intercontinental ballistic missile attacks. GAO said the Pentagon’s response, delivered seven months late, “described actions to improve homeland missile defense and was generally responsive to the mandate, but it did not detail the effects of these actions, if any, on the GMD system.” Without those details, GAO said, Congress may not have the information needed “to make difficult choices on where to spend limited funds.” MDA conducted a new test of the missile defense system June 23 and reported that the revised kill vehicle propelled into space by the ground-based interceptor and destroyed the simulated ICBM. (GAO report.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.