Experts, legislators give missile defense its day on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON – You don’t expect to see defense weapons on Capitol Hill, let alone inside a building, but two life-size missile models greeted attendees of the Missile Defense Day on the Hill event, held Wednesday, April 11, at the Russell Senate Office Building.
The models from Raytheon were a great set to the daylong event, which featured various experts, military leaders and legislators discussing policy and direction aside the challenges of defending the nation. The National Defense Industrial Association and the office of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) hosted the event.
About 200 people visited in the Kennedy Caucus Room throughout the day to hear remarks on trends and future challenges. Among speakers were Thomas Karako, senior fellow with the International Security Program and director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Rebeccah Heinrichs, fellow at the Hudson Institute and vice chairman of the John Hay Initiative’s Counter-proliferation Working Group; and Navy Rear Adm. John Hill, deputy director of the Missile Defense Agency.
Five of the key contractors in missile defense – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon – displayed their products and discussed their visions of the future of missile defense, which Congress gave a boost of about $3 billion in the fiscal year 2018 spending bill.
The concluding reception started with remarks from Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who voiced his support and advocacy of critical investments in missile defense. Lamborn co-chairs the House Missile Defense Caucus and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and its subcommittees on strategic forces and on emerging threats and capabilities.
“The time for delays is over, because the threat has voted,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency, during his remarks. North Korea has demonstrated its capability, for instance.
“We have clear and unambiguous direction from the president to expand,” Greaves said. “This agency is built for speed.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) struck a chord when she told attendees every trip home finds her confronted by constituents who talk about their ordeals over Hawaii’s false missile threat alert in January. One man who got the alert, she said, told her he put his daughter down a storm drain to protect her.
“Our hope is that with a strong missile defense, we don’t get to that point,” Gabbard said.
Wesley Hallman, NDIA senior vice president for policy, is available to discuss the organization’s stand on missile defense and advocacy plans. For questions, more information or to set up an interview with Hallman, contact Evamarie Socha, firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 247-2579.