Pentagon Offers Insufficient Data On Antimissile Test Options: Auditors

None

Technicians prepare a Ground Based Interceptor for emplacement into Missile Field 2 at Fort Greely, Alaska, in February 2012. A new audit criticizes the Pentagon for not providing sufficient information about its testing plan for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
See more stories about...
Rachel Oswald
May 1, 2014, 10:53 a.m.

Con­gres­sion­al aud­it­ors say the Pentagon is not giv­ing Con­gress ad­equate in­form­a­tion about its plan for test­ing a troubled stra­tegic mis­sile de­fense sys­tem.

In­form­a­tion provided by the De­fense De­part­ment on op­tions for con­duct­ing ad­di­tion­al tests of the Ground-Based Mid­course De­fense sys­tem is not nearly com­pre­hens­ive enough to give law­makers a sol­id un­der­stand­ing of the be­ne­fits and risks of pur­su­ing dif­fer­ent de­vel­op­ment and test­ing strategies, the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice said in a Wed­nes­day re­port.

The Ground-Based Mid­course De­fense sys­tem con­sists of 30 Ground Based In­ter­cept­ors de­ployed at two states — Cali­for­nia and Alaska — and a sup­port­ing net­work of sensors that sup­ply in­form­a­tion about po­ten­tial bal­list­ic mis­sile threats. It is the coun­try’s prin­cip­al de­fense against a lim­ited long-range mis­sile at­tack. In re­sponse to the evolving stra­tegic mis­sile threat posed by North Korea, the Pentagon in­tends to field an ad­di­tion­al 14 in­ter­cept­ors in Alaska by the end of fisc­al 2017.

However, the GMD sys­tem has not had a suc­cess­ful in­ter­cept test since 2008. The most re­cent at­temp­ted in­ter­cept in sum­mer 2013 was aimed at prov­ing that fixes to the in­ter­cept­or’s front-end Exoat­mo­spher­ic Kill Vehicle were work­ing. It ended up re­veal­ing ad­di­tion­al prob­lems, though, with the mis­sile’s rock­et boost­er tech­no­logy.

The Pentagon’s Mis­sile De­fense Agency was ordered by Con­gress in the fisc­al 2013 De­fense Au­thor­iz­a­tion Act to provide law­makers with a re­port on the test­ing plan for the stra­tegic an­ti­mis­sile sys­tem. The as­sess­ment was to high­light the “feas­ib­il­ity, ad­vis­ab­il­ity, and cost ef­fect­ive­ness of ac­cel­er­at­ing GMD’s test­ing pace,” the re­port states.

Con­gress’ in­tern­al watch­dog found that the re­port provided by the Pentagon looked at just one test­ing op­tion — re­design­ing and test­ing the di­vert thrusters of the kill vehicle, which help to steer the com­pon­ent while in flight. But even in as­sess­ing that com­pon­ent, the De­fense De­part­ment’s re­port in­cluded sparse in­form­a­tion about op­tions re­lated to cost and sched­ule.

The GAO aud­it­ors also found that due to the Ju­ly 2013 in­ter­cept fail­ure, which in­volved an earli­er ver­sion of the kill vehicle, it would be “pre­ma­ture” for the Mis­sile De­fense Agency to make de­cisions about the sched­ule and nature of fur­ther test­ing of the EKV com­pon­ent un­til an on­go­ing re­view of the failed test is fin­ished.

The re­port con­cluded that the Pentagon was un­likely to be able to suc­cess­fully speed up the pace of test­ing the Ground-Based Mid­course De­fense sys­tem, due to its pre­vi­ous test­ing his­tory and the in­creas­ing com­plex­ity of the next planned tri­als.

What We're Following See More »
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
2 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 days ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
IT’S ALL ABOUT SECOND PLACE
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.

Source:
×