The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s panel on strategic forces on Wednesday said the Defense Department will designate a lead for homeland cruise missile defense by the end of July.
A provision in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 defense authorization act requires the Defense Department to designate an acquisition authority with responsibility for developing an architecture for protection of the U.S. homeland from cruise missile threats, which it still has not done.
Last year, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy Leonor Tomero said the administration was looking at finally
designating the lead single authority after noting the Trump administration decided to not designate the authority despite the legislation (Defense Daily, June 16, 2021).
“My understanding is the previous administration looked at it and decided not to designate a single authority. We do understand that there are capability gaps. We need to look at where and how to prioritize cruise missile defense of the homeland,” Tomero said.
Tomero noted the Congressional Budget Office identified costs ranging from $75 billion to $180 billion over 20 years in acquisition, operationalization and long term maintenance of such a defense system.
The subcommittee’s mark for the FY 2023 defense authorization bill aims to now pressure the Defense Department to finally designate the organization by freezing 90 percent of funds for travel by the Deputy Secretary of Defense “until the Secretary of Defense designates a military department or Defense Agency with acquisition authority with respect to the capability to defend the homeland from cruise missiles.”
However, subcommittee chairman Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said in his opening statement during the markup that this pressure has seemingly worked.