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Begich Highlights Importance of Alaska’s Missile Defense

Senator asked to address national meeting of missile defense experts

Stressing the continued importance of Alaska's Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system in defending the country against rogue nations, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today spoke to a conservative group of officials from government, academia and industry focused on evolving threats to the United States. The Independent Working Group (IWG) was formed in 2002 to review missile defense requirements in the 21st century and make recommendations for a robust, layered missile defense for the United States.

"Our nation faces very serious Intercontinental Ballistic Missile threats from North Korea and Iran," Begich said. "Alaska has a long history of being on America's front lines and continues as the nation's first line of defense against an ICBM threat."

Begich reminded the group the Ballistic Missile Defense Review concluded Iran and North Korea will have ICBM's capable of reaching the United States at some point in the not-too-distant future and recent intelligence reports suggest Iran could have the capability of launching an ICBM in just two years.

"We can't afford to be responsive to a missile attack on American soil, the results would be catastrophic. We must be prepared ahead of the threat," Begich said.

Begich outlined his efforts, despite objections from the Obama administration, to work with other senators in successfully gaining support to secure and promote the completion of Missile Field Two at Alaska's Fort Greely, to ensure the capacity for defense. He added as the administration revises its approach to missile defense in Europe, ballistic missile defense investments should remain consistent for all ranges of threats against the United States.

"Right now GMD is the only system capable of defending against an ICBM. It's reliable and valid, that's why we need to continue investments in the program," Begich said.

Begich called for more robust GMD testing, more research and development dollars, and a solid sustainment plan for GMD. The GMD program provides more than 500 jobs in Alaska and injects approximately $65 million a year into the economy.

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