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Begich Says Missile Defense Decision Elevates Alaska’s Importance

Calls on DOD to review impact on GMD at Fort Greely

The Obama administration's decision to cancel deployment of a European-based missile defense system makes full deployment of Alaska's ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system even more vital for the nation's defense, Senator Mark Begich said today.

A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Begich said America's defense against missiles launched by nations such as North Korea and Iran will now largely rely on the missile defense system at Fort Greely.

"Assuming the President's decision to cancel missile system deployment in Europe is final, Alaska's GMD system must be fully deployed and properly maintained to protect America from attacks by rogue states," Begich said. "I look forward to receiving a full explanation from the Obama administration on this decision and how it proposes to maintain Alaska's defense system."

President Obama announced that his administration will cancel the long-planned missile defense deployment to Poland and the Czech Republic because of changes in the potential threat from Iran and advances in the detection systems. The President said the U.S. will address potential threats through other systems, such as the sea-based Aegis Weapons System, the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor and advanced sensors.

Begich has long called for full deployment of 44 missiles at Fort Greely, which can hit incoming attack missiles from North Korea in the west and Iran from the East. Although the administration had planned to terminate further construction activities on missile defense systems at Fort Greely, Sen. Begich was successful in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act in ensuring the completion of Fort Greely's Missile Field #2 in a seven missile-silo configuration. Sen. Begich's amendment will leverage the investments already made, avoid cost increases and provide Fort Greely with increased capacity.

The bill also includes a "sense of the Senate" provision that GMD should be an operationally effective system capable of defending the U.S. from the threat of long-range ballistic missile attacks.  With the change in the European deployment announced today, Begich called on the Defense Department to expand already-planned DOD reviews to consider the implications for the GMD system currently deployed at Fort Greely.

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