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Missile Agency Head Details Progress to Congress

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2002 – The Defense Department's aggressive missile defense testing program will continue with a test launch March 15, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish told Congress Feb. 27.

Kadish testified before a joint hearing of the House military procurement and research and development subcommittees about his agency's budget and plans.

About $7.5 billion in President Bush's Fiscal 2003 Budget Request is slated for missile defense. This is about the same funding level as in fiscal 2002, but the program has been restructured. The United States' withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty will ease some restraints on the program.

Kadish noted that his office the former Ballistic Missile Defense Organization has morphed into the Missile Defense Agency, but said the basic mission has not changed. He told the representatives that the agency's objective "is to develop a missile defense that's effective to protect our country, our deployed forces, our friends and our allies."

Kadish showed the congressmen videotape detailing recent successes and failures of the agency. He said tests prove the technology will work. He talked the representatives through the various programs ranging from boost-phase Airborne Laser to the exoatmospheric kill vehicle.

Kadish's agency has learned that the technologies are sound, but there are major technical challenges ahead, the general said. Engineering the technologies into a coherent and expansive system is difficult and unlike anything the government has tried before. "As a result, we have changed our approach to develop and are moving more to a capabilities-based approach rather than a requirements- based approach for this acquisition," Kadish said. "Some have interpreted this as doing away with requirements or doing away with discipline in general. That is not the case."

The new approach does away with specific military requirements that show up in an operational requirements document. He said the old ORD approach worked well with traditional procurements, but won't be as effective with missile defense, "because many of our technologies are cutting-edge."

The capabilities approach allows planners to be flexible in designing and planning systems. "At this moment we don't yet know all the technical approaches that will work best," Kadish said. "Five years ago, we could not have foreseen, let alone written, all the uses defining today's Internet. We always face the risk of being surprised by changes in the threat, but a capabilities-based approach allows us to adjust to those changes in a way the traditional requirements-based approach does not."

The changes will allow any system to remain technologically current because the system can be enhanced over time, Kadish said.

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