Stevens questions Navy's push for sea-based missile defense

Posted: Sunday, April 08, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Sen. Ted Stevens said he's concerned about the fate of the national missile defense proposal that would base key components in Alaska.

The Bush Administration has not yet decided whether to follow through on the Clinton administration's proposal for a land-based system or come up with a new plan. In the meantime, the Navy has stepped up lobbying for a sea-based system, Stevens said.

''There's a sizeable group of people now who feel that the Navy should go forward with its area and theater defense concepts to the detriment of funding the currently-planned national missile defense system. And if they succeed, they would try to evolve a theater-wide system into a national defense system at a later date,'' Stevens told reporters Friday.

Stevens, who is chairman of the Senate's defense appropriations subcommittee, said he thinks a sea-based system would be a step backward.

''What they're really saying, in my opinion, is 'We can defend the 48 states' -- that the two senators from Hawaii and Alaska were not right in insisting that this be a national missile defense system. It's going to get very personal, I think, before we're through. But I'm worried very much about what's happening,'' he said.

Stevens said the Pentagon needs to rein in the Navy and get on top of inter-service jockeying for the lead role in missile defense.

The plan proposed by the Clinton administration would include a powerful new X-band radar on Shemya Island in the Aleutians and up to 100 ballistic missile interceptors based in Interior Alaska.

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