Missile officials wait for intent on extra money

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) Sen. Ted Stevens' proposed $200 million increase in spending for ground-based missile interceptors would provide money beyond what President Bush's budget projected was necessary to have 16 interceptor silos at Fort Greely by the end of 2005.

A Missile Defense Agency spokesman, in response to questions from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, said the agency already had programmed enough money into its budget requests to cover the 16 silos.

The spokesman also reiterated that the military is unsure about how it would spend the $200 million if it survives a House-Senate conference committee on the Defense Department spending bill for next year.

Currently, the money is only in the Senate version of the bill.

''From the 'one-sentence' description provided by the committee, it is very difficult to ascertain just what the intent of the Congress is for these funds,'' MDA spokesman Chris Taylor said last week. ''We expect that the conference report may provide further clarification.''

Taylor indicated that the money was not needed to reach the goal of 16 interceptor silos. President Bush already had requested enough money in his budgets to get those done, Taylor said.

The initial six silos already under construction at Greely are being built with funds from fiscal years 2002 through 2004, Taylor said. The Corps of Engineers in April 2002 issued a contract to Fluor Alaska worth up to $325 million for work at Greely and elsewhere.

In December 2002, President Bush called for 10 more silos at Fort Greely by the end of 2005. He also said he wanted the site capable of limited defense against enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles by the end of 2004.

''The additional 10 silos are being completed with $1.045 billion in a combination of (fiscal year) '04 and '05 funds as outlined in the GMD portion of the president's budget,'' Taylor said.

While Taylor says the military is not sure what the $200 million is for, Stevens said the military actually requested it. So the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he leads, obliged, he said.

The money did not increase overall missile defense spending because the committee cut an equivalent amount of money from a different segment of the program.

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