As North Korean missiles soar over the Pacific, Hawaii lawmakers are preparing for a possible nuclear attack by North Korea on the U.S. state. Many Americans across the country believe policymakers in Washington have an obligation to fund systems that can protect Americans here and now.
One such lawmaker who plays a key role in Congress’ missile defense decision-making is Alabama 3rd District. U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers.
As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), Rogers was selected to serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which is specifically tasked with dealing with missile defense and nuclear weapons issues.
With tensions over North Korea’s weapons systems escalating in recent months — as North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un and his regime have launched tests of multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), some of which could reach North America — Rogers’ job in Congress in more important than ever. Especially given that North Korea recently threatened the U.S., saying it should be “beaten to death like a rabid dog” and reduced to “ashes and darkness.”
Hawaii’s leaders are relying on the U.S. missile defense system, whose interceptors are based in California and Alaska, for defense. But as missile tests continue and threats from Pyongyang feel ever more viable, the question is — are America’s missile defense systems enough to defend the Aloha State? The United States?
The top U.S. commander in the Pacific theater, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., told lawmakers on Capitol Hill in April Hawaii may not be protected from the North Korean nuclear missile threat. That America needed more radars and more interceptors in the Pacific explaining that the current system could be “overwhelmed” by an ICBM attack.
Congress heeded the Admiral’s advice in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and passed several measures to bolster Hawaiian missile defense including the Homeland Discrimination Radar Hawaii (HDR-HI), but the billion dollar project could take near a decade to fully develop.
Nevertheless, some experts believe it’s too little for a short-term threat of an attack by North Korea.
Steve Bucci, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said just that.
“I’d love to say we have six months, a year, five years, to build in the improvements and then that would be more than adequate, but that’s just not the truth right now,” Bucci told the Washington Free Beacon (WFB). “We have no idea when Kim Jong Un is going to shoot a missile at Hawaii.
Rogers agrees. In August, he sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to support the additional missile defense funding in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) saying North Korea’s ICBM tests “present an increased threat to our homeland, regional stability, and the 28,500 American service members and their families deployed to the Korean Peninsula.”
“This proposed funding would enhance reliability and discrimination capabilities for homeland missile defense by developing space-based sensors for discrimination and increasing the number of ground-based interceptors necessary for spares and tests, increase funding for missile defense technology research, and increase procurement of THAAD and Patriot interceptors,” Rogers explained in the letter.
The NDAA is being completed now and should land on President Trump’s desk for signature soon. It remains to be seen if there is any additional funding provided for the protection of Hawaii beyond the long-term radar project.