The US intelligence community needs more analytic capabilities to figure out what countries such as North Korea are doing and why they are doing it, the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee said in its markup of the 2010 defense authorization bill.
"During recent briefings, it was brought to my attention that we have insufficient analytical capabilities and resources to keep pace with these developing systems. This is an important provision, especially given recent events in North Korea and Iran," said the panel's top Republican, Rep. Mike Turner.
The draft bill says the Pentagon and intelligence community must prepare a plan to ensure that the appropriate intelligence centers have sufficient analytical capabilities to address such gaps.
Several controversial space programs got whacked or put on close watch by the subcommittee.
“Because we are concerned about whether certain programs can be executed on schedule and within cost, the mark makes reductions in the Third Generation Infrared Satellite System and the High Integrity GPS program," Rep. Ellen Tauscher, chaiman of the panel, said in her opening remarks. A congressional aide said all money was stripped from the GPS program, which used to be known as iGPS. This year marked the first time that Boeing managed to get this program made a part of the baseline budget. In 2008, the company signed a $153.5-million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to keep working on the system. It uses the Iridium communications satellite system to provide jam-resistant GPS signals but congressional aides ahve viewed it as back door for Iridium to gain government funding for its next generation of comms satellites.
The subcommittee's mark also calls for an $88.1 million cut from the adminstration's request of $471.4 million for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Tauscher said the country needs one less launch vehicle than the administration budgeted for.
In one of the smallest, but symboilically important gestures, the subcommittee “wants $23 million stuck on the budget for ORS Sat-1, the first satellite developed diretcly as part of the Operationally Responsive Space program. The ORS effort was shoved down the throat of the Air Force to try and break the cultural stranglehold its satellite and rocket shop, SMC, had on the country's space assets.
On missile defense, the subcommittee basically supported the administration's budget request. It adds $20.5 million to the short-range US-Israeli missile defense program known as David’s Sling, taking the money from MDA's headquarters funding.
It also orders a close eye kept on another US-Israeli missile defense program, Arrow-3. The program is considered a "high risk" effort by analysts according to a congressional aide. “The required report must also discuss alternative paths, such as the land-based SM-3 system, that the Department of Defense is examining to assist Israel in developing an upper-tier missile defense capability, should Arrow-3 miss its schedule and knowledge points," Tauscher said.