As a Navy veteran and chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, I have serious concerns about the proposed decrease in our national defense system and military response capabilities ("U.S. joins South Korea in show of force with B-2 bomber," Web, March 28).
After North Korea's latest nuclear test and threat to bury America in a "sea of fire," we should be strengthening our defenses. I believe that forward-deploying B-2s is making progress. However, President Obama proposes to cut our nuclear deterrent in half and his "sequestration" plan could further weaken our missile defense.
Any decrease in our nuclear defense could increase proliferation by forcing allies, such as Japan and South Korea, to pursue building their own nuclear capability. This is because our support has weakened, possibly making the B-2 exercise impossible. This could turn the Asian-Pacific region into a nuclear tinderbox over the most minor territorial disputes.
Cutting funds for missile defense would also leave our West Coast vulnerable. The ground-based midcourse defense network provides our only defense against a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile. Once politically controversial, Democrats and Republicans now agree we must have a strong ballistic missile safety net.
The Department of Defense has decided to deploy more defensive interceptors to the West Coast, but as North Korea increases its nuclear ICBM capacity we must strengthen our ground-based system against decoys and counter-measures. This capability is also needed on the East Coast to deal with hostile relations with Iran.
While cutting these defenses might shave a fraction off the deficit, it would critically diminish our national security at precisely the wrong moment.
STATE REP. STEPHEN E. BARRAR
Chairman, Pennsylvania Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee
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