Pentagon promises cruise missile defense lead after lawmakers threaten salary of DOD’s No. 2

The Pentagon has promised it will soon appoint a lead agency for developing defenses against cruise missiles after a House subcommittee sought to impose restrictions on the budget of the Defense Department’s No. 2 official over the gap, the head of the subpanel said Wednesday.

House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said the Pentagon has “recently responded” and promised to designate such a lead by the end of July.

The pledge comes after Cooper included a provision in the subcommittee’s portion of the annual defense authorization bill that would limit 10 percent of the travel salary for Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks in fiscal 2023 over the inaction, a move first reported by Politico.

The issue came up during the panel’s markup of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday.


“The ongoing war in Ukraine reminds us that integrated air and missile defense is vital in modern conflicts,” Cooper said. “The mark … requires that a lead finally be established for cruise missile defense architecture of our homeland — an issue that has festered for the last five years.”

Pentagon officials have been working to finalize a strategy for the homeland defense of cruise missiles. Such missiles can be launched from aircraft, the ground or ships and travel at difficult-to-track hypersonic speeds.

No Pentagon agency or service has yet been assigned with overseeing the effort.

Cooper told Politico that the delay issue was raised by several officials in the Defense Department “as a reason some efforts to improve cruise missile defense of the homeland have stalled.”

The gap has become more apparent with Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, frequent missile tests by North Korea and China’s cruise missile advancements.

The full House Armed Services Committee plans to mark up its version of the NDAA on June 22, while the Senate is set to consider its version next week.

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