: http://www.al.com:80/politics/huntsvilletimes/index.ssf?/base/news/1232792187244340.xml&coll=1 Griffith: Can't cut missile tests
Saturday, January 24, 2009
By Kenneth KesnerThe Huntsville Times (Alabama) He says Congress grasps importance of defense work
There is recognition in Washington that missile defense programs are vital to national security as other countries and groups continue testing and buying new weapons, U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith said, and that will help protect work in Huntsville as budgets are affected by the economic crisis.
"In the world we are living in today, our defense of our country and of our friends and producing the weaponry and missile defense capabilities have never been more important," he said. "Every time we hear or see Iran test a missile, Huntsville, Alabama, becomes more important."
In his first trip home since being sworn in Jan. 6, the freshman Democratic congressman met Friday morning with local leaders from Boeing, Northrop Grumman and other companies.
"There's a lot of anxiety about what attitude the new administration may take toward missile defense and the military in general," Griffith said. "But we are hearing a lot of positive comments, both from our industry groups and our administration."
He said campaign rhetoric appears yielding to the hard-core reality of what the world is like. So far, he has found Republicans and Democrats cooperative and supportive, at least when it comes to protecting the nation.
The 2009 defense budget is pretty much set, Griffith said. He and other representatives - including members of a bipartisan Missile Defense Caucus - will work to establish missile defense as part of the foundation of what is most important to the United States in future budgets.
"We've got a lot of people in Congress who think just like we do," he said. "My job is to bring them together, bring them to Huntsville, show them what is here if they haven't already been here, and convince them that we're on the right track."
Because of the tough economy, some people may call to "slow down" spending on these programs and focus elsewhere, but that is a dangerous attitude, he said.
"When you're in the missile defense arena ... you really can't slow down your research and development. You really can't slow down your testing," Griffith said. "You really have to have a consistent budgetary process that doesn't wax and wane, so to speak, so that our military and our companies can count on it every year."
What message did missile defense leaders want Griffith to carry back to Capitol Hill? That our nation will be challenged by growing missile and weapon programs in China and Russia, by radical Islam in the Middle East, and by threats elsewhere.
"That we're prepared to meet those challenges, but we must emphasize research and development," he said. "And we must emphasize education, particularly education in the sciences and mathematics."
Otherwise, the United States won't continue be the dominant force in space, militarily and technologically.
"We know we're in a huge financial crisis," he said. "But we also recognize the fact that it's going to be temporary. It may last two years, it may last three years, but we're going to work our way out of that.
"At the same time, we can't take our eye off of how important research and development" are to our security and future, Griffith said. "So we're going to do both. We're going to get ourselves out of this financial crisis and we're going to maintain a strong military." Source