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RAF MILDENHALL, England — A day before the Obama administration announced its intent to scrap the controversial European missile defense shield, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report calling for better Pentagon stewardship overall for missile defense programs worldwide.

In its Sept. 16 report for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee, the GAO found that the Pentagon had not taken a big-picture look at the technical and manning needs of various costly missile defense efforts around the world that collectively fall under the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

As such, the report notes, the Defense Department is missing a foundation for making sound decisions about what will be required for the various missile defense initiatives.

"Without a full assessment of its overall requirements, DOD lacks the information it needs to make the best possible policy, strategy and budgetary decisions for ballistic missile defense," the report states.

While combatant commands have analyzed missile defense needs by region, as have certain service branches, no overall analysis has been conducted, according to the GAO.

In some cases, the Pentagon put missile defense elements into use before first ensuring that the military services had created units and trained troops to operate the systems, according to the GAO, even though the DOD typically requires that major weapons systems be fielded with a full array of organized and trained personnel.

"Unless fully trained units are in place to support missile defense elements when they are made operational, DOD will continue to face uncertainties and operational risks associated with these elements," according to the report.

The Pentagon began "developing and rapidly fielding" the Ballistic Missile Defense System in 2002 when former President George W. Bush made it a national priority, according to the report.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency requested $7.8 billion in funding for fiscal 2010, down from the $9 billion it received in fiscal 2009. The agency averaged $8.35 billion in funding annually since 2002, according to the agency Web site.

The GAO report recommends that the Pentagon conduct a comprehensive analysis of the missile defense system. The Defense Department "generally agreed" with the GAO’s prescriptions, the report states.


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