Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

Earlier this year Secretary of Defense Robert Gates released a defense budget request that cut missile defense by $1.4 billion. But that was before Iran launched a two-stage ballistic missile and North Korea detonated a nuclear device. These facts seem to have changed some thinking in Washington, including Secretary Gates’. The AP reports:

Gates said the missile tests by North Korea over the past week appear to have attracted more support on Capitol Hill for missile interceptors.

He said he’s requested nearly $1 billion in the 2010 fiscal budget to develop and maintain those missile interceptors. But the Pentagon’s spending plan halts a planned expansion of the missile defense system at Fort Greely.

Gates called that “not a forever decision.”

“And if capabilities in one of these rogue states should develop faster or in a more worrisome way than anybody anticipates right now, then I think the way is opened in the future to add to the number of silos and interceptors up here,” he said.

Why should Americanshave to be surprised by rogue states before they get adequate missile defense funding? If it might make us vulnerable in the future, why make the first $1.4 billion cut at all?