Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), member of Armed Services Committee, is about to speak at here at Heritage about missile defense. Why? Because the missiles don’t know the difference between liberals and conservatives.

No Alaskan has served on armed services since 1968. That’s surprising, because Alaska is critical on many national security issues–missile defense is just one.

UPDATE 2:21 PM: Begich believes national security is and should be a non-partisan issue. Not a surprising attitude for an Alaskan. This state has always had an international perspective. It is a hub for global trade and travel. Its a key player in natural resources. Its capitol is only nine hours by air from most of the industrialized world. General Billy Mitchell once called it “the most strategic place on earth.”

Thirty thousand US military personnel are stationed there, including F-22s and missile defenses, as well as an Army Stryker Brigade that has been deployed to Iraq.

UPDATE 2:28 PM: Begich says ground-based missile defense is the only “operational” system that can defend the US against long-range missiles. After US budget cuts were announced, North Korea has conducted 17 ballistic missile tests. Seventy percent of North Korean ballistic missile tests have happened in last few months since the US announced cuts.

UPDATE 2:35 PM: Begich is now explaining why the missile defense cuts are so troubling. The first silos built were built for tests and not meant for long-term use. They will have to be replaced. The cuts left no money to replace them. Now, at least, they’ve added back in money to replace seven silos. Plus, there was a commitment not eliminate the plan to build an additional seven. That’s good, because without that decision the Obama plan would have actually resulted in less missiles on station to defend us. So, pardon the pun… we dodged a bullet there.

UPDATE 2:38 PM: Begich is now stressing importance of missile defense testing. Testing is important. There needs to be more of it. He thinks the ninety-plus success record shows that the system is viable. Supportive of more testing vital to keep improving system glad there is money in the budget for that.