From: CNN Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre
Subject: Cohen: Pentagon 'Slipping' On Modernization
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen delivered a spirited defense today of the U.S.-Russian accord concluded in Helsinki, and warned that the Pentagon is "slipping" in efforts to keep its weapons up-to-date.
In a luncheon address in Washington, Cohen said the accord "cuts the Gordian knot" distinguishing between so-called National Missile Defense, limited by the ABM treaty, and Theater Missile Defense.
Cohen disputed the arguments by some Republicans that the U.S. made a concession to the Russians by agreeing to prohibit space-based missile interceptors.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a concession," Cohen said. "It is simply a recognition there's no such thing as a space-based TMD [Theater Missile Defense] interceptor that's capable of knocking down a theater missile. By its very nature it is capable of taking out ICBMs, which is of course precluded by the ABM treaty. So this provision has given up nothing, it has given up zero. It simply confirms the fact of where we are today."
Cohen restated his previous public assertions the Helsinki agreement "does not impinge on the development, testing or deployment" of any of planned Theater Missile Defense systems currently planned by the Pentagon.
But Cohen said the United States needs to spend more to develop future weapons, warning, "The fact of the matter is we have slipped on modernization. We have continued to push modernization further and further into the future, which means we've got a much steeper hill to climb."
Cohen said the Pentagon needs to spend $60 billion of its $250 billion on new improved weapons and systems.
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