The Missile Defense Agency and the Color of Money

Fewer Resources, More Responsibility, and a Growing Budget Squeeze

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This study explores the growing competition for scarce dollars at the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA). It traces the authorities, roles, and missions assigned to the agency and the growing trend of using what was originally intended to be a research and development budget for procurement and sustainment of missile defense assets. As adversary missile arsenals develop in both size and sophistication, continued improvements to our current missile defense systems will be required to keep pace with the threat. The combination of an ever-shrinking top line and new roles and missions being assigned to MDA make that task difficult. Finding a new path forward and more clearly defining the position of the agency inside the Department of Defense will be essential for a more sustainable missile defense posture.

High resolution versions of the report graphs are available here.

Photo credit: Missile Defense Agency

Tom Karako
Senior Fellow, International Security Program and Director, Missile Defense Project

Ian Williams

Associate Fellow and Associate Director, Missile Defense Project