U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) indicated that given the budget challenges facing Congress, difficult decisions must be made regarding the resources required to continue missile defense development for the United States. “Our challenge is to make sure we’re doing what we need to do to protect ourselves against missile attacks and to take advantage of emerging technologies that can be utilized as soon as reasonably possible given the constraints to the budget,” Cochran said. Cochran sought information from MDA director, Vice Admiral James Syring on the whether the budget request is sufficient to continue development and deployment of missile defense programs, including enhanced radar capabilities and the potential for a sea-based option to defend the eastern United States. The subcommittee also examined the administration’s decision to increase the number of operational ground based interceptors from 30 to 44 to enhance the nation’s national missile defense posture. The Department of Defense in April announced a new missile defense strategy in light of continued efforts by North Korea to test its nuclear capabilities and long-range launch vehicles. The MDA mission also takes into account the ability of Iran to launch satellites into space, which indicates it has the capability to develop a long range ballistic missile.