Air Force Lt. General Henry Obering III officiated at the commissioning of the $44.4 million building, which will accommodate 1,000 MDA workers as part of a base realignment initiative that will see about 5,500 agency employees move to the Tennessee Valley by 2011. Some 8,500 people currently work for the MDA.
"This is the physical manifestation of the first major milestone of MDA's move to the Tennessee Valley," he said. Since June, the Redstone Arsenal has been the headquarters of the Space and Missile Defense Command.
Congress recently adopted a resolution making the creation of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system official government policy, and has allocated some $8.6 billion in the 2008 budget for its development.
The proposed system, which the U.S. claims is designed to counter threats from so-called "rogue states," has been received coolly by Russia, especially as it involves the deployment of radar and missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, two former Soviet-bloc allies.
Russian military and government officials have called the move provocative and a threat to the country's national security, and President Vladimir Putin recently sought to ease tensions by proposing the joint use of a radar facility Russia leases in Azerbaijan.
The inauguration of the MDA building has coincided with a two-day visit to Washington of a Russian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak to discuss the proposed ABM system. Talks are set to continue Tuesday.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.