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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: U.S. still waiting for better missile defense

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In a recent Washington Times Op-Ed, Ed Feulner notes that 10 years after withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT), the United States still lacks an adequate missile defense system ("Decade after the ABM Treaty's end," Commentary, Tuesday). Mr. Feulner is correct, but the situation is more complex and more important than he outlined.

As longtime supporters of missile defense, we wrote a piece back in June of 1993 explaining that the ABMT was a barrier to an effective missile defense system. We repeated this theme in articles and letters over the years until America withdrew from the treaty in 2002. We had hoped the withdrawal would lead to a significant enhancement in capabilities for homeland defense, but this expectation has not been met. Instead, the United States has concentrated on shorter-range threats and improved systems to counter those, and our focus remains far from homeland defense.

After withdrawing from the ABMT, then-President George W. Bush pushed hard for an early deployment of ground-based missiles in Alaska. Although this was accomplished, it was done using a highly concurrent acquisition strategy that led to the discovery of design problems during production. This resulted in the fielding of equipment needing retrofits. There has since been a reluctance to test the system under realistic conditions, so we remain uncertain of the capability we possess.

For some reason, the Obama administration seems far less concerned with defending American soil against potential missile attacks than with deploying defenses against shorter-range missiles in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Mr. Feulner is right that the policy of mutual assured destruction (MAD) should have died long ago, but sadly, much of our current muddled policy can still be characterized as mad.

STANLEY ORMAN

Rockville

EUGENE FOX

Plano, Texas

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