Rebeccah Heinrichs says we should take ballistic missile defense seriously (“It’s time to get serious about missile defense,” Dec. 20). Fortunately, some of us have taken the subject seriously since President Reagan introduced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in March 1983, almost 30 years ago. It has been an uphill battle for those of us who recognized the potential of missile defense to provide an alternative to an instant and overwhelming response to an unprovoked attack.
For years, critics insisted that the concept of hitting a bullet with a bullet was impossible. Even after American technology developed and proved the hit-to-kill capability, others suggested that the enemy easily could deploy decoys with warheads, thereby outwitting a defense. In truth, the development and deployment of decoys that appear to the defense to mirror warheads is far more complex than critics thought. Like other criticisms, it was a further attempt to dissuade our government from deploying an effective ballistic missile defense (BMD).
Fortunately, the recent attack on Israel from Gaza proved the effectiveness and the value of a defense. We have yet to see how well this lesson has been learned by the Obama administration, although the defense budget passed by the House, which includes funding for the study of a third BMD launch site on the East Coast, suggests that some have grasped the potential.
We hope the irony of Israel proving to the world that BMD can be effective will not be lost on our leaders. The concept of BMD was introduced in the United States, and since then, this country has spent more than $160 billion developing systems. Our efforts have not been sufficiently focused, so despite that expenditure, our defenses remain inferior to those of Israel. Its successive governments recognized the threat they faced and tailored investment to meet their needs. Will we now learn from Israel and follow their example?