- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Linda Chavez (“Testing begins,” Commentary, Monday) and Helle Dale (“Moscow’s next move,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) both referred to Russia’s intransigent attitude opposing the agreement to house a third missile-defense site in Eastern Europe. This opposition is not new, but it has been reinforced by the specificity of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposals of steps that will be taken to counteract the effectiveness of the missile interceptors.

Both columns refer to the effectiveness of the defensive system to protect ourselves and our allies against a limited attack, but they also emphasize that it presents no threat to the Russians because they still possess thousands of offensive nuclear warheads.

This is all true except for the fact that the effectiveness of the American missile-defense system still remains more a design objective than a proven fact. As a longtime advocate and supporter of missile defense, I sincerely wish that sufficient realistic tests had been undertaken to substantiate the claims of those developing the system. Too many of the system tests that have been conducted have been designed to ensure success rather than examine the limits of the system.

This failure on the part of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to undertake more rigorous testing should not provide a reason for the incoming Obama administration to modify the agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic or to reduce the funding for ballistic missile defense (BMD).

What is desperately needed is a restructuring of the MDA to bring it back into the more traditional Pentagon structure for acquisition and testing. The basis for an effective BMD has been provided; what is needed is a more cost-effective process for identifying the current capability and directing further development to enhance it.



STANLEY ORMAN

Rockville

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