- - Sunday, April 26, 2020

In “Mike Pompeo accuses China of withholding samples needed to track evolution of coronavirus” (Web, April 22), Bill Gertz reports a change of plans by Richard Soofer, deputy assistant secretary for nuclear and missile defense policy. Mr. Gertz notes that in the recent Missile Defense Review the focus changed from limited regional defenses to preparing to counter a much wider range of missile threats.

It seems strange that as experienced a reporter as Mr. Gertz has forgotten that the original introduction of the Strategic Defense Initiative by President Reagan in 1983 had the same objective. Shortly after the formation of the Strategic Defense Iinitiative Organization, the objective for missile defense was stated as the ability to intercept missiles of all ranges from wherever they are launched. The real objective was to protect the United States, our armed forces and our allies’ territory. Later presidents changed the near-term objectives of the program to concentrate on the threat posed by rogue and regional potential adversaries, but the basic objectives have never been modified.

Also overlooked in Mr. Gertz’s recent report is that one aim was to develop an integrated program linking the early developments of the Army and the Navy. It was recognized that without the production of an overarching architecture we would not be able to achieve an effective defense.

Under the leadership of Ambassador Hank Cooper, the organization was making significant progress on a space-based asset that would have to be incorporated into any system meeting the long-standing requirements for an effective defense. Such a component was rejected early in the 1990s by Congress as politically unacceptable.

Sadly, the so-called change in objectives reported for the modified program still omits this overriding requirement. We continue to move forward with a program that cannot succeed.


Rockville, Md.

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