Friday, July 07, 2006

Missile Snipers?

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough present an interesting theory regarding missile defense in this morning's Inside the Ring:

We have no evidence that the U.S. was able to sabotage North Korea's Taepodong-2 missile, which malfunctioned 42 seconds into launch on Tuesday and crashed.

But we do note that special operations forces (SOF) are playing an increasing role, overt and covert, in the world under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's rule. We also note that one of the reasons that SOF procured the powerful .50- caliber Barrett's sniper rifle was to have the capability to disable ballistic missiles. It's a scenario for missile defense you won't see in any literature from the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency: insert a commando behind the lines, who positions himself within shooting range of the launchpad.

"One of the original reasons for procuring the .50-caliber sniper system was to disable missiles," a SOF source says. "A round pumped in prior to launch, or during to cover the noise, in the right place would cause a catastrophic malfunction."

If we assume, for the sake of discussion, that this scenario goes beyond mere assumption and is actually the reality; then what is commonly referred to as our missile defense system is only one link in the chain. The mere possibility that this is the case goes a long way toward easing my mind.

Of course, it would make perfect sense for the first line of our missile defense system to start at the launch pad and work backwards. I'm no expert, but I believe it would be far easier to take it out or disable it while it is sitting on the pad than to rely on hitting a moving target.

Even if this scenario doesn't exactly square with reality, I think it is still clear that at least one level of redundancy is in play here. It simply wouldn't have made much sense to rely solely on a system that has not been proven to be fully reliable as our sole means of defense against a threat that is this serious.

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