Dan R Allen wrote:

> > Mark:
> > If, however, you are making an oblique reference to the fall of nukes,
> > well, what good would it do to ask for US assistance?  The damage would
> > already be done.  And the US couldn't stop the missiles in any case.  NMD
> > will not work and will not be built.
> >
> > Dan:
> > Actually, it would work, (has in multiple tests),
> Marc:
> Tests that would not pass scientific scrutiny, because the criteria were
> defined
> ex post facto. Put into plain English, the tests failed miserably and the
> Pentagon went into full spin control. Not a single test missile fired from
> Kwajalein has ever hit a target when decoys were present. So the Pentagon
> simply
> took that requirement out of its criteria, and, bingo! Success!
> Dan:
> I think that you might be relying on old information about the use of
> decoys during testing.
> http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_04/testapril02.asp

Did you actually read this? While it's true that it's more up to date than the
information I had (see below), I see they're still using balloons, not real
decoys, and they still haven't developed the close-range tracking technology
necessary but are relying on shock waves, which isn't part of the design

"n the closing seconds before an intercept, the EKV relies on its infrared
sensors, as well as preprogrammed information on the objects it is expected to
see, to select the right target. Some critics object that the Pentagon is
unlikely to have as much information on future enemy warheads and decoys as it
does with its own test elements, but Pentagon officials defend the use of
preprogrammed information, explaining that they hope to have such information in
a future, real-world situation.

"Trying to deflect any criticism of the Pentagon’s approach, Deputy Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz told CNN a day after the test that, “before some critic
discovers it, this was not a realistic test,” adding that the decoys were “not as
good a decoy as we would expect to face later.” Wolfowitz stressed that the
system is only a development program at this time."

So even the spinmeister admits he's spinning.

> Complex systems require complex test plans. Testing is done in steps; as
> the requirements for that step are met, complexity is added to either the
> system being tested, or the test that it must pass. There is still a large
> number of tests that need to be conducted before the system could be
> fielded. We've barely started. The 2 failures reported in the mass media
> were instances of manufacturing failures, not design or concept failures.
> So far, other than those two, all of the missile tests have passed the
> testing requirements; proving that the portion of the concept they were
> _intended_ to validate is indeed valid.
> Could you point out where you got the information that the test firings
> have been such abject failures?

My latest information is as of 19/07/01. Sorry I have to quote the whole article
and can't just give a URL, but it's in the subscriber area of The Economist:

Missile tests

If at first you don’t succeed...
Jul 19th 2001
>From The Economist print edition

"A timely hit in space has helped the Pentagon’s case

THIS time, nobody could accuse the Pentagon of building up unrealistic
expectations. In the run-up to its fourth attempt to stop a long-range ballistic
missile as it hurtled through space on July 14th, the Defence Department insisted
again and again that it did not really matter much whether the $100m experiment

What were test failures, anyway—so the argument went—except a healthy sign that
new ideas were being tried out, and new conclusions being drawn? As Paul
Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, told Congress, all the best arms
programmes began with one setback after another. “Failure is how we learn,” he
insisted. “If a programme never suffers test failures, it means someone is not
taking enough risks or pushing the envelope.”

In fact, the test went according to plan—or so the Pentagon, very cautiously,
asserts. First an intercontinental ballistic
missile, carrying a mock warhead, was launched from an air base north of Los
Angeles. Simultaneously, a decoy balloon was fired in a similar direction. Then,
about 20 minutes later and 5,000 miles away, an interceptor rocket carrying a
small “kill vehicle” was unleashed from the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall
Islands; within eight minutes, the killer had detached itself, figured out which
was the fake target and collided with the real one at more than 16,000 miles per

Pictures relayed to the Pentagon showed an impressive flash of light; there was
cheering in the control room. True to his low-key style, Donald Rumsfeld, the
defence secretary, followed proceedings from home for the reason—his spokeswoman
said—that it was “just a test”.

Should American taxpayers be concerned, then, that not enough risks are being
taken or envelopes pushed? In one sense, yes. The target was cone-shaped, whereas
the decoy was round, and there was only one of them. In real life, there might be
lots of decoys, and they would be identical in shape to the real target.

But politically, of course, it was a pleasure to hit the target, particularly at
a time when doubts about the whole idea of sharply increased spending on missile
defences are growing among Democrats. The two tests last year were both
embarrassing failures. The first one, in October 1999, appeared to be successful
but was later pronounced a partial failure after it turned out that the
interceptor at first homed in on the decoy, not the real target. This time the
Pentagon is stressing that it will take several weeks to analyse the data from
the test and see whether everything really

In any case, the promotion of a “culture of failure” has a purpose which goes far
beyond this month’s experiment. Mr Rumsfeld has given notice of a sharp
acceleration in the pace of testing, designed to create, as quickly as possible,
an anti-missile defence system consisting of three “layers”—in other words, with
the ability to hit missiles during their ascent, at their mid-point, and on their
way down. In 2002 alone there will be ten tests, and the number could rise if
there are any setbacks. Experimental interceptor silos will be built at two sites
in Alaska.

Philip Coyle, who supervised the Pentagon’s testing programme until a few months
ago, but has since joined a left-wing lobby group, the Centre for Defence
Information, believes that his erstwhile masters should at least be given credit
for consistency. “If they are serious about acquiring layered anti-missile
defences as soon as possible, they are doing the right thing,” he says. By his
calculation, each layer will take up to 24 “developmental” tests (in other words,
tests in which the conditions are rigged to be more benign); only then can
operational tests, designed to reproduce real-life conditions, begin.

Assuming at least ten tests a year, it might be realistic to deploy a reliable
defence against a limited strike by about 2010, Mr Coyle reckons. The Pentagon
has suggested that a provisional shield might be erected much sooner, using
equipment which had not yet been fully tested. But Mr Coyle predicts that the
Pentagon’s regional  commanders-in-chief will be reluctant to take into service
assets whose reliability is still in question.

Another point on which Mr Coyle differs from his former bosses is their
contention that pursuit of an anti-missile defence system will inevitably “bump
up against” the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty within a matter of months. In his
view, the ground-based solution being tested this month can be pursued for
several more years without breaking the treaty. As for the sea-based or air-based
defences that Mr Rumsfeld also wants to develop, they would violate the treaty
(which permits only a limited number of fixed, land-based interceptors) once they
were deployed. But the Pentagon does not yet have the ability to test
treaty-busting interceptors launched from the sea or the air.

In the longer run, though, sea-based systems, designed to strike missiles during
their ascent, have big attractions. And if the Pentagon is sincere in saying that
its main concern is with unpredictable little dictatorships (all the current
examples of which happen to have coastlines), it may be possible to win Russian
assent to the deployment of interceptors at sea. It has not been a bad week for
Mr Rumsfeld.

> I detect some major spin here - based on
> personal knowledge, not relying on my "right-wing" news sources.

The spin, as the article clearly points out, has consistently been on the part of
the Pentagon.

Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and
falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
--Michelangelo Buonarroti

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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