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Scaled-Down 'Star Wars'

March 22, 1988

I read in The Times that the Defense Department plans to deploy a "scaled-down" SDI system with a goal to have it in place by 1996 and that it could cost as much as $250 billion. Even the program managers state (interpreted as the top-end performance) that this system would only be able to intercept one-fourth of the ICBMs available to the Soviet Union, leaving submarine-launched missiles and bombers unengaged.

Lately, Congress, in the need to reduce the deficit, has cut defense spending. Most of us support these cuts. But we should all be aware that these cuts are resulting in skimpy pay raises for our military, delayed promotions, decommissioned ships, deferred or eliminated major conventional warfare procurement programs, and sailors spending more time away from home.

Our military people will probably accept these sacrifices in the interest of the national good. But it seems extremely irresponsible of our national leaders to impose sacrifices on our uniformed citizens and to eliminate defense programs which offer a broad range of military utility such as aircraft and ships in favor of a "scaled-down" version of a system which has almost no military utility and at a cost which could be as much as one-third the entire defense procurement budget for four to eight years.

As a veteran and a taxpayer I am outraged that this program continues to exist while our really useful conventional warfare capabilities continue to erode.

MIKE CORNFORTH

San Diego

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