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Explanation for Iranian Jet Tragedy

September 03, 1988

I found your editorial "Tragedy Without Blame" (Aug. 23) quite intriguing. While I agree that the stress of combat is not an adequate explanation for the faulty conclusions aboard the U.S. cruiser Vincennes that led to the destruction of the Iranian airliner, I do not think that the concept of "blame" really applies to this incident. The effectiveness of any system cannot be judged when the system is not being used properly.

Our naval forces in the Persian Gulf have been designed for wartime combat. Peacetime combat, on the other hand, is a contradiction both in terminology and practice. We cannot continue to send an inadequate contingent of our armed forces into a combat zone and expect that no one will get killed. Our Navy has not been designed to fight these battles, and certainly no one would question the shooting down of an unidentified aircraft launched by a hostile nation that was heading toward a ship involved in a naval battle had this been an actual "war zone."

There are only two ways to make our naval weapons systems effective: Either we must devote millions into redesigning our Navy in preparation for this type of combat, or else our leaders must realize that we cannot continue to half-heartedly intervene in international conflicts. Rather than make everyone stop shooting at the sight of the Stars and Stripes, this type of action only serves to fuel conflicts, alienate our allies, endanger U.S. personnel, and threaten embarrassing "mistakes" as was inevitable on board the Vincennes.

ROGER K. WEISS

Tarzana

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