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In The Loop
Posted at 01:18 PM ET, 05/16/2012

Missile Defense: Where to put the interceptors? (A Loop Contest)


North Korea’s long-range rocket launch last month was a bust. But they’ll keep trying. (The Associated Press)
The House is scheduled this week to take up a bill that would require the Pentagon to start work on a missile defense system to protect the East Coast from Iranian or North Korean long-range nuclear missiles.

The bill would require the Defense Department to conduct an environmental impact statement by the end of next year with an operational site in place “not later than the end of 2015.”

Seems a bit speedy, but there’s a quick $100 million in the bill for surveys and planning and such.

Sure, the Iranians and North Koreans don’t have long-range missiles (yet) and the Iranians — best we can tell — don’t have any nukes.

And sure, the general in charge of the North American Aerospace Defense Command has said “today’s threats do not require an East Coast” site and the Joint Chiefs chairman said last week we don’t need it.

But what do they know? As Fleetwood Mac sang “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.”

There’s also coastal parity to consider. The West Coast already has two interceptor sites, one in Alaska with 27 missiles and another three in California.

Granted, the program — price tag about $24 billion so far — doesn’t have a great track record knocking down missiles in tests. But why should we spend all that money to protect Hollywood, for crying out loud? We want an interceptor site too!

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday estimated the cost for 20 interceptors would be only $3.6 billion from 2013 to 2017, missiles, site prep, facilities included. That’s a real bargain!

House Republicans may have the votes to pass the bill, though the Senate, as it did last year, will probably neuter it.

Maybe the Senate doesn’t like it because there’s no protection against nuclear-tipped missiles fired from future Iranian or North Korean submarines or from long-range bombers or yachts offshore?

Or maybe the problem is where to put the interceptors? After all, Alaska deployment is easy. Our coast is a bit more congested.

Loop Fans can help keep America safe!

Yes, it’s the Loop “Pick The Site” Contest. Where should the missiles go?

Maybe we could circle Manhattan with interceptors to protect the job creators on Wall Street? Or group them at the Baseball Hall of Fame in central New York to protect the national pastime? Hide them within the Epcot theme park in Orlando? Put a few in Chincoteague to protect the wild ponies?

You can leave your entry as a comment on the blog — you may want to double-check that there’s an active e-mail address associated with your washingtonpost.com log-in.

You can also e-mail us at intheloop@washpost.com. (Please make sure you include a home or cell phone so we can contact you.)

The top five winners will receive a coveted In the Loop T-shirt and the usual bragging rights when we announce winners. (If you need to enter “on background,” that’s fine.)

Don’t delay. Contest deadline is May 25.

By  |  01:18 PM ET, 05/16/2012

Tags:  Missile Defense, interceptors, North Korea, Iran, House of Representatives, Defense Department, Iran, North Korea, Hollywood, Epcot, Basball Hall of Fame, Wall Street, Joint Chiefs, Al Kamen, In the Loop, Emily Heil, contest, Pick the Site, Fleetwood Mac

 
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