Rumor has it that the military is asking to go ahead with the ABM system, which had been scrubbed as too expensive and not practical by two U.S. presidents and Congress.

The Pentagon says it needs the anti-ballistic missile system to protect its MX missile system, which is now being built.

It wouldn't surprise me if the next step would be a request to build a new system to protect the ABM system, so it could protect the MX system.

The military should not be criticized for wanting to build all the new systems. It is charged with guaranteeing our security, and it's very difficult for a civilian to say the military doesn't need what it's asking for.

Let me give you an example of how it works.

As part of our strategic defense, it was decided to build a 50-caliber machine gun emplacement in Utah manned by two soldiers, a PFC and a corporal.

Then someone in planning suggested that they put in an anti-aircraft gun to protect the machine gun. This was okayed. But the Army officer pointed out that you couldn't have an anti-aircraft gun without infantry protection, and a battalion of GIs was ordered to build a perimeter around the anti-aircraft gun.

The Air Force said you can't have a bunch of soldiers guarding a large gun without air protection, so the Army engineers were called in to build a fighter strip, and a squadron of F16 planes was assigned to the area to give the GIs fighter cover.

As soon as the squadron was in place, strategic planners recommended an armored division to protect the planes against ground attack. But everyone knows an armored division is vulnerable without tactical nuclear weapons. So a top-secret tactical nuclear force was assigned to protect the tanks.

There was some nervousness in the Pentagon that the tactical nuclear weapons were subject to a surprise attack by the Russians, since they were only capable of firing ground-to-ground missiles. So the Air Force was assigned the job of digging silos for ground-to-air missiles with the role of knocking down the Soviet missiles before they could wipe out a large part of Utah.

Pentagon intelligence got word that the Russians had the area pinpointed and told their bosses that, in a first-strike raid, they found the commies could knock out the ground-to-air missiles, endangering the armored division, the fighter strip, the anti-aircraft gun and the machine-gun emplacement.

A meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was called, and it was recommended that a SAC bomber base be placed in the area as a warning to the Russians that we intended to protect our 50-caliber machine gun at any cost.

But there were those in the Pentagon who felt this would not be a strong enough deterrent. They recommended we build an MX missile system in Utah, making it possible to move our missiles around underground, so the Soviets would not know where they were. The cost was estimated at $30 billion, but because of inflation and delays, the true price placed on it was $60 billion.

To really do it right, they would need 25 percent of Utah and Nevada for the construction site.

The president was all for it and said he wanted the project to proceed right away.

It was only after work started on the MX missile system that a Pentagon task force came up with a report that the system had a weakness. Rather than pinpoint the target, the Soviets would now have to devastate two states for insurance.

The only answer was the U.S. military to bring back the anti-ballistic missile system, and place it in the surrounding states as a means of stopping the Russian missiles from doing their jobs.

The probability of Congress buying this now is much greater than it was during detente, and the Pentagon feels if it doesn't get the ABM during this administration it never will.

As for the machine gun that started the entire ball rolling, it's been sold to El Salvador where it is now guarding the presidential palace.