Confidence in existing missile defense systems is not supported by valid empirical test data
Exaggerating the abilities of missile defense is downright dangerous and military leaders ought to make sure that it doesn't happen; unfortunately, it does. Take, for example, these claims made in the February 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) report: "The United States now possesses a capacity to counter the projected threats from North Korea and Iran for the foreseeable future." And: "The United States is currently protected against the threat of limited ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] attack, as a result of investments made over the past decade in a system based on ground-based midcourse defense."
Neither of these statements is remotely true. The current system cannot even reliably intercept a single missile that's launched at a known time and on a known trajectory. None of the various missile defense systems, sea- or land-based, have ever been tested in a realistic setting: For instance, a surprise attack with salvos of missiles with decoy warheads (and other countermeasures) and unknown trajectories. J. Michael Gilmore, the director of the Operational Test and Evaluation Office of the Secretary of Defense, recently testified that "it will take as many as five to seven years to collect" just the necessary data to determine whether the administration's planned missile defense architecture is even sensible. And if future tests do prove it to be an empirical failure will the administration really roll back missile defense? It's unlikely. The long-range plans appear to be unencumbered by any realistic testing requirements.