04/24/2012 05:42 pm ET Updated Jun 24, 2012

Needs Over MEADS

Picture this:

Somebody wants to spend a large amount of money on something that will never work, will never be built, and will never be used. There were a couple of other parties who were willing to share the cost, but now they realize that spending good money on something that will never materialize makes no sense to them, so they bail out. In the meantime, the lone remaining party wants to spend more money on this thing that will not work, nor will be built, nor will be used.

Is it just me or does anybody else think this scenario is just plain wrong?

Sadly, this is the current state of the Medium Extended Air Defense System, colloquially known as "MEADS." For reasons that defy all logic, the administration wishes to spend yet another $400 million on MEADS while simultaneously acknowledging that the missile system will never get off the ground.

Some have suggested the notion that the Army has dropped the ball on combat theater missile defense, but the simple truth is that MEADS is a decade overdue and billions of dollars over cost.

Fortunately, eight senators -- four Democrats and four Republicans -- have sought to inject some rational thinking into the MEADS discussion. These eight are signatories of a bipartisan letter to the leadership of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees, and their letter makes a direct and simple point: "We cannot afford to spend a single additional dollar on a weapons system such as MEADS that our warfighters will never use."

The letter further prompted Sen. John McCain to contact Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, to remind the secretary that the Pentagon has already been directed to negotiate the MEADS program with our European partners Germany and Italy to either kill the program once and for all or wind down the program by the end of the 2012 fiscal year. McCain expressed to Panetta that he was "disappointed that the Department has chosen to ignore current law and congressional direction by requesting an additional $400 million for MEADS in fiscal year 2013."

From a fiscal standpoint, the Pentagon's decision to challenge the authority of Congress is an audacious display of politics. From a military standpoint, it inexplicably ignores the reality of continuing to spend money on a program that will not save the life of a single soldier. And this comes at the cost of siphoning attention and funding away from the continued upgrade of the Patriot missile program, a combat-proven weapons system.

When North Korea threatens the next test launch of an ICBM or when Iran promises retaliation in the Persian Gulf over any attempt to pre-empt the rogue nation's nuclear ambitions, it won't be MEADS keeping watch over military personnel and civilians; MEADS has never shot down a single target and it never will.

MEADS cannot, and never will, protect anything -- ever. It's time to end the gamesmanship and focus on providing the missile defenses our troops in the field deserve.