Former director of the Missile Defense Agency General Trey Obering (ret.) took a USA Today article to task at a recent screening of 33 Minutes in Washington D.C. Listening to Obering, the “reasons” not to build missile defenses sound a lot more like just bad excuses.

Technology: Obering said the interceptors they have tested have been able to repeatedly hit within inches of where they aim. What the USA Today article doesn’t say, and Obering pointed out, is that the land based missile system was 3 for 3 in its last series of tests. These tests were particularly important because they “tested” the components of the system (the radars, computers, interceptors, satellites,and the soldiers that will run the whole thing) all together in a realistic trial that mimicked a North Korean missile being shot at the United States on no notice.

Testing: The USA Today also noted that “Europe system has not been tested yet.” Of course. That’s because it has not been built yet. And as General Obering pointed out, if we don’t build, the United States will have no protection against a long-range ballistic missile threat from Iran! The general pointed out we have to build and test as we go along, because the alternative is to have no missile defense of the US homeland at all.

Cost: Obering also noted the GAO report projected cost overruns (in program would cost about $30 billion for between 8-10 years) at $2 to $3 billion. He noted that would be a cost growth of only about 6% and 10%. Considering that would cover a decade of research, development, and fielding, by our figuring, that actually qualifies missile defense as a “model” defense buying program–in fact few major commercial enterprises can match that level of performance. He also noted that all missile defense spending combined represents only about 2 percent of the entire defense budget (and defense spending is only a fifth of the whole federal budget).

America has enemies. The longer we sit around making excuses, the less time we have to prepare. The enemy isn’t making excuses—they’re making missiles.

There will be a public screening of 33 Minutes at Heritage on March 23.