Defense Advocate -- We Can Thank Dan Quayle For The Patriot Missile

I would like to paraphrase from a Feb. 15 Washington Times article. The story of Dan Quayle launching programs to help America and Israel defend against Scud missiles was recently documented by the Senate Steering Committee.

In the spring of 1986, then-Sen. Quayle held his own hearing to push missile defenses, though few other senators seemed to care. Quayle said at a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing, "The U.S. has not adequately focused on the urgency of developing near-term defenses against Scud and other such missiles." He asked a Pentagon witness what we had that we could deploy near term. The answer was the Patriot program, which would develop a capability to intercept and destroy tactical missiles in their terminal flight phase.

Quayle was the first member of the Congress to request a formal study on the speed of ballistic missiles - something now done annually. He sought more than studies, hence the Quayle amendments to the defense bills for fiscal 1986, '87, '88 and '89.

These directed the Pentagon to help allied countries such as Israel develop ballistic missile defenses. Out of the Quayle amendments came the Arrow program to build a high-attitude interceptor. For this, the Israeli government honored Quayle in 1986.

In 1984, Quayle opposed the majority of the House Armed Services Committee who voted to slash funds - from $92.3 million to $15 million - to enable Patriots to shoot down Scuds. He fought the

Democratic majority to try to get more money for the Patriot program.

We have always heard the Democrats are soft on defense, and here is an example. Years later, the committee voted to scrap this Patriot-upgrade program altogether. Again, Quayle fought it on the Senate floor and prevailed.

Had it not been for Quayle, we would not have had the Patriot missile to save many lives in the Gulf War. In spite of this fact, many Democrats and media people continually belittle and criticize him. It wasn't a Democrat who fought to put the Patriot missile in our arsenal of weapons. It was Dan Quayle. - Robert L. Eggerman, Coupeville