'Foretesting' ABM Systems: Some Hazards

methodology (1968),
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has said, blood has been shed on this question.3  A number of intelligence reports have ostensibly answered it. Very likely there is at least one good answer among those in hand. But which one? Unfortunately, they differ among themselves and none so clearly reflects a credible source that it can be defended against those who would prefer to reach a different conclusion and feel that other evidence supports it. Thus we come full circle and return to our eschewing of what might be the truth in favor of chipping away at the technical characteristics of new weapon systems and deriving their capabilities on the basis of peripheral but unchallenged evidence.
Finally, it must be noted that this analytical approach is on the one hand conservative in the extreme but on the other disturbingly reliant upon rational behavior on the part of the foreign designer. Read "rational" as "rational to us." Thus we tend to overrate the capabilities of a foreign system but are occasionally surprised by what we insist are irrational achievements. A serious technical mistake by some other country creates an analytical disaster area as its supposedly sinister import cannot be discovered. A technical approach wholly unappreciated in the United States raises the spectre of an unanticipated future threat. On the whole, however, reliance upon reason seems justified and probably has statistical advantages over resort to intuition, randomly selected reports, or the omniscience of Mycroft Holmes.
These are of course just my views. They are important, nevertheless, to my reaction to Mr. Tauss' article, and I think it important now to say something about that article, in part because it affects the credibility of technical intelligence analysis performed by CIA.
I have four major objections to "Foretesting a Soviet ABM System":
It claims accomplishments far beyond those actually achieved. It fails to recognize the proper function of technical intelligence analysis undertaken on the basis of "a slim amount of data" and ascribes value to the hypothetical system "foretested" on the grounds that it represents a system actually under develop
  3 See Studies XI 3, p. 2.  


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Posted: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM