Major General Richard M. Cooke, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.)
Los Angeles Times

Re ” ‘The 21st century form of war,’ ” Dec. 5

Whatever caused the recent explosion at a suspected nuclear weapons plant in Iran, the U.S. should prepare itself for a nuclear-armed Iran. But Congress is on the verge of abandoning preparations long in the works.

Unless Congress acts, the failure of the “super committee” to cut a budget deal means U.S. defense spending will be slashed by about $1 trillion over the next decade. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was right to warn that such cuts would “hollow out” our armed forces.

Among the programs threatened are modernization of fighter jets, Navy ships, surveillance and reconnaissance gear and drone aircraft. The cuts would slash further development of a missile defense program that has finally become effective and operational.

With Iran and North Korea on the verge of developing nuclear-armed missiles, this is no time to drop preparations for combating an attack against America’s cities and our vital interests.

Richard M. Cooke

Vista, Calif.
The writer is a retired Marine Corps major general