President George Washington told us, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving the peace." And in rebuilding our then-atrophied military capabilities, President Ronald Reagan abbreviated that sound advice to his motto, adopted by President Trump, "Peace through Strength."
Thursday evening in Indiana — after a long day that began at 2 a.m. by welcoming the three American prisoners released by Kim Jong Un, President Trump echoed that motto by observing that "Weakness gets you into nuclear war."
He also declared that he had paid North Korea "zippo" for the release of these American — in contrast to President Obama’s release of billions to Iran along with concessions to achieve the "worst deal" in history.
President Trump should also emphasize this combination of themes to save money and build effective defenses by directing his team to build the most cost-effective ballistic missile defenses as quickly as possible. And he should emulate President Ronald Reagan’s top priority on building space-based defenses — as were the centerpiece of his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
Moreover, the first four directors of what is now the Missile Defense Agency viewed the Brilliant Pebbles space-based interceptor (SBI) system as the most cost-effective product of the SDI decade. Recently, three of these former directors have written articles reporting this historically accurate fact — and urging President Trump to revive that effort which was cancelled in 1993 by the Clinton administration, remaining dormant ever since.
Last August, SDI’s first Director, Retired USAF Lt. General James Abrahamson, joined me,in urging President Trump to revive Space based defenses.
We noted that in the 1980s we recognized that other basing modes had "gaps" in defending the American people, largely because of "potentially unavailable launch sites and cost-considerations."
In our Wall Street Journal article we disputed recent claims that space-based defenses would be excessively costly.
Specifically, the Pentagon’s independent cost estimators concluded that 1000 Brilliant Pebbles would cost $10 billion in 1988 dollars — with inflation now $20 billion — for research and development, deployment, and operations for 20 years.
Today’s technology—actually being developed by the private sector — should be even more capable for less money.
The second SDI Director, USAF Lt. General George Monahan, had shepherded that 1990 phase of the Brilliant Pebbles program that was fully approved by the Pentagon’s acquisition authorities to enter the Demonstration and Validation (DemVal) phase as a Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP), the first SDI program to achieve this status. Were he still living, he would have joined us in urging President Trump to revive that innovative SDI program. He surely would have been a coauthor of our article arguing that President "Trump Can Fulfill Reagan’s Defense Vision."
We were joined by Retired U.S. Lt. General Mal O’Neill who had served in General Abramson’s SDI watch, was my deputy SDI director and, as director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), had to pick up the pieces after Defense Secretary Les Aspin "took the stars out of Star Wars" while scuttling most of Reagan’s SDI efforts.
We were also joined by retired USAF Colonel Rowland H. (RHIP) Worrell, who led the Brilliant Pebbles Task Force through the acquisition phase that gained approval by the Pentagon’s acquisition officials, and Dr. Robert L. Pfaltsgraff, who has chaired the Independent Working Group (IWG) on Missile Defense since 2001. The IWG, composed of policy and technical experts, has exhaustively considered these issues and strongly advocated revival of the Brilliant Pebbles effort.
Their advice has to this date been ignored, for political rather than technical reasons — as Chapter 4 of the 2008 IWG report discusses in detail.
As he plans for his negotiations with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, President Trump should also assure we can defend against today’s growing ballistic missile threat that can come from almost anywhere. As noted in my last two Newsmax articles, we can—and hopefully will — rapidly employ effective ways to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles by rapidly enhancing our existing air-based and sea-based missile defense capabilities.
Reviving the SDI Brilliant Pebbles program now to exploit today’s technology should also be a top priority of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review, which should be reported out shortly. Beginning deployment within five years is a realistic goal for such an effort.
Announcing this initiative before President Trump’s June 12 meeting with Kim Jong Un would add to his leverage in negotiating from a commitment to his "Peace Through Strength" agenda. No time or money to waste in building the most effective ballistic missile defenses as soon as possible.
Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper, Chairman of High Frontier and an acknowledged expert on strategic and space national security issues, was President Ronald Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union and Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Director during the George H.W. Bush administration. Previously, he served as the Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Deputy Assistant USAF Secretary and Science Advisor to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. In the private sector he was Chairman of Applied Research Associates, a high technology company; member of the technical staff of Jaycor, R&D Associates and Bell Telephone Laboratories; a Senior Associate of the National Institute for Public Policy; and Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Clemson and a PhD from New York University, all in Mechanical Engineering. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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