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Tags: griffin | porter | sda | sdi

Space Development Agency's Swan Song?

undersecretary of defense for research and engineering michael griffin
Michael Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill - on May 6, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Greg Nash - Pool/Getty Images)

Henry F. Cooper By Thursday, 25 June 2020 04:47 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Just last week, my June 18, 2020 Newsmax article applauded the June 15, 2020 Space News article that "The Space Development Agency Must Be a Constructive Disrupter" as the most hopeful article I had read in years.

I am saddened to report that my optimism has been undermined because two of the three co-authors have resigned their important positions, from which they could have helped enforce "disruptive" initiatives the third author, SDA Director Dr. Derek Tournear, hopefully, will still seek.

But on July 15, the other co-authors — the Undersecretary for Research Engineering (USDRE) and his Deputy, Drs. Mike Griffin and Lisa Porter, are leaving their posts from which they could have continued their advocacy with significant effect.

The loss of their advocacy likely will be felt immediately as Pentagon "powers that be" reinforce their efforts to undermine the president’s objectives, while China advances its reach into space as it seeks to replace the dominant global power of the United States.

Loss of SDA efforts will assuredly accelerate that process.

Now, at best, they can make limited contributions in the private sector.

I hope they will seek ways to contribute, but the rules for former senior officials limit their supportive efforts in this critically important area they have led.

While I do not know Dr. Porter, her reputation is impeccable and the fact that she is joining Mike Griffin in a new venture speaks volumes about her capabilities. I believe President Trump will feel the loss of both.

I have known Mike Griffin for decades and would urgently advise President Trump that he is losing the needed vital service of one of the most competent technologists I have known—especially when it comes to matters important to advancing the president’s vitally important Space Force.

When I was President Ronald Reagan’s Defense and Space Negotiator defending his vital Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in our negotiations with the Soviet Union, Mike — then at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory—conducted some of the most impressive early SDI space experiments.

One of the most important, well over 30 years ago, demonstrated an ability to track and intercept attacking boosting rockets in space — as I recall, that achievement made Time Magazine and certainly impressed our Soviet counterparts, giving us important negotiating leverage. They could not match that capability—at that time.

Then Mike joined the SDI and continued his important technical work. He eventually rose to be Deputy SDI Director for Technology — a post where he was serving when I became SDIO Director in 1990.

I was sorry to see him return to the private sector, but pleased that he later served as NASA Administrator — and after successful private and public sector leadership roles returned to government in his current USDRE post. Since leaving SDI, he has advised Directors of follow-on agencies to the SDI, including the current Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which now reports to USDRE along with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the SDA.

In short, losing Mike will, in my opinion, have very consequential negative effects as Congress and others in the Pentagon seek to redirect funding and programs away from the president’s Space Force — mostly to serve parochial interests.

For example, politically motivated interests will detract from ever building truly cost-effective space defenses toward building more ground-based defenses — the most costly, least effective ways to defeat the growing global threat of ballistic missile attack. As previously reviewed many times, this is an uphill fight.

As argued last week, an effective "disruptive" SDA role would be key to success. I hope I am wrong, but from where I sit losing the contributions of Drs. Griffin and Porter within the Pentagon likely heralds a swan song for the SDA.

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, Science Adviser to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory and a USAF Reserve Captain. 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. Read Ambassador Cooper's Reports — More Here.

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As argued last week, an effective "disruptive" SDA role would be key to success. I hope I am wrong, but from where I sit losing the contributions of Drs. Griffin and Porter within the Pentagon likely heralds a swan song for the SDA.
griffin, porter, sda, sdi
Thursday, 25 June 2020 04:47 PM
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