President Bush has made fielding missile defenses to end America's vulnerability to even a single ballistic missile a top priority for his administration. While the administration focused on discarding the ABM Treatywhich blocked even testing of the most effective defense concepts, the Pentagon has continued the programs of the Clinton administration to develop ground-based defenses that could be tested under the terms of the Treaty. Now that the Treaty has been removed as an obstacle, more cost-effective defenseswhich are sea-based and space-basedcan be developed, tested and deployed. Furthermore, because of the technology base established by the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) during the Reagan and Bush I administrations, these defenses can be fielded more rapidly that many realize. But to achieve that end, the Bush administration must overcome the collective amnesia of the decade since Defense Secretary Les Aspin boasted that he was taking the stars out of Star Wars, while canceling the most innovative SDI programs and purging the Pentagon of those who were most knowledgeable of those technologies and system concepts.
Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper is Chairman of the Board of High Frontier, a non-profit, non-partisan educational corporation, formed to examine the potential for defending America against missile attack. He was Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) during the Bush administration. Prior to becoming SDIO's first civilian director, he conducted a major independent review of the SDI program and related policy issues for Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, the results of which were instrumental in reversing the SDI funding cuts Congress had mandated in the preceding several years. Previously, he was President Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks, successfully defending SDI in these negotiations with the now defunct Soviet Union. Author of over 100 technical and policy publications, Ambassador Cooper holds a Ph.D. from New York University in mechanical engineering, and BS and MS degrees from Clemson University, also in mechanical engineering.
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