Mr. Chairman, I’m pleased to appear before this distinguished
Committee and to speak in strong support of the Resolution urging the President
and the Congress of the United States to build an effective, layered ballistic
missile defense system to protect New Hampshire, New England, and all Americans.
This resolution is timely because, if passed and sent to Washington, it will be helpful in the political debate over the coming months about what, if anything, should replace the ABM Treaty after June 13, 2002. Unless something changes before that date, the Treaty will cease to exist – according to its terms and President Bush’s December 13 announcement that the United States would withdraw in six months. During the next five months, many in the arms control community will seek to impose unilateral constraints on our missile defense development programs – and/or to replace the ABM Treaty with other agreed limits on the kinds of defenses that the United States will build.
My view is that the ABM Treaty should be abandoned in its entirety so that America’s engineers are free to build the most effective defenses possible. At the same time, we should seek the means to cooperate with all our allies and friends – including Russia – to build the most effective defenses we can as quickly as we can to protect us all from missile attack.
The Resolution correctly calls for a robust layered defense that can intercept ballistic missiles in all three phases of their flight – 1) early, during their boost-phase when they are rising from their launchers and are most vulnerable, 2) throughout their much longer midcourse-phase of flight above the earth’s atmosphere when discrimination between actual and false warhead targets is a major technical challenge, and 3) finally during their relatively short reentry or terminal-phase when target warheads stand out from lightweight decoys as they are slowed by the air resistance of the Earth’s atmosphere. Such a layered defense is required to provide numerous intercept opportunities against the attacking missiles, thereby increasing confidence that all of even a relatively small number of attacking ballistic missiles can be shot down before they reach their targets. Even a single nuclear-armed ballistic missile that gets through can destroy an entire city.
I am pleased the resolution calls for a robust defense consisting of space-based and sea-based interceptors, as well as ground-based interceptors. I also am an advocate for building air-based interceptors – particularly if based on unpiloted air vehicles like the Predator used in Afghanistan to gather data and shoot at targets on the ground. With the right technology – which already exists, such a system could provide America with a near-term boost-phase intercept capability.
But without freedom from the ABM Treaty, air-, sea-, and space-based defenses cannot even be tested – let alone deployed. Free of the Treaty, engineers can relatively quickly develop “mobile” defenses to provide relatively inexpensive, effective layers of a global defense. That is why it is important to win the debate and preclude future constraints on missile defense system.
Those devoted to arms control and the ABM Treaty have always resisted development of mobile defenses – and they will continue to do so – precisely because they would be effective. They seem wedded to an idea that vulnerability leads to stability in the nuclear age – so they oppose effective defenses and prefer the mutual hostage arrangement of Mutual Assured Destruction. If this Cold War idea ever had merit, it no longer does in a world of proliferating weapons of mass destruction and missiles to deliver them.
The Bush I Layered Defense: GPALS
I am very familiar with these pressures, based on my experience as President Reagan’s Ambassador and Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks and as Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) during the first Bush Administration. In early 1990, I recommended to then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and President Bush a refocusing of the SDI program to account for the changing strategic situation, as the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union evaporated before our eyes.
We called this refocused SDI program GPALS – for Global Protection Against Limited Strikes – and President Bush asserted that our intent was to protect the United States and our overseas forces, friends and allies against limited missile attacks. GPALS consisted of three main components: a ground-based National Missile Defense (NMD) consisting of 5-6 sites and over 1000 interceptors; a ground-, sea-, and air-based Theater Missile Defense (TMD) – all the TMD systems still considered today, plus several others; and a space-based Global Missile Defense (GMD) consisting of about 1000 small inexpensive space-based interceptors called “Brilliant Pebbles.”
The stated GPALS objective was to avoid being deterred in our efforts to protect our interests abroad. Imagine the difficulty President Bush would have had assembling the coalition that performed so admirably in the Gulf War if Saddam Hussein could have threatened U.S., or even European, cities. Specifically, we sized the system to provide high confidence that we could destroy all of 200 missiles then under the control of a Soviet submarine commander – the concern being an accidental or unauthorized launch. A defense sized for this objective would provide robust protection against fewer missiles that might be deliberately launched by rogue leaders. During the Gulf War, the largest barrage of Scuds involved only 7 missiles, as I recall.
The proposed Brilliant Pebbles constellation of lightweight satellites would have had multiple shot opportunities against every SCUD launched by Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War – as demonstrated in computer simulations using our geosynchronous satellite data taken during the War. And Brilliant Pebbles was expected to destroy at least 60-percent of the attacking missiles of a 200-warhead attack on the United States. (The ground-based component of GPALS was assigned 40-percent.) It was expected to cost less than 25-percent of the entire GPALS system-of-systems, and would have been the workhorse of a worldwide defense against missiles launched from anywhere to anywhere else more than a few hundred miles away.
Brilliant Pebbles was also the most mature system concept produced by the SDI program – it was initiated in 1987 as a classified program, and the Pentagon’s acquisition bureaucracy approved it as a Major Defense Acquisition Program in 1989. Brilliant Pebbles became a controversial element of public debate in 1988 when President Reagan used it to justify his veto of the Defense Authorization Bill that would have limited funding of space-based interceptors – because of ABM Treaty and other political concerns. Subsequently, it received high marks from numerous reviews by the scientific and defense community, including by the Defense Science Board and the Jason – an outside group of academic experts on defense technologies. They recommended that the Brilliant Pebbles technology be “exported” to other basing modes to improve their capability – a process that continued through my watch but which was abandoned by the Clinton Administration and has yet to be revived by the new Bush Administration.
As this Brilliant Pebbles experience illustrates, the Executive Branch during the Reagan-Bush I years was interested in developing the most effective defenses technologically possible. Thus, the SDI pressed forward against the political opposition with programs that went as far as they could, without breaching the terms of the ABM Treaty, to demonstrate technology for all basing modes. I am confident effective air-, sea-, and space-based defenses could now be operational had Bush I programs been continued free of the Treaty.
By the end of 1992, we were close to realizing this possibility before the Clinton Administration scuttled the programs and our associated diplomatic efforts that were also making great progress. Let me elaborate the state of the programs at the end of my watch as SDI Director on January 20, 1993.
Where Things Stood in 1992
In the wake of the Gulf War, the Democrat-controlled Congress directed the Bush Administration to build a national missile defense to defend the American homeland, beginning with a ground-based site in Grand Forks, North Dakota – and the Bush Administration responded by approving and fully funding a comprehensive development and deployment program as a “top national priority.” The Pentagon’s independent cost estimators expected this first site to cost $25 billion, and we expected it to be operational as early as in 2000.
As part of this approved program, Congress explicitly approved robust funding for space-based interceptors. I programmed, and the Pentagon’s acquisition authorities approved, spending about $300-400 million a year to demonstrate the “Brilliant Pebbles” technology – although I followed Congress’s instructions that directed the removal of SDI’s most mature program from the formal acquisition process. If it had continued free of the Treaty and other political constraints, I am confident we could have deployed an effective global defense by now for a fraction of what the ground-based site in Alaska will cost.
Programs to develop sea-based defenses were fully funded (at quite modest levels compared to other TMD basing options) and expected to produce TMD capability by the end of the decade. With freedom from the Treaty, these same sea-based defenses could be used to protect Americans at home. But without freedom from the Treaty, they could not even be tested against missiles that could attack the American homeland.
Also approved in the SDI program I left to the Clinton Administration was a robust technology demonstration program that provided numerous “hedges” against advances in the threat – the so-called countermeasures. For example, we were testing aspects of Raptor-Talon, an unpiloted air vehicle to launch a boost-phase interceptor – had it been continued without Treaty constraints, there is little doubt that it could be operational today. If the defense can intercept an attacking missile in its boost-phase, that defense can protect the entire world, including American cities. But under the Treaty it could not even be tested against missiles that could reach the American homeland.
We were also investing hundreds of millions each year to develop a terminal ground-based “endo-atmospheric interceptor” to hedge against advanced countermeasures that could defeat midcourse defenses. We were investing well over $1 billion a year on all these demonstration programs to assure that the defenses could defeat offensive countermeasures – as befits a serious missile defense development, testing and deployment program.
In the out years, funding for this approved program grew to about $8 billion annually – about what the Bush Administration proposed, and Congress recently approved, for Fiscal Year 2002.
Because of the political realities of such growing support for building missile defenses in 1991, the Russians were beginning to discuss ways to cooperate on building defenses – and moving beyond the constraints of the ABM Treaty. On January 31, 1992, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin publicly proposed to the United Nations General Assembly that our SDI program be redirected to take advantage of Russian technology and that we together build a global defense to protect the world community. In the same speech, he proposed additional reductions in offensive nuclear forces – reversing the previous Russian position (and that of the international arms control community) that if we built defenses, we could not reduce offensive nuclear systems. In effect, the Russians said yes to the proposals we had tabled for seven years during the Reagan and Bush I Administrations.
I believe that if they had been given another six months, the ongoing high-level negotiations would have reached agreement that would have permitted us to fully test and deploy effective defenses against limited ballistic missile attacks. But that was not to be.
Clinton Dismantled the SDI Program
Upon taking office in 1993, the Clinton Administration discontinued these high level negotiations with Russia (and our allies and friends around the world) to jointly build a global defense, declared its allegiance to the ABM Treaty and promptly either killed or scuttled all serious programs to defend America – “Taking the stars out of Star Wars,” as Defense Secretary Les Aspen so colorfully put it.
They continued serious TMD development programs only for protecting our overseas troops, friends and allies. But even then, they cut the budget of these programs, which they called their highest priority, by about 25-percent. And they “dumbed-down” such TMD defenses to be sure they could not also protect Americans at home – because of their concern about preserving the ABM Treaty as “the cornerstone of strategic stability.”
More specifically, Clinton officials directed that industry’s proposals to build the first site as mandated by Congress be returned to the contractors unopened, and they cut the budget for ground-based defenses by over 80-percent to about $400 million a year – almost $2 billion had been appropriated for fiscal year 1993 and it increased to double that amount in the outyears – and turned that program into an anemic technology demonstration program. They killed outright the space-based interceptor program – as well as Raptor-Talon and other important demonstration programs that exploited this same technology.
Efforts to exploit SDI cutting-edge space technology were not abided by the Clinton Administration – even when the applications were not directed at a missile defense mission. For example, there was no follow-up to the 1994 award-winning (awards from the National Academy of Sciences and NASA) Clementine Mission that space-qualified first generation Brilliant Pebbles technology by returning to the Moon for the first time in 25 years, mapping its surface in over a million frames of data from 15 spectral bands, and discovering water at the Moon’s South Pole. Indeed, President Clinton used his fleeting “line item veto” in 1997 to kill a follow-on program (also strongly supported by the non-defense scientific community) to send a more advanced probe to a deep space asteroid – so strong was the Clinton anti-“Star Wars” sentiment, as made explicitly clear when the President’s veto was explained to the Press by the President’s senior aid responsible for overseeing such defense and space programs.
The Clinton Administration also dumbed-down the sea-based wide area defenses by: slowing down the interceptor and precluding the use of tracking and other data from sensors other than the radar on the same ship as the interceptor – reducing the area defended; restricting its on-board sensors – reducing its effectiveness against modern attacking warheads; and establishing a firing protocol to preclude shooting at a missile after it is launched until after it burns out – placing the interceptor in a tail chase with a faster rocket, a notably ludicrous constraint that would permit the Captain of an Aegis cruiser in the Sea of Japan to shoot down North Korean missiles headed overhead to Tokyo but not to Honolulu. If not for persistent Congressional support, they clearly would have killed such wide-area sea-based defenses.
I could go on with other examples. But the message is clear – the Clinton Administration was actively opposed to building the best defenses possible.
The Clinton National Missile Defense (NMD) program was begun only in response to Congressional pressure after the 1994 leadership change, and Congress pressed the Administration to build a defense for the American People. Even then, I believe the Clinton Pentagon designed its anemically funded NMD program to fail, still exclusive of the SDI cutting-edge technology and without serious hedge programs to defeat any but the most trivial countermeasures. They claimed there was no threat – and they were more concerned about strengthening the ABM Treaty, which precludes any effective defense.
Clinton’s NMD program became more serious after publication of the 1998 Congressionally mandated Rumsfeld Commission report on the growing threat of missile proliferation – and especially after August 31, 1998, when North Korea launched a Taepo Dong over Japan and almost to Hawaii, catching the intelligence community by surprise. After then, and to take the missile defense issue off the table in the 2000 political campaign, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Missile Defense Act of 1999 making it national policy that an effective national missile defense be built as soon as possible – a directive that President Clinton then ignored when it came time to make a deployment decision for the site in Alaska.
This decision only reflected the Clinton Administration’s consistent top priority given to “strengthening” the ABM Treaty – rather than to building defenses. Indeed, the Administration actively sought additional constraints under the Treaty. When amendments to the Treaty were agreed with the Russians in 1997, the President refused to submit them to the Senate as required by the Constitution – because the Senate clearly would not have given its approval.
While funding for Clinton’s missile defense program grew after 1995 – mostly at the insistence of Congress – and there have been a number of successful TMD development tests, progress toward building defenses was at best slow. Of all the programs initiated on my watch, only the Israeli Arrow system was operational – and Israel and Russia are now the only nations with homeland missile defenses. Not only did the Clinton Administration abandon the key SDI technology programs early on, but also the technically competent technology team from the Reagan-Bush I years has dispersed and the knowledge of many of the achievements of those years seems to be largely forgotten. And, as illustrated by repeated test failures in technology mastered over 30 years ago, the industrial base for building effective defenses has eroded considerably in recent years.
A New Bush Era and Possibilities
This then is the condition inherited by President George W. Bush and his able lieutenants – a difficult problem for a President committed to end the ABM Treaty and build effective defenses.
I believe the President has been absolutely correct in making this commitment – repeatedly stated since early in his campaign for President. And on December 13, 2001, he delivered on the most important aspect of his commitment – by announcing that the United States will withdraw from the ABM Treaty in six months. Now his challenge is to marshal his political forces to hold firm in assuring that position does not erode as political opponents in Congress and elsewhere seek to impose unilateral constraints on U.S. development programs and to urge new arms control negotiations to lead to onerous restrictions.
The policy statements and testimony of his senior team have also been very supportive of doing the right thing if serious programs are revived to build effective defenses – after the fashion pursued by the Reagan-Bush I era. But so far in Bush II, the actual programs to build defenses have shown little interest in reviving the cutting-edge SDI technology that will enable truly effective defenses – while continuing the Clinton era programs that were crafted more by politics and ABM Treaty lawyers than by technology and competent engineers.
In my opinion, from a technical perspective, the most important single initiative is to revive a serious, well-funded, space-based interceptor program that exploits and builds upon already proven SDI technology. If we seriously pursue such a program, I believe we could begin operating a global defense within five years. But key technology must be raised from the ashes of the past eight – now nine – years, during which such a program has been politically incorrect.
This same cutting edge technology can be used to improve markedly other basing options – sea-based, air-based, and ground-based – as recommended in 1989 by the Defense Science Board and Jason independent reviews. For example, sea-based defenses can be made much more effective with a lighter advanced technology kill vehicle (ATKV) that would increase its coverage and effectiveness. This same technology could be rapidly exploited to base boost-phase interceptors on inexpensive high-flying unpiloted air vehicles like the SDI-developed Raptor, which has been flying at NASA for the past eight years.
To assure such ventures will be successful, the Pentagon’s management of missile defense programs needs a major shake-up. I am encouraged by Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld’s January 2 directive establishing a Missile Defense Agency to be staffed by the “best and brightest people” to develop and apply new approaches to acquire an integrated layered defense system to protect the United States and U.S. deployed forces, allies and friends.
Hopefully, we will see a revival of a robust technology program as well as efforts to build defenses as quickly as we can, because the threat is already with us.
As Secretary Rumsfeld’s Commission pointed out in 1998, Scud-like missiles could, today, be launched from ships off our coasts at American cities. Rogue states are on the verge of building long-range missiles that could threaten us from afar.
And while we hope the Russians will be our friends, as President Bush clearly wishes them to be, we cannot forget that long-range Russian missiles have long existed and we are not entirely happy with Russian control of either their operational systems or their sale of missile technology. China is improving its existing long missiles and we cannot predict their future interests, especially as they transfer their advancing technology to others who may wish us ill.
We dare not tarry in building the defenses we need.
Mr. Chairman, I conclude as I began by urging the passage of the Resolution to build as quickly as possible a robust layered defense for all Americans and our overseas troops, friends and allies. I believe it will be important in the coming debate.
To help you and your committee in participating in that debate, I have attached a short paper with suggested counterpoints to the likely arguments that we proponents of effective defenses will confront, especially in the coming five months, until we are at last free of the constraints of the ABM Treaty.
No ABM Treaty: Point, Counterpoint
The ABM Treaty, one of the last vestiges of the Cold
War, is being removed as an obstacle to building effective defenses – thanks
to President Bush’s December 13, 2001, announcement that the United States
was exercising its right under Article 15 to withdraw in six months.
As argued persuasively by at least two scholarly legal briefs several years ago, the Treaty should have ended with the 1991 passing of the other signatory, the Soviet Union. But it survived for an additional decade because of political constraints – mostly generated by arms control devotees still locked into Cold War thinking.
Now most of these same people are wringing their hands, fearing that the international community – especially Russia and China – will respond by building up nuclear weapons to threaten us. And they are raising a number of false claims to argue the President’s move was unnecessary. For example, consider their arguments and my response:
Point: No one dares attack us because we would destroy them in response. Counter: This argument is ironic after September 11, when terrorists willingly went to their deaths just to kill Americans – and the citizens of over 80 other countries. And those evil men who developed the plans for this despicable suicide attack surely knew we would come after them. They simply were not deterred.
Point: But they wouldn’t use a ballistic missile – as September 11 demonstrates. Counter: After watching the recent Osama bin Ladin tape, does anyone think that he would have hesitated if he could have destroyed New York and killed millions with a ballistic missile? President Bush has declared war on terrorists and states that harbor them – a number of which are already building ballistic missiles. Recall the 1991 Gulf War when Iraqi Scuds fell on Tel Aviv and Haifa – and killed 28 of our troops in their barracks in Saudi Arabia. Israel now has a homeland missile defense system – mostly paid for by the American taxpayer. Shouldn’t we? Saddam Hussein said during the Gulf War that if he had a long-range ballistic missile he would attack American cities. Do we doubt him? In short, we must not leave America totally vulnerable to any of the ways such evil leaders might attack us.
Point: But no one can attack us with ballistic missiles
today – so there is no hurry about defending America against ballistic
missiles. Counter: Regrettably, the threat is advancing more rapidly
than many appreciate. In 1998, a bipartisan Congressionally mandated
commission led by then citizen (and now Defense Secretary) Don Rumsfeld
unanimously concluded that one or more rogue states could build long-range
ballistic missiles to attack the United States within five years – by 2003.
Under the best of circumstances, we are unlikely to build a defense against
long-range missiles by then.
Furthermore, many nations already have ballistic missiles with sufficient range to strike American cities if they were launched from ships off our coasts – as was also noted by the Rumsfeld Commission. This threat should be seriously considered by Governor Ridge and his Homeland Security efforts.
And don’t forget that both Russia and China have long had missiles that could reach American cities – and even one of those missiles, launched intentionally or by accident, could kill millions of Americans.
Point: Still, it is premature to withdraw from the Treaty – we don’t even know whether defenses will work. Counter: Actually, proof-of-principle experiments 15-years ago proved we could “hit a bullet with a bullet.” President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI, greatly advanced that technology through the Bush I years – regrettably, the Clinton Administration scuttled those cutting edge technology programs because of its slavish adherence to the ABM Treaty. In any case, building effective defenses is an engineering task – and engineers, not ABM Treaty lawyers, should plan serious missile defense development.
Point: But Pentagon leaders have said that they currently
need no testing beyond the terms of the ABM Treaty – so the Treaty is not
limiting progress. Counter: Not so. Treaty lawyers have constrained
the testing that competent engineers have wanted to do since the 1980s
– at least.
As the Pentagon’s director of the missile defense programs during the first Bush Administration, I can speak authoritatively to this issue. I have testified to Congress that we had to design tests around the Treaty, leading to programmatic delay and additional cost and risk.
Furthermore, the Treaty prohibited such common sense engineering as improving existing capabilities to help defend America. Thus, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld withdrew a sea-based radar from the recent National Missile Defense test – because of the Treaty. That radar has been used to track Chinese and other ballistic missiles for five years. So, under the Treaty, we could use it to help defend our overseas troops, friends and allies – but not Americans at home.
If the Treaty blocks such simple uses of existing radar capability, imagine how lawyers would constrain using sea-based interceptors built to protect our overseas troops, friends and allies. Just so were our sea-based defenses dumbed-down during the Clinton years. If fully supported free of the lawyers and the Treaty which blocks all testing of sea-based ABM systems, engineers can build such defenses faster for less money than the ground based systems that were the centerpiece of the Clinton missile defense plans – and, with minor changes, have been continued in the Bush program.
Point: But we cannot afford all these programs.
Counter: To the degree that costs are a major factor, it should be understood
that the Treaty has forced development programs to focus on the most expensive
ground-based options. As indicated above, sea-based defenses could
be built for much less, because they would take advantage of over $50 billion
already invested in the Aegis cruisers that today defend the fleet around
the world against attacking aircraft. With on-board defensive interceptors,
these ships could shoot down ballistic missiles in all phases of flight
– from boost-phase while the attacking rockets are still burning throughout
the outer-space mid-course phase, to the terminal phase as warheads reenter
the earth’s atmosphere.
Another much less expensive option would use un-piloted air vehicles (UAVs) – like the Predator now flying in Afghanistan – to launch rockets to intercept attacking missiles in their boost phase. Israel has sought such a capability – again at U.S. taxpayer expense. But the Clinton Administration scuttled U.S. demonstration programs, no doubt because Article 5 of the Treaty banned development and testing of such a system to defend American cities.
Space-based interceptors would be the most cost-effective global defense; composed the most mature of all the concepts pursued by the Reagan-Bush I SDI program; and was the first defense system concept to enter the Pentagon’s formal acquisition process in 1991. Were that program permitted to continue without ABM Treaty inhibitions, we could now have a global defense – to protect the entire world community – for much less than the cost of a single ground based site in Alaska. But alas, it also fell under the Clinton ax in 1993.
Actually, I advocate pressing ahead with all these system concepts in parallel because the threat is urgent. And all can be pursued for under 3 percent of the defense budget – and under a half of one percent of the federal budget. The total cost of building all these defensive systems would be a similarly small percentage of the accumulated cost of September 11, let alone the potential cost of losing an entire city that might be saved by an effective defense.
Point: Still, such developments will create an international
nightmare – the Russians and Chinese will build up their nuclear weapons
and even our friends and allies will be extremely critical of our abandoning
the ABM Treaty and building defenses. Counter: These concerns are
Russia will cooperate with us. In 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin proposed that we take advantage of Russian technology and together build defenses for the world community. (I had proposed such cooperation for five years at the negotiating table in Geneva.) My SDI technology deputy led our efforts responding to Yeltsin’s proposal, and I initiated Russian programs from the SDI budget. We can return to a cooperative agenda – and I expect we will. Withdrawal from the ABM Treaty will not harm the excellent relationship President Bush has established with Russian President Putin, nor lead to any reversal of Russia’s interest in reducing their offensive nuclear weapons.
China is a different matter – but China was already building more ballistic missiles with multiple warheads, and I expect them to continue. If anything, they may reduce their investments in such systems if we deploy effective defenses. In any case, we must look after our own interests in protecting the American people against a serious near term threat.
As for other friends and allies, I already noted that the American taxpayer has footed the bill for building Israeli defenses, for which they are most grateful. We also have cooperative programs with the Japanese, who became quite concerned after the August 31, 1998, North Korean launch of a Taepo Dong missile over their territory almost to Hawaii. Other nations, such as Italy, also have expressed an interest in joint programs – and our NATO friends have for years been considering how they might extend that defensive alliance to ballistic missile defense.
In such a joint effort, many parties can play a constructive role. Various nations can provide bases for interceptors or radar or other defense components. We can work together on command and control, just as NATO manages its joint air defense. All can benefit from a joint defense against ballistic missiles.
Henry F. Cooper
Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper is Chairman of High Frontier, Chairman of Applied Research Associates, Senior Associate of the National Institute for Public Policy, Visiting Fellow to the Heritage Foundation, and a private consultant.
In 1990, President George Bush appointed Ambassador Cooper as the first civilian Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Director, a post he held until 1993. He redirected SDI away from defending against a massive attack from the former Soviet Union to protecting the US homeland and overseas troops, friends and allies from limited attack—a refocusing he had recommended to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in an early 1990 independent review in the context of the then crumbling Soviet empire.
President Ronald Reagan appointed Ambassador Cooper as Deputy and then Chief US Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the former Soviet Union (1985-1989). Between 1983 and 1985, he served as Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, where he was responsible for backstopping all bilateral US negotiations with the former Soviet Union and where he chaired the Assistant Secretary-level interagency group responsible for developing US space arms control policy. Between 1979 and 1982, he served as Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Research and Development, with oversight responsibility for Air Force strategic and space systems. Early in his career, Ambassador Cooper was Scientific Advisor to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory (1967-72) and served as an US Air Force Lieutenant (1964-67).
Ambassador Cooper's previous private sector experience includes service as Senior Vice President of JAYCOR (1990), Deputy Director of the Nuclear Effects Division of R&D Associates (1982-83), member of the technical staff/program manager at R&D Associates (1972-79) and at Bell Telephone Laboratories (1960-64), and Instructor of Engineering Mechanics at Clemson University (1958-60). He has chaired or served on numerous senior technical and advisory boards—including the Defense Science Board, the Air Force Science Advisory Board, US Strategic Command's Strategic Advisory Group, and the Defense Nuclear Agency's Scientific Advisory Group on Effects. In 1997, the Speaker of the House and the President appointed him to a commission to assess the US government's organization and programs to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Ambassador Cooper, who holds BS (1958) and MS (1960) degrees from Clemson University and a PhD from New York University (1964), is a nationally recognized expert on nuclear weapons effects, strategic systems, national security policy and arms control matters. He is author of over one hundred publications on these subjects, is a member of numerous related professional organizations, and is listed in Who’s Who in America. A member of McLean Presbyterian Church, he is married with three children and eight grandchildren.
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