Submitted in partial fulfillment for the requirements for course (AW570 National Missile Defense)
Caesar A. Garcia
American Public University System
April 8, 2006
Over the past four decades the need for designing comprehensive national missile defense system(s) has been argued in our nation’s legislative chambers. The question was then and remains, is there a legitimate need for a national missile defense system? I strongly believe the real question(s) should be; what type of national missile defense would protect the United States (U.S.) in the most efficient manner? Will the risk factors to the American populace be at a minimum? I believe the U.S. needs to commit to developing the best terrestrial-based laser possible. The advantages presented by this type of weapon far outweigh those of space-based lasers. I will discuss the advantages of both space and terrestrial-based missile defense systems in detail at an appropriate point within this paper. During the 1950s the Cold War ignited the arms race with the former Soviet Union and the birth of the Inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). “In 1951 Project MX-1593 (Project Atlas) begins. Air Force established Project Atlas, study phase for an intercontinental missile.”[i] As the Soviets continued with their development of long-range missiles, the U.S. continued their push for the dominance of projectile missiles. By 1955 “Atlas was given top development priority. U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, Nathan F. Twining, reported that ICBM’s were receiving priority in the Air Force program because of known Soviet progress. Additional ICBM programs Navaho, Snark, and Atlas were accelerated.”[ii] The development of missile technology continued improving throughout the 1950s. When the Soviets launched Sputnik, the race for outer-space began. This race raised the stakes immensely, as funding for missile technology was greatly increased to meet the needs of launching space vehicles. The underlying concern in this new “race to space” was the threat it posed to the United States. “The Sputnik launch changed everything. As a technical achievement, Sputnik caught the world's attention and the American public off-guard. Its size was more impressive than Vanguard's intended 3.5-pound payload. In addition, the public feared that the Soviets' ability to launch satellites also translated into the capability to launch ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons from Europe to the U.S.”[iii]
This fear of a Soviet attack was the origin for the need of a national missile defense system/plan. Americans feared the Soviets would use the space a launching pad for missiles intended for U.S. soil. This concern launched numerous studies over the feasibility and/or possibility of the Soviet’s capability to execute a space borne attack. “The studies and debate on bombardment satellites were conducted against a backdrop of international negotiations to restrict the placement of nuclear weapons in space. On October 17, 1962, the negotiations culminated in United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution 1884 (XVIII), which called on states to refrain from placing in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction or from installing such weapons on celestial bodies.” [iv]
Despite the above mentioned agreement, American scientists believed the former Soviet Union continued developing the means to execute an attack from a space-borne weapon. The concept of “bombardment satellites” was born, whereas a satellite armed with the capability to strike any location on earth was considered a major threat to the United States. In response to...