Dear Members and Friends,
Last week in Anchorage, Alaska, MDAA had the privilege to recognize and honor our United States Army Veterans who set the foundation for our strategic air and missile defense which safeguards our nation's 300 million people from air and space breathing threats. These men were part of a U.S. Army deployment of 274 Nike Hercules batteries of 10,000 interceptor missiles from Alaska to Florida and across the United States to defend the homeland against the Soviet Union. The first deployment of these nuclear and high explosive fragmentation intercept systems began in 1959 in Alaska until 1991, when the last battery was deactivated in Alaska. Five of these Nike Hercules batteries were deployed in Fairbanks and three were deployed around Anchorage, to which these Cold War warriors were assigned. All of these valuable defensive systems and the men that manned them provided deterrence against the Soviet Union's ability to strike the United States and helped to prevent a nuclear war, keeping the nation and its citizens safe, defended and secure for 43 years. We as a generation of Americans owe them great appreciation for their unsung duty in the defense of our nation that kept a cold war from going hot.
The lessons these Cold Warriors learned are what today's U.S. Army Air Defense Soldiers, the 100th Missile Defense Brigade and the 49th Alaska National Guard Missile Defense Battalion manning and operating the ground based interceptors in Fort Greely, Alaska stand upon to defend our country and deter state and non-state actors from attacking the United States. Both the strategic mission and the soldier remain the same in their importance to the country. The advances in technology have been for the better, as today there is no need for nuclear fragmentation warheads. The investments in missile defense technology by the United States has made it exponentially more accurate and safer through the science and engineering of putting metal on metal in the use of kinetic energy hit-to-kill technology.
Alaska still remains the most strategic location to protect and defend the entirety of the United States because of its geographic location near the top of the world. The success of today's U.S. missile defense systems is dependent on the forward-basing of the Shemya Radar at the outer perimeter of Alaska and the Clear Radar in the middle of Alaska, as well as the 27 ground based interceptors at Fort Greely for the tracking, discrimination, targeting and interception of incoming air and space breathing threats. Tomorrow's missile defenses, within the 2020 time-frame, will increase these existing capabilities in Alaska with an additional missile field of 14 new ground based interceptors and a new technology long range discriminating radar (LRDR) that will provide coverage for Hawaii and provide 24/7 persistence to target, acquire and intercept ballistic missile threats from Asia heading towards the United States.
As we look back to the Cold War and the development, deployment and technologies of missile defense from both the United States and Russia, fundamental remnants of the mission and soldiering remain the same for both countries. However there are drastic technical differences in the systems, and in the consequences of their use. Russia has chosen not to put the investment, priority or means to test, develop and deploy hit to kill kinetic energy interceptors, and instead continues to rely on Cold War-era nuclear tipped and high explosive fragmentation interceptors for its ICBM defense of Moscow. With this technology, it is predicted that 30 percent of Moscow's population would be sacrificed if Russia were to use these nuclear tipped interceptors to defend Moscow against an ICBM threat.
For all Cold War intentions, history and lessons learned, missile and air defense deployments by both the United States and the Soviet Union helped strengthen each sides' deterrence and helped to prevent nuclear war. In today's world, with a resurgent Russia, deployed U.S. missile defenses continue to do this, and are vitally important to maintaining stability and peace.
It was an honor to be part of the 2104 Cold War Conference and Nike Veterans Reunion. It was also a distinguished honor to meet with Dr. Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, former Premier of the Soviet Union from 1957 to 1964. From 1958 to 1968, Dr. Khrushchev participated in the Soviet missile and space program.
Dr. Sergei Kruschev and Riki Ellison (Photo courtesy of Clinton Bersuch)