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Thirty-four years ago, President Ronald Reagan delivered his historic Strategic Defense Initiative speech calling for advanced missile defense capabilities that would render the threat “impotent and obsolete.” In recognition of this milestone, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance has released a video highlighting advancements in the missile defense program since President Reagan’s speech. Additionally, MDAA has gathered a collection of thoughts and recollections from our Advisory Board, as well as former National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane. MDAA has been committed to honoring the legacy of President Ronald Reagan and his leadership on missile defense. In 2008, MDAA was instrumental in the creation of the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Last year, MDAA was honored to host an event at the Reagan Library to commemorate the anniversary of the speech.

“President Reagan’s SDI speech was truly transformational. Perhaps most important, the speech challenged both the logic and morality of the long prevailing view that defending the American homeland from missile attack would undermine strategic stability and increase the risk of nuclear war. Rejecting the notion that our nation’s security was best ensured by vulnerability to nuclear annihilation, the President initiated what would become a national level effort to harness American preeminence in science and technology to protect the American people from attack. Today, with North Korea on the verge of threatening nuclear strikes on our cities, the visionary nature of the March 1983 speech is clear.”

Ambassador Robert Joseph, Former Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation & Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security


“The establishment of the SDI program , as defined in a speech 34 years ago, marked a major leap forward in National Security. It not only started the United States on a new path for developing a critical , unproven aspect of military capabilities , it stimulated a tremendous growth in game-changing technological superiority. The SDI program has been the catalyst for technological breakthroughs in Space, Sensors, Directed Energy, C3, and more. It has also been an example of how a Joint Service, multinational program should work.”

General (ret) Lester Lyles, Former Director, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization


“Thirty four years ago, President Reagan laid out a vision that dramatically changed how the U.S. viewed its national security. He challenged the country to develop the capability to defend itself from strategic nuclear missiles instead of relying on an ‘international suicide pact’ called mutual assured destruction. This challenge began a remarkable technological and political journey that has led us to where we are today. We have now have space-based, sea-based, and land-based sensors constantly watching for a missile threat.  Interceptors are ready for instant launch in silos at Vandenberg AFB California and farther north at Ft. Greeley, Alaska to destroy any missile which would threaten the U.S. And most importantly, we have dedicated men and women of our military manning missile defense command and control centers around the clock to ensure our protection. Not only can we protect the U.S., we can also extend protection to our deployed forces, allies, and friends.  All of this is a direct result of President Reagan’s vision, leadership and courage.  As a nation, we should be very grateful to have had him as our 40th President.”

Lt. Gen. (ret) Henry A. “Trey” Obering, Former Director, Missile Defense Agency


“President Reagan launched the nation on a missile defense program 34 years ago.  While the program has evolved considerably since that inception, it remains a very important tool in the US arsenal for national security and is ever more important in the current turbulent world environment.”

— Dr. Patricia Sanders, Former Executive Director, Missile Defense Agency


“President Reagan’s launch of the Strategic Defense Initiative was important for four reasons. First, militarily it moved American strategy away from reliance on ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’ toward a more morally defensible policy without departing from the ‘Flexible Response’ Doctrine which assured deterrence of any attack against our European allies. Second, in terms of economics, it reoriented US investment toward placing priority on the area in which we enjoy a competitive advantage — high technology. Third, it placed an enormous burden on the Soviet economy, coming, as it did, concurrently to Marshall Ogarkov’s call for the modernization of Warsaw Pact conventional forces (which are far more expensive). And fourth, it was visionary and put us on a course to be able to deal with future missile defense threats that were already foreseeable in the early ’80’s.”

— Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane, National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan (1983-1985)


“The Strategic Defense vision to defeat nuclear weapons and the clear articulation of that vision on March 23, 1983 at the height of the Cold War ignited the passion to think and create beyond the limitations of Mutually Assured Destruction. President Ronald Reagan had the courage to lead and make the right decision at the right time for the right reasons against extreme popular and political beliefs to change the way we think. The bountiful repercussions of this monumental shift in thinking and leadership has broken down many walls that seemed unsurmountable but had to be broken for the good of mankind and for the good for America. I heard it, watched it and was ignited in passion as a senior in college as it lit my heart and my mind to follow President Reagan’s leadership and his vision of missile defense.”

Riki Ellison, MDAA Chairman and Founder

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.