MDAA had the honor to bring forward Senator John McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and provide him the platform and opportunity to present his perspectives on missile defense for our nation and the world in our recognition of nine missile defense champions from Arizona and the nearby region last Friday in Tucson, Arizona.
Senator McCain voiced the importance of missile defense to our nation with his real life impressions going all the way back to 1962 when he piloted a plane with nuclear weapons under its wings, ready to launch from a catapult on the deck of an aircraft carrier off the cost of Cuba. This took place in October of 1962, when our nation under President John F. Kennedy came to the brink of nuclear war several times, with a massive and immediate nuclear missile threat towards our nation from Cuba and a longer range threat from the Soviet Union. Without missile defense, there were few options to deal to with the threat – backing down by promising not to invade Cuba, or to engage in offensive strikes that would likely have resulted in nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union during those critical days in late October known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
This experience followed Senator McCain who became a Congressman in the 1980s with President Ronald Reagan, who created the Strategic Defense Initiative to break free from mutually assured destruction brinkmanship with the Soviet Union and to break the Soviet Union’s will. The development of SDI and the demonstration to Premier Gorbachev of the United States’ ability to kinetically intercept ICBMs in space was a vital and critical tipping point that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Adding to these two memorable life changing experiences for Senator John McCain on missile defense is the defense of Israel from rocket, mortar and missile attacks over the past five years. Senator McCain’s direct Senate policy leadership and support to fund Israel’s Iron Dome System for Israel has resulted in over 1,200 intercepts, providing the Middle East with greater stability than if it had no missile or rocket defense system in place.
In his role today as the Chairman of the SASC, Senator McCain is chiefly responsible for oversight of our nation’s military on behalf of the American public, providing a constitutional check on the President’s use and management of military power. His direct experience with missile defense provides him confidence and determination to continue to develop and deploy regional and homeland missile defense for our national and international security. Senator McCain made it clear that from his perspective as the Chairman of the SASC that the upcoming nuclear deal with Iran is not a good deal for U.S. security, and that both regional and homeland missile defense is needed.
“As we speak, it is clear to me – if not to the president of the United States – that the Iranians are bent on the development of nuclear weapons…Missile defense is not a story of the past. It’s a story of the future.” Sen. John McCain, April 10, 2015
Congresswoman Martha McSally, representing Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, a former A-10 pilot with a rank of Colonel in the USAF, the first woman to command a combat aviation unit was with us to recognize the nine Missile Defense Champions from Arizona and the region. She too was outspoken in the need of missile defense for the region and country:
“It is a game changer, for them to have missile capability that can hit the homeland and our allies, its an absolute game changer. ” Rep. Martha McSally, April 10, 2015
Lt Gen Mark C. Nowland, commander of the 12th Air Force and the Command Master Chief of the U.S. Third Fleet Loran “Mark” Bather were in attendance in the recognition of the Arizona Champions in Missile Defense.
The nine selected Missile Defense Champions that were honored on Friday display the excellence and leadership of those that engineer and operate these systems from Arizona.
These champions for our nation were honored by Senator McCain, Congresswoman McSally, Lt Gen Mark C. Nowland, and Command Master Chief Mark Bather:
LCDR Christopher Polnaszek
Combat Systems Officer
USS DECATUR (DDG 73)
Chief Engineer, Standard Missile-3
FC2 (SW) Richard Keane
AEGIS Fire Controlman
USS DECATUR (DDG 73)
John W. Carter
Deputy Chief Engineer, GMD
Systems Engineer, Exoatomospheric Kill Vehicle
BMD Systems Engineer
FC2(SW) Shaun McMillen
SPY-1 Radar Operator
USS DECATUR (DDG 73)
Program Lead, David’s Sling & Iron Dome
David S. Johnson
Program Engineering Manager, C2 Booster, GMD
(from left to right) CMDCM Loran Barther, Dr. Taylor Lawrence, Riki Ellison, Eric Olsen, Rep. Martha McSally, Sen. John McCain, Lt Gen Mark C. Nowland
Their commitment to excellence reflects each of their teams who brought them to be at the level to be recognized. We thank them for their service, their self-sacrifice and their passion for the defense of our nation, our allies and our troops.
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.