Discussion:
Harold Brown, former SecDef, 91
(too old to reply)
J.D. Baldwin
2019-01-06 15:33:12 UTC
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Another McNamaraite bites the dust.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/06/politics/harold-brown-defense-secretary-dies/index.html

Former Defense Secretary Harold Brown dies at 91
By Madeline Holcombe

Updated 5:23 AM ET, Sun January 6, 2019

Former Defense Secretary Harold Brown, who served under President
Jimmy Carter, and wore many hats as an educator and a nuclear
physicist, has died. He was 91.

Brown played a crucial role in the Carter administration's effort
to end the Iranian hostage crisis, and described the botched 1980
rescue attempt as the biggest regret of his career.

"The failure to rescue the U.S. hostages still haunts me," Brown
wrote in his memoir "Star Spangled Security," according to the
RAND Corporation, a think tank where Brown served on the board of
trustees for decades.

It announced his passing Saturday and detailed his life and career
as a nuclear physicist, weapons designer, California Institute of
Technology president, philanthropist and public servant.

Before he became the the 14th defense secretary, Brown served as
the Air Force secretary under Lyndon Johnson during a period that
included the US bombing of North Vietnam.

"Harold Brown understood, perhaps better than any defense
secretary before him, the technological complexities and
unprecedented dangers of modern warfare," said Michael D. Rich,
president and chief executive officer of the Santa Monica,
California-based RAND Corporation. "He was also an educator and
author who made tremendous contributions to the advancement of
science and the security of the nation."

In a statement, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan
shared his condolences and described Brown's influence on military
developments and nuclear weapons research.

"As Secretary of Defense, Dr. Brown's steady leadership piloted
our nation through a consequential segment of the Cold War,"
Shanahan said. "His focus on deterrence through a strong nuclear
triad facilitated long-term peace and stability in the United
States and Europe."

Shanahan said Brown provided advice to leaders from five
presidential administrations.

Brown was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy
Carter, the nation's highest civilian honor, and the Enrico Fermi
Award for achievement in science and technology by President Bill
Clinton.

[...]
--
_+_ From the catapult of |If anyone objects to any statement I make, I am
_|70|___:)=}- J.D. Baldwin |quite prepared not only to retract it, but also
\ / ***@panix.com|to deny under oath that I ever made it.-T. Lehrer
***~~~~----------------------------------------------------------------------
Bryan Styble
2019-01-06 19:36:29 UTC
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I always found Harold Brown's answers not only understandable but fulfilling--that is, always directly addressing the journalists' queries, instead of often merely talking around them--whenever I'd see him on "Meet the Press" or elsewhere, and I found that very refreshing.

But I never imagined Brown was a nuclear physicist--though probably I SHOULD have, given that fellow nuke engineer James Earl Carter appointed him--much less one who worked on thermonuclear warhead volume reduction! (I got to know a couple of those types during the four years I was hosting commercial newstalk radio out in Albuquerque [where the Sandia Laboratory is located, one of the three national institutions, along with Livermore and Los Alamos, which work on such esoteric--and lethal!--problems], and they're remarkable people indeed.)

But a huge question remains--one which, not incidentally, I intended to ask Brown's fellow former DefSec Casper Weinberger during a radio interview scheduled with him in the mid-90s in Detroit, only to have him quite apologetically cancel a couple days prior to the broadcast--that only Brown and a handful of other senior Pentagon officials were ever in a position to answer authoritatively:

Given that the big snag in the MX program--later renamed by Reagan as The Peacekeeper--was the so-called "basing" issue, i.e. whether they were going into "hardened" silos, or the alternative "racetrack scheme", wherein the MXs would be trundled in covered railcars around the expansive Nevada desert, keeping The Politburo's targeters guessing as to where they were and thus rendering them impossible to fully take out in a surprise Soviet first strike.

Well, my never-posed question to Weinberger, the late Brown and any others who ever pushed that crazed (and gargantuan budget-busting) racetrack proposal, is: why on earth didn't you go with the competing airborne-basing idea, wherein ever-aloft cargo planes each carrying a single MX would drop drop them via parachute, at which point they would be launched in mid-air and head off to "The Day After" land...

Yeah, I realize that was hardy an inexpensive idea itself, but when you looked at the gazillion-billion estimates for the racetrack plan--which is what ultimately killed the idea in Congress, if I remember precisely--the parachute-blastoff plan always seemed to me to probably save money in the long run (in part because far fewer airborne MXs would be needed than on the railcars), and CERTAINLY make the MXs themselves FAR more concealed in the process. My understanding was that the airborne launch technology had already been developed back then (although not fully tested), so it's a big mystery why they stuck with the cumbersome racetrack thing.

Anyone herein know anything about what went into the racetrack-not-airborne basing decision? Thanks as always in advance!

Oh, and for decades now I've been quizzing friends--yeah, I do have two or three, as preposterous as that claim might seem to a lot of y'all--with one of my fave "significa"* questions, which NO one has ever correctly answered: What does the MX stand for? (Correct answer: Missile eXperimental (though yeah, that's arguably as dumb an acronym as has ever been concocted).

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
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* As I've explained previously herein, the word "trivia" was effectively banned from my broadcasts on the simple and compelling principle that knowledge is never trivial but rather worth knowing...thus I instead employed the non-word significa, which was coined about 1985 by one of my talk radio mentors, the late (and so subtly great) Tom Hall, the '80s-'90s KABC/Los Angeles weekend overnight host, who not only quite indulgently afforded would-be (and soon-to-be) host little ol' me far more caller airtime than any other of his many listener-contributors, but also to this day has the distinction of being the ONLY radio "host of color" I've EVER heard whose diction was immaculate, thus rendering many of his listeners downright shocked if and when they learned he was a black guy!
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