Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, Vice Commander, Air Force Space Command
General Obering, thank you for the invitation to speak today...it's truly an honor to take part in such an important and historical event, the dedication of the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site.
Distinguished Visitors: Mrs. Nancy Reagan, Former Governor Pete Wilson, Senator Ted Stevens, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England
I'm proud to represent Air Force Space Command, and its nearly forty thousand men and women stationed around the world standing watch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
At this moment, this fully-integrated team of Active Duty, Reserve, Guard, government civilians and contractors are delivering space effects to joint warfighters, as well as to civil and commercial customers.
Our space professionals accomplish this by flying our communications, early warning, weather, and precision, navigation and timing satellites; monitoring the ground-based radars and other sensors that provide early warning, and locate and track thousands of objects in space; assembling and launching boosters and maintaining the ranges for the launch of satellites; and developing and acquiring the next generation of space and missile systems to help ensure America's strategic, commercial, and scientific advantages in space, well into the future.
Why do I mention all this? It's because these space capabilities, and the professionals providing them, are an integral part of this nation's Missile Defense.
Another integral part of our defense has been our Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force. As our Air Force Chief of Staff, General Moseley has said, America's ICBM force has been, and continues to be the "back stop" for all our Nation's military forces. Air Force Space Command operates, maintains, secures and supports this force.
Those of us who have spent time in the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Business, hold President Reagan in especially high regard. His leadership at the height of the Cold War was the turning point towards achieving victory in that titantic struggle for peace and freedom.
He was the driving force behind the deployment of the Peacekeeper Missile in the 1980s. This past September, we completed deactivation of Peacekeeper as we pulled the final missile from its silo.
The mission of Peacekeeper and the vision of President Reagan had been achieved without ever firing a shot in anger.
Today, his vision lives on as we embark on a new chapter...and prepare to meet new threats.
For over three decades, space professionals have been providing an uninterrupted space-based early warning capability.
The Air Force Space Command team is also proud to provide the launch ranges, communications, navigation, and timing capabilities so instrumental in making this day a reality.
As a host base for one of two ground-based interceptors fielding locations, Air Force Space Command is also responsible for ensuring the Ballistic Missile Defense System has the needed security for its interceptors and critical supporting infrastructure and access to range assets required to accomplish its mission.
We are proud to do our part for this great team, as we realize President Reagan's dream. For he knew that peace and prosperity could only be achieved through courage and strength.
This missile defense site postures us for success today and against challenges we cannot yet begin to predict.
There have been skeptics...and there will always be. Those who will question our resolve and our ability to rise to the occasion. But as we look ahead, I'm reminded of a story relayed by Mrs. Reagan about her husband giving a speech at the University of California. When he had finished his remarks, a student rose to ask a question. How, he wondered, could someone of President Reagan's generation possibly understand the younger generation?
"You grew up in a different world," the student observed. "Today we have television, jet planes, nuclear energy, and space travel."
"You're right," said Reagan. "We didn't have any of those things when we were young...pause...we invented them."
And that's the same thing we're doing today...we're taking the next step. We're charting a new path towards preserving our national security.
And, as we do so, the men and women of Air Force Space Command look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the Missile Defense Agency.
We are proud to play our part in such an important mission.