Missile defense site named after President Reagan

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan is escorted by Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz and Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens at the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site dedication ceremony on Monday, April 10, 2006. General Klotz is vice commander of Air Force Space Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott Seyer)

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan is escorted by Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz and Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens at the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site dedication ceremony on Monday, April 10, 2006. General Klotz is vice commander of Air Force Space Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott Seyer)

Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz addresses the more than 500 military and civilians attending the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site dedication ceremony at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Monday, April 10, 2006. General Klotz is vice commander of Air Force Space Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott Seyer)

Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz addresses the more than 500 military and civilians attending the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site dedication ceremony at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Monday, April 10, 2006. General Klotz is vice commander of Air Force Space Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott Seyer)

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Lt. Gen Henry A. "Trey" Obering III and Riki Ellison admire a bust of the 40th president unveiled at the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site dedication ceremony at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Monday, April 10, 2006. General Obering is the Air Force director of the Missile Defense Agency and Mr. Ellison is the founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott Seyer)

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Lt. Gen Henry A. "Trey" Obering III and Riki Ellison admire a bust of the 40th president unveiled at the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site dedication ceremony at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Monday, April 10, 2006. General Obering is the Air Force director of the Missile Defense Agency and Mr. Ellison is the founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott Seyer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- The missile defense site here took on a new name April 10. The Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site honors the 40th president of the United States who was a champion of the need for missile defense.

Attendees at the ceremony included former First Lady Nancy Reagan; Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England; Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens; former California Gov. Pete Wilson; Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, vice commander of Air Force Space Command; and Lt. Gen. Henry A. "Trey" Obering III, director of the Missile Defense Agency.

“President Reagan simply would not accept U.S. vulnerability to nuclear or ballistic missile attack,” General Obering said. “And so he called upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete."

A recurring theme through all the speeches was the lasting legacy of President Reagan to our national defense.

“We are here today to celebrate the remarkable achievement of Ronald Reagan who will be remembered and revered for many things.  But if you (could) ask him, I think he would tell you his greatest achievement was to safeguard the freedom and safeguard the people of the United States,” Senator Stevens said.

General Klotz spoke of the contributions of the Air Force Space Command team as an integral part of the nation’s missile defense. He mentioned several capabilities that support missile defense, including uninterrupted space-based early warning, launch ranges, communications, navigation and timing capabilities.

“Those of us who have spent time in the intercontinental ballistic missile business hold President Reagan in especially high regard,” General Klotz said. “His leadership at the height of the Cold War was the turning point toward achieving victory in that titanic struggle for peace and freedom. President Reagan was the driving force behind the deployment of the Peacekeeper missile in the 1980s …The mission of the Peacekeeper and the vision of President Reagan (were) achieved without ever firing a shot in anger.”

The Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site includes four silos.  Two house interceptor missiles that, when activated, are part of the overall ballistic missile defense system. The two other silos will be used for operationally realistic testing, but can also hold operational interceptors if required.

The current missile defense system also includes early warning satellites, powerful ground- and sea-based radars and an integrated command, control and battle management element.

“Today, our nation has a limited, but real defensive capability against short, medium and long-range ballistic missiles,” General Obering said. “That reality is borne out by the long-term interceptors in the silos here and in Alaska, the Aegis ships with their sea-based interceptors, the powerful radars which we have brought online, and the professionally trained and certified crews manning the command and control consoles in Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado and Nebraska.”

The ceremony ended with a broadcast of President Reagan’s own words from a speech given March 23, 1983. The words also appear on the plaque under a bust of the president that was unveiled during the ceremony..

“Wouldn’t it be better to save lives than avenge them?" the president asked. "Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all of our abilities and our ingenuity to achieving a truly lasting stability? I think we are indeed. Indeed, we must.”

(Courtesy of Air Force Space Command News Service)