National Guard Ballistic Missile Defense Mission: Minutemen at the Orbital Plane   [open pdf - 762KB]

"This thesis examines the decision to assign the Ballistic Missile Defense mission to units of the Colorado and Alaska National Guard. The history of the Nike Ajax, Nike Hercules, Sentinel and Safeguard programs are examined to identify the origins of support for this decision. First-hand sources provide evidence that the National Guard performance in the Nike air defense program is a record of parity and some superiority to equivalent active Army units. Previously documented records of Nike unit inspections and evaluations are included. Perhaps for the first time, the results of a declassified U.S. Army study accepting National Guard participation in the Sentinel/Safeguard missions is reported. Pressures, competing interests and election politics within the context of the American governmental institutions provide insights into the difficult path followed to reach President George W. Bush's 2004 operational declaration, and the uncertainties lying ahead for the Missile-Age Minutemen. The international relations area includes an over-view of the sources of the missile threat to the United States, its friends and allies. With the demise of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, this thesis gauges the impacts on diplomacy, and shifting priorities and resources within the U.S. Defense structure. The author concludes with personal observations and recommendations."

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