Pursuit of the shield: An analysis of the United States Cold War quest for limited ballistic missile defense and recommendations for post-Cold War policies and deployments
Since the 1960s, U.S. political leaders have engaged in a controversial debate regarding the deployment of a strategic ballistic missile defense (BMD) system to protect the American homeland. Using a framework for analysis consisting of prerequisites for successful strategic weapon programs, this thesis assesses strategic BMD proposals from the Cold War era (focusing specifically on the 1967 "Sentinel" BMD proposal). It draws upon lessons learned from Cold War proposals, as well as recent developments in the international security environment, to generate a consensus-building approach to future strategic BMD policies. The thesis finds that, in order to protect the American people from emerging threats, the United States should deploy a limited strategic BMD system consisting of multiple ground-based interceptor sites supported by space-based missile tracking sensors. Recommendations are included for negotiating phased, mutual deployments with Russia and other countries in order to bolster world peace and security.Chairman: William H. Kincade.