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ARA's Chairman Emeritus Receives Reagan Missile Defense Award

Donald C. Winter, former Secretary of the Navy, left, and Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, right, present the 2010 Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Award to ARA's Henry "Hank" Cooper. Photo Credit: Missile Defense Agency

ARA's Henry "Hank" Cooper was honored recently for his many years of work in the field of missile defense, ranging from his days at Bell Laboratories to his tenure as the Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Organization and his involvement in the High Frontier organization.

Cooper received the 2010 Missile Defense Agency's Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Award during a banquet and awards ceremony at the eighth annual U.S. Missile Defense Conference on March 24 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

The prestigious annual honor is awarded to individuals or organizations to recognize outstanding support, innovation and engineering or scientific achievement associated with technologies designed to defend against ballistic missile attack. Previous recipients have included such notable figures as former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly along with Donald C. Winter, former Secretary of the Navy, presented the award to Cooper.

Cooper, a mid-1960s alumnus of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory where he served with ARA's founders and a Chairman Emeritus of the ARA Board of Directors, recently celebrated 15 years with ARA. He is also currently chairman of the board of High Frontier, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational corporation formed to examine the potential for defending the United States against ballistic missile attack. Founded in the 1980s, High Frontier played a key role in developing the framework for Reagan's SDI efforts, and under its banner Cooper works with a community of others to advocate effective missile defense systems — most recently in a bipartisan meeting on Capitol Hill to emphasize the importance of the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) threat.

Under Reagan, Cooper served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force with responsibility for all Air Force strategic and space systems, Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency backstopping all arms control talks with the Soviet Union, and as Ambassador and Chief U.S. Negotiator in the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union. He was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as SDI Director, serving until 1993.

Former Navy Secretary Winter praised Cooper for his policy and technical expertise in developing a comprehensive global missile defense architecture, now being realized in the deployment of all current missile defense systems, most of which he helped found. Cooper noted that he was most proud of the Navy's maturing sea-based defenses, which he originated, and that his main regret was that the space-based defense programs, which could have provided the most effective global defense long before now, were canceled by the Clinton administration and have not yet been revived.

The question today, he said, is not whether to possess missile defenses as a key arms component, but what should constitute strong missile defense.

"We should do our very best with the best of American technology to defend the people of this great country," Cooper said in his concluding remarks.