Two Key Trump Initiatives

by AMBASSADOR HENRY F. COOPER February 1, 2017

 "I strongly support missile defense and a robust U.S. nuclear deterrent as important components of defending the U.S. against catastrophic threats. In addition, however, there is much the Department can do in helping to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from these catastrophic threats and events. Should I be confirmed, I will pay particular attention to these threats . . ."  Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly

Then General, now DHS Secretary, John F. Kelley made this promise in his response for the record as part of his confirmation hearing, when he was asked for his assessment of the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP), ground-based missile defense (GMD), cyberattack, and physical attacks to our critical infrastructure. He prefaced the above quote by stating, "All these threats, in addition space weather, pose potentially catastrophic dangers to U.S. infrastructure, particularly our energy, transportation, and telecommunications networks, which are the lifeblood of our economy. Mitigating these risks to an acceptable level is vital. The Department has a critical role to play."

Indeed, they do.  I want to discuss briefly two critically important issues that should receive his and the President's immediate attention.

Assure a Viable Electric Power Grid.

Click here for my last message which dealt with the fact that lack of support on these issues by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had undermined Secretary Kelly's ability to follow up on a major component of his promise, namely the protection of the nation's electric power grid.  As Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich argued, one of the very first actions that should be taken by President Trump should be to "repeal" that ruling immediately. 

As of this time, that urgently needed action has not occurred. Click here for a recent World Net Daily article ("Gingrich warns of a very dangerous Obama directive") which references key statements by EMP Commission Chairman William R. Graham and yours truly, dealing with these important issues that urgently need attention.

In particular, this concern is heightened by the fact that Acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur has been "tweeting" her interest in volunteers for the two, soon to be three, vacancies among the five FERC Commissioner billets. 

This development is alarming for at least a couple of reasons, which should be of great concern among President Trump's close advisors: 

  • First, Ms. LaFleur is no friend to those of us wanting to harden the electric power grid. As noted last week she has falsely claimed FERC was pursuing a "no-regrets strategy." Click here for my September 27, 2016 criticism ("Whistling Past the Graveyard - Again!") of her grossly exaggerated description of FERC's approach to protecting the grid from solar storms - which are much less stressful than the far more challenging manmade EMP and cyber threats. She should not be trusted with filling the two, soon to be three, vacant commissioner billets.
  • Second, these three vacancies can constitute the Trump majority on the five-member commission, which has major responsibilities. But that Trump majority will not happen unless the commissioners are dedicated to supporting his administration's announced priority on restoring and advancing the viability of the nation's critical infrastructure, especially in assuring the viability of the electric power grid that provides the absolutely essential electricity to sustain the American people and power America's key industrial base.


The President and his National and Homeland Security Advisors - and other key advisors should give top priority to addressing this critical issue immediately.  There is little more important to the nation's viability than effectively countering with the existential threat posed by the potential loss of the electric power grid for an extended period of time. And, as I wrote last week, we need to drain the FERC-NERC swamp if this urgent objective is to be accomplished.    

Secretary Kelly has it right that these threats represent "catastrophic dangers to U.S. infrastructure" and dealing with them should not, must not, be subverted by the FERC.  Now is the time for action.

Build Truly Effective Ballistic Missile Defenses.

Secretary Kelly's missile defense advocacy is very important, and I urge the Trump administration to return to President Ronald Reagan's views on building truly effective defenses.

As I have written several times, we went off the Reagan rails when the Clinton administration "Took the stars out of Star Wars" in early1993. Regrettably, missile defense programs since then have done nothing to restore the Reagan vision or the most important technology that can empower development of the most cost-effective ballistic missile defense system - namely one based in space. 

Click here for my recent message (November 30, 2016) that described "A Trump Opportunity" to return to the concept that I championed as Director of Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

Click here for the included National Review article which argued it was time to bring back Star Wars! This article was co-authored by my SDI Deputy Lt. General Mal O'Neill and Brilliant Pebbles Program Director Col. Rhip Worrell, who were closely aligned with me in managing development of this the most cost-effective system concept from the SDI decade, from March 1983 to January 1993.

The following briefing chart illustrates the impressive potential promised by this Brilliant Pebbles concept, as reported to congress in March 1992. This Brilliant Pebbles system was expected (based on independent competent Pentagon cost analyses and outside critical reviews) to cost $10 billion in 1988 dollars for R&D, deployment and 20-years of operation - about $11 billion when this report was published and $20 billion today. (I couldn't help my plug for my alma mater Clemson.) Click here for this important Report to Congress, not only for historical reasons but for considering how the Trump administration might best "Go back to the Future" in developing a modern Brilliant Pebbles.


No other ballistic missile defense concept can compete today with the promised capabilities of such a modern Brilliant Pebbles constellation - which can intercept ballistic in all phases of their flight as indicated in the above chart. 

Literally, this defensive constellation could provide tens of intercept opportunities over the flight of an attacking intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), beginning in its boost phase while it is rising from its launch pad, before it can release its warhead(s) and is most vulnerable and ends when its threatening warhead(s) is (are) reentering the Earth's atmosphere.

In contrast, the ground-based defenses (with a total of 44 interceptors) that we have deployed at several times the cost of this space-based constellation with a thousand interceptors would offer, at most, only a few intercept opportunities that would begin late in that ICBM's flight. Moreover, it could be overwhelmed by an attack involving only a few much less expensive attacking weapons - that might be carried on a single attacking ICBM. The advantage of the previously discussed much less expensive space-based defense is obvious.

My third co-author on this important National Review article was Dr. Bob Pflatzgraff, Founder and Director of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. Bob also leads our Independent Working Group (IWG) on Ballistic Missile Defense, which has been a steady advocate for building the most cost-effective homeland defenses, rather than the least cost-effective ones as has now been the practice since the Clinton administration killed Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative in 1993.

In particular, I call your attention to Chapter 4 of our 2007 and 2009 IWG Reports.  Click here for the 2009 IWG report, especially pp. 52-72, to understand the political swamp through which we have slogged for the past quarter century, while ignoring the most cost-effective ways to defend the United States and our overseas troops, allies and friends.

It's time to drain the BMD swamp, too!

Bottom Lines.

Secretary Kelly and other leaders should recommend that President Trump take at least the following steps:

  • Block if not repeal FERC Order 830 and in future reviews take into account the related objections and recommendations formally submitted by the Foundation for Resilient Societies, Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Center for Security Policy (CSP) and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA);
  • Carefully fill the three FERC Commissioner vacancies to give President Trump control of FERC - choose carefully and make sure they will represent his insistence to "Put America First" rather than continuing the Obama tradition of doing the electric power companies' bidding;
  • Direct that no FERC directives be issued without explicit approval from him until his FERC commissioners compose the majority (3-out-of-5).
  • Mandate that the re-established EMP Commission report directly to him, through his Director of the office of Science and Technology Policy-with the coordination of the National Security Advisor, and task the Commission to recommend as soon as possible appropriate next steps to rectify the FERC-NERC problem;
  • Direct the re-established EMP Commission to recommend how best to rectify the dysfunctional roles and missions among the various U.S. Government departments and agencies associated with effectively countering the existential natural and manmade EMP threat, including development and deployment of truly effective BMD systems; and
  • Resurrect and accelerate development of a viable Brilliant Pebbles program, to provide as quickly as possible that truly cost-effective space based defense.


I'd again like to thank those who are trying to drain the FERC-NERC swamp by getting the word to President Trump and his close advisors.  We must find measures to be taken to stop additional FERC action until the Trump administration properly takes into account previously omitted and understated threats to the electric power grid.

DHS Secretary John Kelly had it right in his above answer to the Senate Homeland Security Committee during his confirmation hearing. Now to follow through ASAP!

I urge you to make our concerns known to the Trump "powers that be" and urge them, for starters, to help "Drain the FERC-NERC Swamp!" and to "Resurrect the most cost-effective BMD concept developed by Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative!" These should be high priority objectives during the first hundred days of President Trump's watch.

Stand by for what the President does on these key issues to "Put America First!

What can you do

Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.

Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all "powers that be" to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.

Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage for more information. 

Ambassador Henry F. Cooper is Chairman of High Frontier and a former Acquisition Executive for all U.S. ballistic missile defenses.  He also served in several other senior USG acquisition and policy positions, including as President Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union. He is currently focused on helping local, state and federal authorities protect against the natural and manmade EMP threat by building effective ballistic missile defenses and hardening the electric grid. Otherwise, loss of the electric grid would freeze America's "just in time" economy, leaving most Americans without means for survival.


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