Shanahan: Former Defense Secretary Brown Shaped U.S. Military for Decades


Harold Brown, the 14th secretary of defense and the first scientist to hold the position, died Jan. 4 at his home in Ranch Santa Fe, California. He was 91.

Leading the Defense Department from 1977 to 1981 under President Jimmy Carter, Brown tapped into his experience as Air Force secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War and as director of U.S. Defense Research and Engineering during President John F. Kennedy’s administration.

“Dr. Brown led a remarkable life, first as an academic and scientist, and then as a public servant in a variety of prominent roles.  … He shaped our nation’s military for more than two decades, revolutionizing the development of naval munitions, renovating America’s post-Vietnam War weapons platforms, developing stealth aircraft and leading nuclear weapons research,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan said in a statement.

“As secretary of defense, Dr. Brown’s steady leadership piloted our nation through a consequential segment of the Cold War,” Shanahan said. “His focus on deterrence through a strong nuclear triad facilitated long-term peace and stability in the United States and Europe.”

Brown’s career encompassed science, academia, government and private industry, and it spanned 10 presidencies.  

Strategically, he sought…

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