Daniel O. Graham – Lieutenant General, United States Army

From contemporary press reports:


Born in Portland, Oregon, Daniel O. Graham attended college at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He later attended the Army’s Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. During his 30 years in the military, Graham saw active duty in Germany, Korea, and Vietnam.  Some key assignments included Estimator of Soviet and East European Affairs; the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army; the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency, Chief of Current Intelligence and Estimates for the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam; and Director of Collections, and Director of Estimates of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

From 1973-1974, Graham served as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and from 1974-1976 as Director of its military counterpart, the Defense Intelligence Agency. During his military career, Graham received some of the highest decorations our nation bestows: the Distinguished Service Medal; the Distinguished Intelligence Medal; the Legion of Merit with two oak-leaf clusters; and in 1980 the National Armed Services Award presented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He served as military advisor to Ronald Reagan in both the 1976 and 1980 Presidential campaigns.  In 1978, Graham became Co-Chairman of the Coalition for Peace through Strength.

In 1981, he founded and became Director of High Frontier.  Lieutenant General Graham (Ret.) passed away on 31 December 1995 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.


in the House of Representatives

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, Gen. Daniel Graham’s service to this country has been matched by few Americans. As a tribute to him and his achievements, I would like to submit for the Record, a letter that Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote to General Graham last year, and General Graham’s obituary as it appeared in the January 3, 1996, edition of the New York Times.

U.S. House of Representatives,
Washington, DC, May 10, 1995.

Dear Dan: I am sorry I am not able to join you this evening. However, I do not want my appreciation of your achievements to go unstated.

Your contributions to U.S. national security and the U.S. space program are exceptionally well known in Congress. As Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, your unflinching analysis of Soviet capabilities and intentions reminded us that the Soviet Union was an unfailing adversary that wished the United States immense harm. Your fortitude in telling elected officials the cold, hard truth, even when they sometimes did not want to hear it, served as a guidepost by which we could reorient U.S. foreign policy and win the Cold War.

Even in retirement, General Graham, you were dedicated and forward-thinking which you proved by founding High Frontier, a citizen’s organization dedicated to leading the United States towards a secure future in space. Your leadership helped President Reagan launch the Strategic Defense Initiative, which has brought us ever closer to ending the threat of nuclear annihilation. However, you were not satisfied to simply improve national security, but you led High Frontier and its sister organization, the Space Transportation Association, to creatively think about the U.S. future in space. Today, under you care and instruction, these two organizations are among the most creative sources of thinking on developing outer space as a national resource. The X-33 program to create a reusable rocket that dramatically lowers the cost of access to space, for example, would not be happening today without the contributions of you and your colleagues.

In closing, I can only say thank you for your past service in the Cold War and your wonderful contributions to America’s future. In formulating a vision for space development, you planted, watered, and nurtured a seed that is growing as we speak and will one day surpass our wildest imagination. Thank you Lieutenant General Daniel O. Graham for helping save America.

Your friend,
Newt Gingrich.

JANUARY 3, 1996

Lieutenant General Daniel O. Graham, one of the leading architects of President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as `Star Wars,’ died on Sunday at his home in Arlington, Virginia. He was 70.

General Graham died of prostate cancer, Brigadier General Robert Richardson 3d, a friend and longtime colleague, said yesterday.

While others, including Dr. Edward Teller, played roles in getting the Reagan Administration to adopt the Star Wars plan to shield the United States from Soviet nuclear attack with space-based missiles, even General Graham’s opponents acknowledge that he was probably the most persistent advocate for the approach.

Dan Graham got it on the national agenda and, though it’s been modified recently, the ballistic missile defense concept has remained on the agenda ever since,’ said John Pike, director of the space policy project of the Federation of American Scientists, a research group in Washington.

The Strategic Defense Initiative changed its name to the Ballistic Missile Defense Project in 1993, Mr. Pike noted, but the project is still spending more than $3 billion a year on the kind of high-technology programs that General Graham championed.

A graduate of West Point, General Graham spent 30 years in the military, serving in Germany, Korea and Vietnam. Much of hiscareer was spent in military intelligence as a Soviet specialist, and he became an expert in missile defense systems and satellitesurveillance. He rose to become deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency for two years in the 1970’s, before hebecame the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1974 to 1976, when he retired.

The general was known as an ardent hawk, even among his Pentagon peers, a man who strongly believed in the 1970’s that the rapid growth of the Soviet Union’s military was being ignored within the American intelligence community. And it was after General Graham retired from the military that he was able to press his views most effectively.

In 1976, General Graham advised Ronald Reagan in his first Presidential campaign, which was unsuccessful. In late 1979, the general was again asked to advise Mr. Reagan on military matters in his bid for the Presidency. Even then, General Graham was enthusiastic about shifting the nation’s military resources to an antimissile defense. But as the general recalled later, the invitation from Mr. Reagan prompted him to get `really busy’ on finding a way to pursue an antimissile defense policy.

In his research, General Graham came upon a plan developed in the Eisenhower Administration to destroy Russian missiles early in flight with Ballistic Missile Boost Intercepts, or Bambi, an early blueprint for space-based battle stations. The project was canceled after the Kennedy Administration concluded that it would be costly and unworkable.

Yet General Graham came to the view that technical strides in the intervening two decades gave the concept of space-based missile defense new life, according to `Teller’s War,’ a 1992 history of Star Wars by William J. Broad.

In 1981, General Graham set up High Frontier Inc., a policy organization intended to study and promote defense systems in space. In the last few years, High Frontier has focused more on space transportation and support systems instead of missiles, said General Richardson, deputy director of High Frontier in Arlington, Virginia.

Born on April 13, 1925, General Graham spent his childhood as the son of farmers near Medford, Oregon He came from a poor family, working in saw mills and orchards as a teen-ager, his son, Douglas, of Arlington, said yesterday.

General Graham is survived by his second wife, Adele Piro Graham, whom he married in 1994. His first wife, Ruth Maxwell Graham, died in 1989.

Besides his wife and son, General Graham is survived by six other children, Daniel Jr. of Fairfax, Va.; Melanie of Los Angeles; Laurie of Falls Church, Va.; Elizabeth of Falmouth, Va.; Julianne Stovall of Alexandria, and Margaret Cuccinello of Thomaston, Me.; two brothers, Patrick of San Diego and James of Colorado Springs, and one sister, Sharon Martinez of Pacifica, Calif.

“Clipper Graham” Makes Two Flights in Two Days

The DC-XA test vehicle made its second test flight on Friday, June 7 at White Sands, New Mexico, and turned around to make its third the next day after being renamed “Clipper Graham” for a late SSTO pioneer.

The second DC-XA flight rook place at 12:15pm EDT (4:15pm GMT) Friday, as the stubby, cone-shaped vehicle rose to a height of 485 meters (1,600 ft.) and then moved sideways 105 m (350 ft.) before landing safely.

On Saturday morning, the vehicle flew to a height of 3,120 m (10, 300 ft.) and stayed in the air for over two minutes before landing. Saturday’s launch had been scheduled for late Friday afternoon, as a test of the quick-turnaround capability the rocket offers, but threatening storm clouds on Friday delayed the launch until Saturday.

After Friday’s flight, NASA officials announced that the DC-XA had been renamed “Clipper Graham” in memory of Lieutenant General Daniel O. Graham. Graham had supported the development of single-stage to orbit (SSTO) spacecraft while serving in the Air Force. Graham passed away late last year. “Clipper” comes from the original name of the vehicle, the “Delta Clipper.”

“Graham was a visionary who championed the promise of fully reusable single-stage to orbit vehicles at a time when the majority of the space community were skeptics,” NASA administrator Dan Goldin said. “We’re doing this in commemoration of his vision in opening the space frontier.”

Friday’s and Saturday’s tests were the second and third in a series of five flights planned for this year. Clipper Graham is being used by NASA as a testbed for advanced technologies, such as lightweight ceramic fuel tanks, which may be used in projects like the X-33 and X-34.

Can one person really make a difference in this country of 250,000,000 people? The life of General Daniel O. Graham, who passed away on New Year’s Eve, gives a stunningly affirmative answer.

Dan Graham, whose first love was the cavalry, liked to quote an old proverb. For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of the shoe, the horse was lost; for want of the horse, the battle was lost.

That proverb defines his place in history. For want of Dan Graham, Ronald Reagan would not have had the vision of a defense against ballistic missiles called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI); for want of Reagan’s leadership, the United States would not have had a project called SDI; and for want of the SDI project and the threat of what it could do, the Cold War would have been lost.

It is now clear that we won the Cold War when Mikhail Gorbachev reluctantly concluded that he couldn’t talk Reagan out of SDI (at Geneva or elsewhere), and that the miserable Soviet economy couldn’t match U.S. expenditures for building a nuclear defense. When Reagan called on Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, the media laughed; but SDI turned that “pie-in-the-sky” prediction into reality.

The Democratic-controlled Congresses never voted the funds to deploy SDI, but they did tolerate limited funding for research and development. Fortunately that (combined with the collapsing Soviet economy) turned out to be enough to checkmate Gorbachev.

General Graham had a much-decorated 30-year military career that included service in Germany, Korea and Vietnam and was capped by serving as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. In retirement, he rejected lucrative offers from defense contractors and dedicated his life to American national defense.

As Ronald Reagan’s military adviser in his 1976 and 1980 campaigns, Dan Graham laid out for his candidate the folly and culpable negligence of the Federal Government’s leaving America totally undefended against incoming nuclear missiles. Graham’s coaching led Ronald Reagan to articulate the crucial question on March 23, 1983: “Would it not be better to save lives than to avenge them?”

America’s national grand strategy, developed by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in the early 1960s, was still in 1983 totally based on killing Russians instead of on protecting the lives of Americans. This strategy, called Mutual Assured Destruction, was known by its appropriate acronym MAD.

This theory proclaimed the notion that the way to avoid nuclear war was (a) not to build any defensive weapons, but instead (b) to threaten the Soviets that, if they fired their nuclear missiles at us, we would retaliate with our offensive nukes and kill tens of millions of Russians. If this scenario ever took place, tens of millions of Americans would die because our government had done nothing at all to protect them.

MAD was a suicide pact — a strategy of revenge, rather than defense. Dan Graham said there must be a better way. The better way developed by Graham was originally called High Frontier (because space is the high frontier of America’s future), and was later called SDI. It is a plan for a layered defense, in which non-nuclear weapons shot from satellites in space and from ground bases in this country would destroy enemy nuclear missiles in flight before they incinerated Americans.

Dan Graham had the vision that a defense was both essential and doable, he was the salesman who persuaded Ronald Reagan and other public officials and opinion makers that it was sound political and military strategy, he assembled the scientists and engineers who proved it would work, he raised the funds to do all of the above, and he was a veritable machine grinding out refutations of the attacks launched on High Frontier/SDI by those determined to mislead the public with deceptive criticisms.

General Graham had to fend off the Ted Kennedy claque who tried to ridicule High Frontier as “Star Wars,” and the liberal Democrats who are viscerally opposed to spending any money on defense. Graham had to withstand opposition from Paul Nitze and the internationalists who opposed SDI because they sought nuclear disarmament through international agencies, and from the arms control lobby, which had a vested interest in continuing their jobs attending international meetings where they tilted about arcane nuclear weapons statistics.

President Clinton vetoed the defense authorization that would have funded SDI, claiming that it is “on a collision course with the ABM treaty.” That document is a relic of the Cold War, which continues to impose MAD on us and restricts our constitutional right to “provide for the common defense.” The nuclear threat today is from attacks by the several rogue nations that now possess ballistic missiles. The ABM treaty cannot protect us against them, but SDI can.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” General Daniel O. Graham had the vision for a “Defense that Defends.” As a fitting tribute to a great patriot, let us work to make it a reality.

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