This official Army history document - converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction - is a unique account of the history of Army involvement in space programs and missile defense efforts. It covers a wide range of programs, including NIKE-ZEUS, Safeguard, Ballistic Missile Defense, Sentry, the Strategic Defense Initiative, Anti-satellite weapons, lasers, and the Space Shuttle.
From the preface: Seize the High Ground: The Army in Space and Missile Defense provides an overview of the Army's involvement in the development and use of space-based systems and missile defense to serve the nation. The Space and Missile Defense Command traces its origins to the founding of the nation, when strategic defense meant coastal fortifications. Through the 19th and 20th centuries, this concept expanded as new construction techniques were devised and coast artillery fire became more accurate. Since 1945 the concept of strategic defense has expanded beyond coastal fortifications and artillery to encompass outer space and missile defense. In order to meet these new challenges, the Army was specifically assigned to develop a system to detect, intercept and destroy enemy missiles. At the same time, the Army was intimately involved in the early days of space flight, building the missiles that launched the first American satellites and astronauts into orbit. The Army's record of achievement in space and missile defense matters is a success story. Despite political controversies surrounding missile defense and conflicts over the Army's role in space, soldiers, scientists and technologists have been generally successful in devising ways to defend the nation from missile attack and in using space-based systems to increase the Army's combat power. Army operations since 1989 provide the historical evidence on which this judgment rests. Additionally, the functional task groupings the Army's space and missile defense units adopted to bring order to their activities may offer a template for future Army organization.
The commander's introduction states: Part of the U.S. Army's strength lies in its traditions. These traditions are epitomized in the framework of lineage and honors that link soldiers and their units. As the Army's newest major command, one might assume that the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) would not have a significant historical record. However, USASMDC and its predecessor organizations have spent many decades (since 1957) focusing on issues and experiments with missile defense, space-based communications, and sensor technologies. This focus can be seen as a natural outgrowth of the Army's continuing strategic defense mission: defending the U.S. homeland.
It is my pleasure to introduce this history of the U.S. Army's activities in space and missile defense. A glance through the pages of this survey will illustrate the importance of space and missile defense to America's military focus. As the command evolved from its beginnings in 1957 into its present shape, it retained a functional organizational structure that oversaw the development of various systems from the earliest developmental stages to operational use.