The Nations Mourns Former Defense Secretary Harold Brown, Dead At 91

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Harold Brown, predominately known for his service as defense secretary during the Carter administration, passed away on Friday. Brown dedicated his life to the service of the nation, helping establish new cutting-edge technology to modernize defense methods in the United States. A nuclear physicist, he fought for a wider budget in the Pentagon to be dedicated to improving communication and intelligence systems, according to ABC News.

Brown’s work was largely inspired by one of the biggest mistakes of the Carter administration, a failed attempt to rescue the Iran hostages in 1980. The rescue attempt took a turn for the worst when one of the helicopters involved in the mission crashed, killing eight U.S. servicemen. The tragic incident helped Brown realize the importance of developing more advanced satellite surveillance, stealth aircraft, and other forms of defense technology. He wrote about the experience in his 2012 book, Star Spangled Security: Applying Lessons Learned Over Six Decades Safeguarding America.

“I considered the failed rescue attempt my greatest regret and most painful lesson learned,” Brown said.

Brown’s tenure as secretary of defense took place during a very turbulent time in the nation’s history. When he took the position in 1977, the military was struggling as a result of the Vietnam War.

“The constant Cold War competition raged hot during the Carter administration and preoccupied me throughout the four years,” he wrote. His efforts to strengthen the department of defense did pay off and showed drastic improvement at the end of his service.


“The Defense Department budget in real terms was 10 to 12 percent more when we left than when we came in,” he said, speaking of the trials the administration faced in reaching that point.

Today the former defense secretary is being honored for his steadfast leadership during a poignant point of American government. Although it was not an easy time to take up such a position, Brown embraced his role with devotion and determination. The current defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, issued a statement Saturday during which he praised Brown for his dedication and leadership.

“His focus on deterrence through a strong nuclear triad facilitated long-term peace and stability in the United States and Europe,” Shanahan said.

RAND Corporation, a non-profit global policy think tank, announced the news of Brown’s death on Saturday. He had served as a trustee for the organization for over 35 years. Brown passed away at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, California, according to his sister, Leila Brennet.