Harold Brown, Defense Secretary in Carter Administration, Dies at 91

On Jan. 4, Harold Brown who was worked under President Carter as his defense secretary died. He was 91-years-old.

Brown was ordered by Carter to slash military spending. Instead, he implemented the United States buildup of arms in the 80s. He also was in charge of the military raid to rescue the Hostages who were in Iran.

The Rand Corp, in which Brown was a board member announced his death. The nature and cause of his death have not been released.

Brown was a prodigy of physics and earned his doctorate degree at 21 years of age. He was the first scientist to be the leader of the Pentagon. The other heads had been political, military or business leaders.

Brown gained his reputation as being a designer of nuclear weapons at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. After the ‘father of the hydrogen Edward Teller was his mentor retired as director of the laboratory, Brown replaced him.

He joined the team of Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara in 1961 and was considered an up and coming star. When he was 33 he took the position of director of defense engineering and research at the Pentagon. He then went on to become secretary of the Air Force from 1965 through 1969.

In 1969, he left his job at the Pentagon and went to the California Institute of Technology to lead it. When Carter became President in 1977, he took a job within the Defense Department.

He worked four years in the White House. While there, Brown spent the majority of his time lowering defense spending, cutting Pentagon waste and developing the military foundation to protect threats coming from the Middle East and the Soviet Union. Brown also influenced nuclear strategy and the policy the United States had with China.

Since the 70’s Brown partook in the negotiations which eventually formed the SALT II agreement and was involved with the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Even though he had much success he failed with Operation Eagle Claw which was the April 1980 rescue attempt of the United States hostages who were being held in Tehran.

Brown wrote in his book, “Star Spangled Security,” that the hostage situation was his greatest regret and a very painful lesson.

In 1981, Brown was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom which was presented by President Carter.

Brown’s wife Colene McDowell died in 2018. He also has two daughters.

Written By Barbara Sobel


Washington Post: Harold Brown, defense secretary who oversaw failed hostage-rescue raid, dies at 91
New York Times: Harold Brown, Defense Secretary in Carter Administration, Dies at 91

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Commonwealth Club’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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