Harold Brown, the 14th secretary of defense for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), passed away at his home in Rancho Sante Fe, Calif. on Jan. 4; he was 91. Brown was the first scientist to serve as secretary of defense for the U.S. Armed Forces. He served in the role from 1977 to 1981 under President Jimmy Carter after previous stints as U.S. Air Force secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War and director of U.S. defense research and engineering under President John F. Kennedy.
Brown was a proponent of achieving national security using advanced technology and strong arms control. He supported deterrence through a buildup of nuclear weapons and capabilities and encouraged the development of air-launched missiles, such as the Peacekeeper missile
The acting secretary of defense, Patrick M. Shanahan, praised Brown’s life and contributions: “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.”