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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Michael Luft and Jeff Robles, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Lt. Michael Luft and Capt. Jeff Robles were crew instructors at Warren Air Force Base at the time of the interview, working with MX missiles. The interview focuses on the role of missile crews, their routines, training, and frame of mind, especially during tests. Both agree that deterrence is their most important assignment and are very proud of their work. Asked what he thinks his Russian counterparts are doing at that moment, Capt. Robles admits, “That’s the first time I’ve ever been asked that question. My gosh!” They discuss the impact of their jobs on their families and their wives’ support for them. Being at “ground zero” and having to put their trust in highly complex technology do not present particular difficulties for the two men.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Reagan's Shield
Program Number



Interview with Michael Luft and Jeff Robles, 1987

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

President Reagan introduces the controversial Strategic Defense Initiative, an idea he believes will make nuclear weapons”Impotent and Obsolete.”

In 1983 President Reagan envisioned a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) that could intercept and destroy Soviet strategic ballistic missiles before they reached the United States. Skeptics dubbed the idea “Star Wars.” It was hard for Reagan to accept the idea of deterrence based on mutual destruction. He believed SDI offered a solution. His science advisor George Keyworth says SDI was “thoroughly created and invented in Ronald Reagan’s own mind and experience.” According to defense scientist Ashton Carter, “The concept is fine. What is not fine is implying to the public that the solution to the nuclear puzzle is at hand.” SDI became the focus of a national debate about nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy, and a stumbling block in strategic arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union. The final months of the Reagan Administration brought a drastic reduction in the scope and size of SDI efforts.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


MX (Weapons system)
Soviet Union
Nuclear weapons
Intercontinental ballistic missiles
Deterrence (Strategy)
United States
United States. Air Force
Minuteman (Missile)
F. E. Warren Air Force Base, WY
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Robles, Jeff (Interviewee)
Luft, Mike (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Michael Luft and Jeff Robles, 1987,” 06/29/1987, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 24, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_88CAAF49329E455E9B5490F4F02728B7.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Michael Luft and Jeff Robles, 1987.” 06/29/1987. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 24, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_88CAAF49329E455E9B5490F4F02728B7>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Michael Luft and Jeff Robles, 1987. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_88CAAF49329E455E9B5490F4F02728B7
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