Bypassing the Establishment
Senator Ted Kennedy died
at age 77 from glioblastoma
multiforme (brain tumor).
Almost none of Israel’s military experts believed this kind of rocket defense could work. Enemy rockets of varying sizes fly erratically and rapidly hit nearby Israeli communities.
Drawing inspiration from other types of weapons defense systems, General Gold and his team in March 2005 agreed on a patched-together concept for what would become the Iron Dome.2
General Gold called up an Israeli weapons maker to head the project, bypassing required approvals from the military’s general staff, the defense minister, and the Israeli government. An audit by the Israeli state comptroller criticized this step, which led to years of heated condemnation of the project. If regulatory or criminal actions had been taken against General Gold, the highly controversial Iron Dome missile defense system would have likely never happened.
Senator Jesse Helms died at
age 86 of vascular dementia.
General Gold disputed allegations that he broke rules, saying he simply sidestepped red tape. Said the General, “ I just canceled all the unnecessary bureaucracy…I left only the most crucial bureaucracy needed for success.”2
Another problem was that no one in government agreed to pay for the project. That left General Gold once again having to think outside the box. By using funds from his research budget and others in the private sector, he secured enough monies to cover early stage development costs.
Even after war with Hezbollah broke out in Lebanon, resulting in thousands of rockets being fired into northern Israel, the military establishment and Israel’s prime minister refused to divert government funds for Iron Dome.2
General Gold Breaks More Rules
Senator William Proxmire died
at age 90 from Alzheimer’s
disease. © gettyimages.com
Without government funding, it is difficult to imagine a military project continuing. Instead of scaling back, General Gold directed a private Israeli defense contractor to begin full-scale development of the Iron Dome project when there was no order or appropriation to do so. According to the Israeli comptroller’s audit report, “ The directive was not under his (Dr. Gold’s) authority.”2
The defense contractor agreed that there was no legal basis to advance this system’s development and was quoted, “ But if you want to achieve something in a very short time…you have sometimes to bypass the bureaucracy.”2
The risk taken by General Gold and a handful of others paid off. The Ministry of Defense finally committed some funding to keep Iron Dome alive. (Government auditors later found the Ministry of Defense violated regulations by committing these funds without military or government approval for the project.)
Despite engineering miracles in the developmental process, Israel did not have the funding to quickly move Iron Dome forward. Israel sought out aid from the United States. After US military experts thoroughly reviewed the project, the American team concluded that, “This is something that cannot be done.”2,3
Finally, the Israeli government became convinced enough to provide the first large cash infusion to Iron Dome with more funds likely to be appropriated later. This event, however, set off another attack against General Gold, mainly by rivals who feared losing out to the improved technology General Gold had expeditiously pushed through.
General Gold Investigated Again by Israeli Authorities
Former President Ronald
Reagan died at age 93 from
pneumonia after suffering systemic
degenerationbrought on by Alzheimer’s
disease. © gettyimages.com
In response to increasing recognition that General Gold had pioneered a breakthrough technology, Israel’s government auditors initiated a new investigation of the project and issued a report accusing General Gold of launching a billion-dollar project without the necessary approvals. According to the auditor’s report:
“Brigadier General Gold decided on the development of Iron Dome, determined the timetables and ordered predevelopment and full development before the relevant authorities had approved the project.”2
Fortunately for General Gold, Iron Dome was making rapid progress. A team of engineers assembled from across Israeli defense companies worked around the clock. Even pensioners were called out of retirement. In 2009, during the first field test, an Iron Dome prototype successfully intercepted an incoming rocket.2
United States Finally Recognized Iron Dome
The Pentagon sent a team of experts to Israel in late 2009 to reevaluate Iron Dome—a concept they earlier deemed as something “that cannot be done.”3
In its final report, the Pentagon team declared Iron Dome a success. Field tests showed it was hitting 80% of the targets, up from the low teens in the earlier US assessment. This prompted the United States to provide roughly $200 million in Iron Dome funding.2
Iron Dome went operational in March 2011. It shot down its first Palestinian rocket on April 7. Within three days it shot down eight more rockets. It wasn’t until the Gaza flare-up in late 2012 that Iron Dome made its mark on the public consciousness.2
The result was a quick ending to this conflict, where Iron Dome knocked down 421 rockets launched from Gaza and bound for Israeli cities, an 84% success rate, according to the Israeli military.2
Iron Dome limited Israeli casualties to six during the seven days of intense bombardment. As a result, there was markedly less political pressure on Israel’s decision makers to invade, and a cease fire was implemented.2
There would be no Iron Dome had General Gold not broken rules that enabled him to push the system’s development forward.
Regrettably, there are few heroes in the medical arena today willing to risk their personal liberty to bring these kinds of technological breakthroughs to those dying of chronic degenerative diseases.