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Origins of the Military-Industrial Complex

Origins of the Military-Industrial Complex


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, D.C.>>John Haskell: Today, the
program is entitled The Origins of the Military-Industrial
Complex. It features CRS specialist
in national defense, Dr. Daniel Else, who’s sitting
right here in front of me, who is this year’s
Kluge Staff Fellow, which is really a
prestigious position. While at the Kluge Center,
Dan has been using items from the Library collections
to investigate the origins of the military-industrial
complex through the wartime and immediate post-war,
meaning post-World War II, evolution of the relationship between scientific research
industry and national defense. Dan’s been at CRS a long time. He’s advised Congress
on defense issues. I was a colleague of his
at CRS for several years. Dan did things that were in
connection to what I knew and a whole range of things
— Defense Production Act, Military Construction
Appropriations, and he does many more
things there at CRS where he will be
returning later this fall. He holds a Ph.D. in
Political Science from George Washington
University, and as many of you know,
at CRS, he’s the author of numerous reports on
defense trade and security. This project is the
latest example of the kind of work undertaken
by staff fellows, showcasing their
knowledge and passion about their areas of expertise. This is funded by the gift
left by the late John W. Kluge that founded the Kluge
Center back in 2000. The staff fellow is one of
nearly a hundred scholars who pass through the
center each year. It has been our privilege to
have Dan with us for the bulk of the last year and
during his tenure here. Please join me in welcoming Dan. [ Applause ]>>Dr. Daniel Else: Okay,
well, thank you very much. How’s this working? Okay? All right. All right, this is an
inquiry into the evolution of what President
Dwight D. Eisenhower in his Farewell Address to the
Nation on January 17, 1961, dubbed The Military-Industrial
Complex. Exactly what Ike meant by that
term has been debated ever since, but for the purposes
of this talk, let’s regard it as a perceived informal
alliance between a portion of the nation’s scientific
and technological community, its defense establishment,
and certain sectors of the country’s
industrial base. Specifically, we’ll focus on a World War II
temporary government agency that was created in 1940
and passed out of existence at the end of 1947: the
Office of Scientific Research and Development, or OSRD. This year, I’ve been trying to answer three relatively
narrow research questions. Why did OSRD exist? Why do those who have
studied OSRD consider it to have been superbly effective? And what are its legacies,
and are there echoes of OSRD that we can hear today? I owe a great deal of thanks
to a number of individuals who have conspired to make
this inquiry possible: the 2016 Kluge Scholars Council,
who plucked my application from the pile and deemed
it worthy of attention; the then-acting Librarian
of Congress, David Mao, for appointing me to the
position; the dedicated staff of the Kluge Center itself. I and my fellow fellows
have wanted for nothing during
our stays here. They include Emily Coccia,
Travis Hensley, Anastasia Jones, Mary Lou Reker, Daniel Torello,
and he who must not be named, the brand new Kluge Center
director, John Haskell. The other stars in this drama
are the fantastic resources of the Library of
Congress itself. I have wallowed through
the library for a full year and barely touched upon its
resources that bear directly on my own small project. There are, of course, the stacks
and stacks of books maintained by the Collections and Services
Division, under Helena Zinkham; the online catalogs that
guide you and through which these treasures are
brought to you; the e-journals that stretch back
decades; the databases of congressional documents
and the laws of the land. Special mention is merited
for two unique resources: the most complete collection
of technical reports prepared under contract to the OSRD, along with scientific
intelligence gathered by the Alsace missions to the
European and Pacific theatres of operation, which are
curated here by Lawrence Marcus and his colleagues in
the Library’s Automation, Collection, Support, and
Technical Reports section. And the Personal Papers
collection entrusted to Jeffrey Flannery and the crew of the Library’s
Manuscripts division. They, with some help
from their contemporaries at the Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman Presidential
Libraries, and archivists at the Harvard University
and Massachusetts Institute of Technology provided
the material from which this study has come. And by the way, the
relevance of the holdings at the library were highlighted
by an inquiry today received by Lawrence Marcus and his crew for a specific OSRD technical
report that is wanted by another government agency. If there’s a central
figure to this story, it’s Dr. Vannevar Bush. Vannevar rhymes with
“achiever,” or in his case, perhaps, “over-achiever.” An inveterate inventor, professor of electrical
engineering at MIT and co-founder of the
company now known as Raytheon, he was Dean of MIT’s School
of Electrical Engineering and the institute’s
vice-president before he moved to the capital at the
beginning of 1938 to take up the directorship of
the Carnegie Institute of Washington, now known as the
Carnegie Institute for Science. During World War II, he
was appointed as chair of the National Defense
Research Committee and later became the director
of its umbrella organization, the Office of Scientific
Research and Development, and became the unofficial
scientific advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt. These wartime organizations
exerted a profound influence on the impact of technology
on the conduct of the war, including the introduction
of atomic weapons and the ensuing post-war
relationship between the federal government
and scientific research that has developed since 1945. Today, government support
for scientific research, especially at the most basic
level, is taken for granted. This was not always the case. Traditionally, what passed for
scientific inquiry was supported by individual fortunes
or by wealthy sponsors. After the creation of the
United States, even inquisitive, science-minded chief
executives found it difficult to expand support for
American science beyond private philanthropy, primarily
due to the strict reading of the Constitution by
states’ rights advocates. There was no explicit
mandate to support science, so any federal support to
efforts such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition,
the founding of the Naval Observatory in
1830, or geological surveying and mapping projects
had to be justified under the Constitution’s
Article I, Section Eight: admonition of Congress
to regulate commerce with foreign nations and
among the several states and with the Indian tribes. Thus, science had to
be good for business. In the middle of all this, a wealthy British chemist
inadvertently threw a constitutional hand grenade. James Smithson, never
married and without children, died in 1829, leaving
his considerable estate to his nephew. Said nephew, likewise
unmarried and without heirs, had the audacity to pass
away himself in 1835. Anticipating this, Smithson has
stipulated that the next use of his endowment would be
to found in Washington, a place he had never
visited, under the name of the Smithsonian
Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion
of knowledge among men. Congress belatedly
accepted the bequest in 1838 and started seven
years of haggling over what the ensuing
institution should be: a library, a university, a
museum, or something else. Its first secretary,
Joseph Henry, steered it into becoming a
center for scientific learning. At the same time, the benefits
of scientific enhancements to the nation’s dominant
agriculture economy were becoming apparent, especially
along the agriculture-dominated frontier of the Midwest. Prodded by Professor
Jonathan Baldwin Turner of Illinois College, Representative Justin
Smith Morrow of Vermont introduced a bill in
Congress in 1857 to grant tracts of federal land to the
states for the purposes of established agricultural
colleges. It finally passed both houses
in 1859, but was vetoed by President James Buchanan on a strictly delineated
constitutional grounds argument. The states’ rights obstacle
soon resolved itself, though, through secession. When the congressional
delegations of the 11 seceded Southern
states absented themselves from Washington, Morrow reintroduced his land
grant bill, which was an Act in 1862, giving us what are now
known as land grant colleges. Upon the outbreak
of the Civil War, all manner of inventors
flocked to the capital to offer up their devices
for the war effort. We’ve all heard stories
of individuals showing up at the War and Navy
Departments and even at the White House, eager to demonstrate the
effectiveness of their projects. It soon got so bad
that the Secretary of the Navy appointed a Navy
Department permanent commission of three scientists to screen
the flood of suggestions. At the same time, a group
of three scientists — Alexander Basch, a geographer,
Louis Agassiz, a biologist, and Henry David — excuse
me — Charles Henry Davis, a Navy astronomer —
persuaded Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts
to introduce a bill that would put a new scientific
community at the service of the federal government
to investigate, experiment, and report on any
subject when requested by a federal department. The bill was one among
dozens that were enacted on the last day of the lame duck
session of the 37th Congress and that established the
National Academy of Sciences. After 1865, American
inventiveness turned away from war and toward
commerce and industry. Development of the lands of the
West did promote some agencies to investigate natural
resources. The Department of Agriculture,
the Department of Commerce and Labor, and the National
Park Service appeared during this period. While government research
tended toward the applied end of the research spectrum, newly-created private
foundations, such as the Rockefeller
Foundation and the Carnegie Institute
of Washington, supported much of the nation’s basic
scientific research. Military technology, though, continued to advance among the
European nations, particularly in Germany, Britain, and France. Military aircraft,
submarines, poison gas, and the machine gun
revolutionized warfare, and when the United States
entered the conflict in 1917, the country found that it had
to mobilize the entire economy and society for war and that
advancing science needed to be applied to weapons
and industrial development. In the event, though, the
conflict provided a number of lessons on how not to do it. Neutrality before 1917 inhibited
any pre-hostility preparation; to the extent that they could, existing federal laboratories
including the newly-created National Advisory
Committee on aeronautics — NASA’s predecessor — possessed
considerable scientific expertise, but they were
oriented toward peacetime development, and once the U.S.
entered the war, had no contact with the War or Navy
Departments. Secretary of the Navy
Josephus Daniels tried to replicate the
Civil War experience by asking Thomas Edison to
head a Naval Consulting Board of scientists and engineers
to solicit suggestions for solving some of the
Navy’s pressing problems such as submarine detection. Other bodies set up
through legislation and emergency powers included
a Council of National Defense, which, like other
temporary wartime agencies, suffered from ill-defined
mission and authority. The National Academy
of Sciences, unable to assist organically,
suggested to President Wilson that a National Research
Council be established under its authority to
organize war research outside of its own membership. After the U.S. entry
into the war, the Council on National Defense
brought the National Research Council under its wing
as its research arm and the Naval Consulting Board
as its board of inventions. However, military departments
favored direct control over the research that
might affect its operations. In addition, there were
just no specific legal means for the Army or Navy to funnel
appropriated funds to civilians for specific scientific work. Therefore, the principal means by which technology found its
way into the war effort was through the temporary
commissioning of scientists and engineers into the
services themselves. Thus, between the relatively
disorganized efforts of the Council on
National Defense, the federal civilian
laboratories, and the military
services, technology and even industry could not hit
its stride before the Armistice of November 1918. Demobilization began as soon
as the guns fell silent. Scientists surrendered
their commissions and the Naval Consulting Board
effectively ceased to exist. Federal laboratories returned
to peacetime pursuits, the National Research
Council turned from organizing wartime
scientific research to the promotion of civilian
scientific societies, and it soon ceased to use
any government funding. After the war, the NACA
continued a vigorous, if sparely funded, program
of aeronautical research. The Council of National
Defense, though, had outlived its usefulness
and was suspended in 1921. Nevertheless, the Naval
Consulting Board had recommended, back in 1916, that the Navy create its
own research facility. Because various factions
could not agree on a site for the facility, the Naval
Research Laboratory was not commissioned in any
[inaudible] until 1926. All government science until
now had been concentrated on the natural sciences, but the
burgeoning industrial economy, overtaking traditional
agriculture and the advent of government planning and
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal — with those, the importance of social sciences
came to the fore. For example, in the form
of Ethelbert Stewart of the National Bureau of
Labor Statistics, on the left, and Secretary of
Agriculture Henry Wallace. FDR appointed Karl Compton,
a physicist and president of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, in 1933 to head a
Science Advisory Board. Funded by the Rockefeller
Foundation, for there was no appropriation,
the board tapped academics and industrial scientists
to study the organization of various government bureaus. In the course of its limited
life, the board suggested that the study of basic science
underpinned all other research and should become
an end in itself. It also proposed a New Deal for
science, using government funds to support research
at universities. Compton’s plan, however, proved
too ambitious and was resisted by another FDR-appointed body,
the National Resources Board, which was headed by FDR’s
uncle, Frederic Delano. Ultimately, Compton’s plan
failed to gain sponsorship. Military research during the
interwar period was minimal, and a small anecdote
may explain why. In 1934, a board headed
by former Secretary of War Newton Baker recommended
strengthening Army research and development above the
equivalent of $74 million that it was in the early 1930s. The Army General staff in
the person of Deputy Chief of Staff General Stanley Embick
responded by concluding that “the Army needs large quantities
of excellent equipment that has already
been developed.” The outbreak of World War II and the high technology weaponry
immediately deployed gave lie to such an attitude, and some within the nation’s
technology community responded. In large part, that
response took the form of a new National Defense
Research Committee, or NDRC. The three individuals most
responsible for its creation and effectiveness
were Vannevar Bush, President of the Carnegie
Institute of Washington; James Conant, a physicist
and the president of Harvard University;
and Karl Compton. They and others used the
experience of World War I and Compton’s 1930s studies to
develop a different organization for supporting the
coming war effort. The lead individual was Bush,
who used his relationship with Frederic Delano to gain
an audience in early 1940 with FDR’s close
advisor, Harry Hopkins. At that meeting, he
outlined an organization that could leverage the
prestige of its central actors to become the interface between
the existing university research organization and the War
and Navy Departments. Revising and using the existing
authority of the Council of National Defense, Bush proposed a National
Defense Research Committee that would be created by the
president within his Office for Emergency Management under his special emergency
powers that existed in 1940. The committee would be
empowered to support research on the mechanisms of warfare, except where those activities
would overlap with the NACA or the War or Navy Departments. Importantly, this NDRC would
undertake its own research on instrumentalities, methods,
and materials of warfare. Lacking any direct
statutory authority, the NDRC would be funded by
the president’s emergency funds that had been made
available to him by Congress. Hopkins persuaded FDR to meet
with Bush on June 16th, 1940, and the president gave
his immediate approval. The NDRC officially
stood up on 27 June 1940. The organizers knew
that the efforts of the previous war
floundered in part because of the separation
between military services and the research organization. Therefore, the committee
included senior representation of both the War and Navy
Departments and Bush, reporting directly
to the President, was able to cultivate close
relationships with the Secretary of War and with the
Secretary of the Navy. Scientific societies were
represented by Frank Jewett, the president of the
National Academy of Sciences who also happened to be the
director of Bell Laboratories, thus involving industry. Conway Coe, the commissioner
of patents, was also on the committee along with James Conant
and Karl Compton. The Navy was represented by
Rear Admiral Harvey Bowen, who was the director of
the Navy Research Lab, and the Army assigned a
Brigadier General G.B. Strong. As originally organized, the
NDRC set up five divisions to break down war research
into manageable disciplines. The intended vehicle for
prosecuting studies was to let contracts to
existing university and industry laboratories
for the development of various mechanisms and
other techniques useful to prosecuting the war. Where individual labs
might not prove helpful, the NDRC contracted
with universities to establish purpose-built
research centers. One such laboratory was
MIT’s radiation laboratory, or Rad lab, that
specialized in the development of airborne radar and
navigation systems. It soon became overloaded
so a second laboratory, the Radio Research Lab, was created at nearby Harvard
University to specialize in electronic countermeasures
such as radar chaff. Things soon got more
complicated, and in 1942, NDRC reorganized
into 23 separate subordinate organizations. It didn’t stop there,
though, as the Council of National Defense
brought other organizations under its umbrella. It soon became apparent that
the NDRC would be more effective if it expanded its mandate. Therefore, on June 28, 1941, FDR signed an executive
order establishing the Office of Scientific Research
and Development, or OSRD, and appointed Vannevar
Bush as its director. OSRD tied itself closely to the
relevant government agencies through its advisory council,
which consisted of Harvey Bundy, an assistant to the secretary
of war, and also the father of McGeorge Bundy,
who you may — some, those of us of a
certain age may have heard of. James Conant, now the chair of
the NDRC, Rear Admiral JA Furor, the coordinator of research and
development at the Department of the Navy, Jerome
Hunsaker, chair of the NACA, and Dr. A.N. Richards, the chair of the newly established
Committee on Medical Research. Because coordination with
the British had been close since the creation of the NDRC, the OSRD established a
liaison office in London, and with the Office of
Strategic Services, or OSS, CIA’s predecessor, getting,
which was getting involved in unconventional warfare. So Bush created a liaison with
General Donovan’s organization. Subordinate to OSRD was the
expanded NDRC, the Committee on Medical Research, which
organized development of medicines, such
as penicillin, and also developed
psychological studies — things like what was
called battle fatigue, etc. were studied. The Office of Field Services,
which deployed scientists to combat theaters to
assist with the introduction of newly developed devices and
techniques to combat commands and which staffed the
Alsos intelligence missions mentioned earlier. The Obligatory Office of
the Executive Secretary, which kept everything running, and several special
sub-organizations. Three of these organizations
are worthy of special note. Section T developed
the proximity fuse, also called a variable
time or VT fuse. This fuse caused an antiaircraft
shell or artillery shell to explode when it
reached a specific distance from an object, such as
an airplane or the ground. Its existence was considered
so secret and so effective that it was forbidden
to be used over land where it might fall
into enemy hands. Therefore, it saw its first use in the Pacific aboard
Navy ships trying to deal with the kamikaze threat;
and in Britain, where it shot down V1 buzz bombs that
were headed for London. Only after a direct
intervention by Bush himself with the Joint Chiefs of Staff
was it permitted to be deployed to Europe for use in the
ground war, just in time to have a devastating effect on
German troops during the Battle of the Bulge in December of
1944 and January of 1945. The S1 executive committee
was the Manhattan Project. Most folks know that
atomic weapons were created by the Manhattan
Project under the command of Major General Leslie Groves, but that’s only part
of the story. Development of an atomic
weapon was authorized by President Roosevelt
in 1940 under the NDRC. The Army was brought in first
during 1942 to manage the mass of construction that
the effort needed. Not until mid-1943 did the
Manhattan Engineering District under Groves begin
to assume control of the scientific contracts that had constituted the
research effort, and the NDRC, through James Conant’s
S1 committee continued to support the scientific
personnel. So, if you measure the
program initiation, if you measure the program
from initiation to the day of the first atomic device
being dropped on Hiroshima, the Army ran the program
less than half the time. The third organization of special mention is the Agency
Committee on Selective Service. World War II, during
World War II, more than 16 million Americans
served in uniform in a country that then numbered about
two hundred million. Today our active military
numbers are less than a million in a country of about
380 million. In World War II, money for
projects was plentiful, but trained technical
people were not. The services needed to bring
in soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines at an
ever-quickening pace, and eventually, even the most
highly skilled scientists were likely to be called up. The impact of the loss of just
a few trained technical people could cripple research programs. So this agency, the Agency
Committee on Selective Service, and Bush himself, were heavily
involved in securing drafting from its critical personnel. Let’s turn to the practices that
OSRD and its subordinates put in place to prosecute
their mission. Project initiation. Projects could be initiated
by a request from one of the services: the War and
Navy departments, Army, Navy, Marine Corps; or by
allies, the British, the French in exile, etc., etc. ; or on NDRC’s or
OSRD’s own initiative. Constant and close
liaisons through the Office of Field Services
and the rotation of operational personnel
through the research labs as they came back from the
field kept everyone abreast of current operations
and the needs of those who were in combat. Development in patent
registration. The labs would develop a
project to a certain point and when patents became
necessary in order to protect intellectual
property, the practice was that the office of OSRD itself
would register the patents and register them to the
United States government. However, once done, those
would be freely available for licensing at no charge to
virtually anybody who wanted. Prototyping and initial
production. Bush turned physicists
into engineers and they were all deeply
involved in creating the devices that their theoretical
approaches had created. If manufacturers were
too involved in war work or if the demand for a
particular device wasn’t going to exceed more than a
couple of hundred articles, the NDRC created the
Research Construction Company, adjacent to the MIT
campus, to handle prototype and small-scale manufacturing, so they became their
own manufacturer. At the appropriate time,
OSRD handed off projects to the services or to industry to continue large-scale
manufacturing. Finally, the Office of Field
Services provided what we would call today technical
support to the military units that receive the new equipment. Thus, OCRD and its constituent
units explicitly avoided the fate of its predecessors, such
as the Naval Consulting Board. In fact, within a month of
the creation of NDRC in 1940, Secretary of Commerce Harry
Hopkins created a National Inventors Council within
his department that acted as the World War II screen
for independent inventors, unaffiliated scientists,
and citizens at large, relieving what might have been
a crushing weight on OSRD. Let’s move on to show a few
examples of OSRD’s work: the bazooka, for example. The DUKW or “duck” [phonetic]. Any of you who have taken a tour from Union Station are
familiar with the DUKW. That was an OSRD creation
that was passed off to General Motors
for production. Development and production. Another example is what you all see in wartime
movies, the mine detector. The mine detector, a handheld
soldier-carried detector of mines in the field was
also a development of one of the research centers at OSRD. And of course, there
was airborne radar and atomic weapons. During the war, OSRD or
NDRC created a number of those centralized
research centers and these are where they were and what
they specialized in. For example, the University
of Illinois had a — was chemistry, along with
the University of Chicago. Princeton University
studied ballistics. University of Michigan
specialized in explosives. Massachusetts Institute
of Technology as we noted was radar. Woods Hall, Oceanographic
Institute: logically enough,
underwater sound. And so on and so forth. The number of contracts, the
value of contracts converted into 2017 dollars
stand as follows. There have been some
scholars who have averred that perhaps the
Northeast, elite institutions in the Northeast were
favored by OSRD contracts. However, if you take
a quick look at the non-industrial
contractors, the top 25, they’re scattered
from coast to coast. I don’t think there’s much
value to the allegations. Also, the industrial
contractors, they would be contracted
not only to conduct research but to provide manufacturing,
and you can see them there. The Research Construction
Company, as we saw before, was number two on
that, for the number of devices that they created. Okay, post-war scientific
research. What happened after
the war was over? Well, OSRD wound down almost
immediately to be replaced by a permanent entity. The idea, Bush’s idea
was that we wanted to institutionalize
the federal funding of basic scientific research, and this was an opportunity
to do it. There was a consensus
on the need for federally funded basic
scientific research but not on the form or the mandate. So, essentially two
camps were created to conceptualize what became
the National Science Foundation. You had Bush on one side, and
you had Senator Harvey Kilgore of West Virginia on the other. Bush was a classic technocrat;
he wanted everything done by the merits of the
individual project, including the organization that
would be administrating it. Kilgore, on the other hand,
was a [inaudible] New-Dealer. He wanted to make sure that
the entire country benefited from this and the research that they would fund would
be socially relevant. And in the end, President
Truman got into the act, so we essentially
had a trifecta. The original 1946 proposals for
the National Science Foundation, both Bush and Kilgore agreed that a central federal
research agency was necessary, that the natural sciences should
be its object of research, medicine should be researched,
defense should be researched. Social science research,
not so much on Bush’s side; he was a natural
scientist at heart, even though he was
only an engineer, and Kilgore on the other hand
thought that was a great idea. Geographic dispersion
of support, Bush didn’t care; Kilgore did. Applied research. Bush didn’t want to
have anything to do with applied research
because that would detract from the basic research
mandate that was supposed to be at the heart of this. Kilgore, on the other hand,
wanted to see some sort of social benefit
come out of this, so his proposal included
all of that. Patent ownership, Bush
pressed for private ownership of federally funded research;
Kilgore thought it should be, the ownership should
stay with the government. Political control
of the foundation — this would be the appointment of
the senior officers, etc., etc., and oversight by Congress. Bush, not so much. He wanted the technocrats
to run the show. Kilgore, on the other hand,
he thought it was a good idea. And should it be independent
of executive agencies? Both thought that was a great
idea, much as OSRD had been. So, what actually happened? In 1946 there was
no NSF legislation. The Atomic Energy Commission
was created at that time. The Office of Naval
Research was created. The War Department, realizing,
belatedly realizing the value of scientific research,
stood up a research and development division, and
the War and Navy Departments between them established a Joint
Research and Development Board, an advisory board, actually
with Bush at the head, to advise the War and Navy
Departments on research that should be conducted. The Senate managed to pass a
compromise National Science Foundation bill, but
it didn’t go anywhere. The House sat on it. Okay, let’s move
forward to the next year. Research — now we have a
Department of Defense and, therefore, the Joint Research and Development Board was
replaced by a Research and Development Board that
advised the Assistant Secretary of Defense for research
and engineering. There were seven
NSF bills introduced that year, and one passed. But because of the lack of
adequate political control in the eyes of the president, he
vetoed the bill, and OSRD went out of existence at
the end of that year. 1948, the Air Force created
its Office of Air Research. It also got involved in the
scientific research game. An amended NSF bill
passed the Senate, but the House again sat on it. In 1949, another amended
NSF bill passed the Senate. The House took no action. In the meantime, part of
the mandate of the Office of Naval Research was to
find basic research science. So as it turns out, the Office of Naval Research
became the primary funder of basic scientific research by the federal government
during this period. Finally in 1950, the Air Force
created a larger organization, the Air Research and
Development Command. The House finally
passed the Senate bill that had been passed
the year before, and the president
signed the bill, establishing the National
Science Foundation. So in that five-year gap,
what we saw was the creation of a number of military, Department of Defense
organizations for science and scientific research, and
the final NSF bill contained no mandate for military research for the National
Science Foundation. So, what are its
legacy organizations? A number of federal agencies
can trace their origins back to the OSRD. National Science
Foundation, of course, the Office of Naval Research,
the Army Research Development and Engineering, or,
and Evaluation Command, Air Force Office of
Scientific Research, DTRA, the Defense Threat Reduction
Agency, DARPA, of course, and in the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear
Security Administration, which is the custodian
of atomic stockpile. A number of research
centers exist that can trace their origins
back, at least conceptually. Universities still
have research, defense-dedicated
research centers at them, and here’s a list of what
the current inventory is. There’s also an organization
or complex of FFRDCs, or Federally Funded Research
and Development Corporation. And finally, the Department of Energy’s national
laboratories are the direct descendants; in fact, some
of them are the survivors of the Manhattan Project. So, getting back to
the research questions. Why was there an OSRD? In my opinion, timing
had a lot to do with it. It was only 20 years between
the end of World War I and the initiation of the US
involvement in World War II. So the lessons that were learned
during World War I were still fresh, and the people who
learned those lessons were in positions of senior
management by the time it became necessary. The opportunity. The state of the
federal government and of industry was propitious. We were coming off at the end
of the New Deal at that point. Federal government had
expanded a lot during the 1930s and so it now might have had the
capability of actually taking on the management of a research and development effort
of this magnitude. Also, the US enjoyed a
very robust industrial base at that point in time. They could also respond. The individuals involved. FDR, goes without saying; the
triumvirate of Bush, Compton, and Conant, who were all
interested in the topic and had eminent, were eminently
qualified to carry it through. And the need: technological
war was evident, and the US found itself in
1939, 1940 far behind the state of military science in
Germany, Britain, and in France. So why was it so effective? Really the crux of the
matter comes down to the fact that there was a war on. There was a mindset that
required cooperation, collaboration, and dedication. And also, a significant factor
was the organizational model that was chosen by Bush and his
compadres to manage the effort that was needed to
support the war. And what was the OSR’s legacy? Well, first and foremost
was the USA’s monopoly on atomic weaponry that
existed between 1945 and 1949. That was a gift that FDR
was very cognizant of, and Harry Truman also. Second would be the enduring
relationship that came out of the war between
the scientific and technical communities, the
federal government in general, and the Defense Department
in particular, and the industrial base
that had supported them. But this came at a
cost during the war. Essentially, the training of technical personnel during
World War II was frozen. All effort went into what
was immediately going to be available to
prosecute the war effort. Therefore, there was very little
training of, at the master’s and doctorate level, of
scientific personnel, and Bush felt that
very strongly. So he put into the NSF
legislation the ability to provide scholarships and graduate fellowships
for scientific training of personnel
after the war. But what is a legacy
that we don’t hear, that perhaps we should? And that is, as we saw from
the legacy organizations that were listed at the
end of the presentation, all of the organizations
listed there are part of the federal government,
in one way or another. There is no independent voice. And we found during World War II that the independent research
initiated by NDRC and OSRD as part of their war
effort provided real value to the services that they
sometimes did not want to accept but found to be very effective. For example, the application
of operational research, statistical analysis to strategy
and tactics, something that Army and Navy had never considered
and were not interested in. But it proved extremely
effective in the war against the U-boats in the Atlantic, and in other
areas and theaters of war. The DUKW itself, the Army
Quartermaster Corps couldn’t have cared less about
an amphibious truck that could ferry goods from a
ship off shore to the beach. But it proved extraordinarily
effective after it was introduced
in Sicily in 1943. And afterwards, president
Marshall, or — excuse me — General Marshall, the
Army Chief of Staff, told the Army Quartermaster
Corps chief to congratulate his troops on
the development of the DUKW, although they had nothing
to do with it and they had to accept it over
their own objections. So the independent voice
could be a very effective and useful tool that
no longer exists. With that, I thank
you very much. [ Applause ]>>We have time for
a few questions. There’s mics on both
sides [inaudible], and Dan will call on you.>>Daniel Else: Or I
might not call on you. [Inaudible] There he is.>>Superb as — Is it on? I wondered whether, in
terms of why it was effective. Now, I’m making this
up as we go. You know from ten years
since I’ve had the pleasure of doing business with you. I wonder if there was a
coincidence between the state of military art and the state
of the physical sciences so that the physical science —
where the physical sciences were about to go that nicely
just happened to mesh. What I’m thinking of is, military power was largely
contained in very large, discrete objects that
were very lethal: submarines, bombers
and so forth. And if you happened
to come up with a way to detect small numbers of very
large — hey, that’s not bad. We’re now at a point where
we’re dealing with individuals and the state of physical
and social science and behavioral sciences,
not so clear at how much leverage
there is there. I mean, we tried
the, you know, the, what’s the human terrain
teams and so forth and so on. But it doesn’t seem to have
gained the kind of leverage that this process you’ve
described so well here did. And I wonder if there
was something I — again, I’m just making
this up as I go. But I wonder if it just happened
to be just the right point, both in the state of the
arts of war and the state of the physical sciences
that, by God, it meshed like hands in a glove.>>Daniel Else: Thank you for
that insightful question, Ben. I can only guess. And in hindsight,
everything looks like it really should’ve
worked out that way: boy, what a coincidence. I think, though, if
you take a look at it, the folks who were going through
it in 1949, 1945 didn’t think that it was just a coincidence. They had to work very,
very hard and think outside of a whole number of boxes to
be able to come up with things like the VT fuse, the airborne
radar, submarine detection, etc., etc. Magnetic anomaly
detection was originated during this period. So I wonder — I must defer the
question but pose another one. To what extent, I wonder, does the outside influence,
the outside status, let’s say, of something like NDRC that
promotes independent thinking, how much did that play into
a specific number of devices? And I suspect there are
a significant number, but you’d have to do a whole
lot of research to figure out. Because the way that
the cooperation worked, perhaps some soldier in the
field would suggest something like a rocket-propelled grenade. Okay, well, NDRC would then
say, “Oh, that’s a good idea,” jump on it, develop it,
hand it off to industry. Who gets credit for that? Because a lot of —
I’ll give you an example of the atomic bomb. That was something that
in Vannevar Bush’s view, was going to happen anyway. It didn’t require a letter
from Albert Einstein to FDR. It didn’t require anything
else, because as soon as nuclear fission, atomic
fission was discovered and proven in 1938, the
entire scientific community, whether it was funded by
governments or not, took off. They were looking to
see, is there a — is it feasible for there
to be atomic fission? And if so, then what
can we do with it? And so it was going
to happen anyway. And so what Bush did
was he convinced FDR that this was something that
we needed to get in front of, and who knew how far
along the Germans were, because they discovered
the darn thing. And so that became
the Manhattan Project. But it was something that eventually would’ve
happened anyway. So timing, as I noted
earlier, is critical in life. Ninety-nine percent of
success is showing up. But you’ve got to be in the
right place at the right time. Anybody else? Yes, ma’am.>>Thanks. I had a, first I had a couple
questions, just a short — you said the Department
of Defense was created, what was — What year? Did you say –>>Daniel Else: 1947. National Security Act of 1947. Its original title
was the Department of National Defense, yeah. Department of National Defense.>>Okay. Perfect. And then my second
quick question was, what were the other countries? You said that the U.S.
was technologically behind militarily in 1939, 1940. You said Germany, France and?>>Daniel Else: Britain.>>Britain, okay.>>Daniel Else: Britain likes
to claim a lot of the credit for things like the atomic bomb
and radar and all that sort of stuff, but as we noted
earlier, there were a lot of people working on a lot of
things at that point in time. So who gets credit? Whoever has the loudest
press release, I guess.>>And then my final
question was, I was curious how far we
were behind those countries. If you could kind
of give examples — you spoke a little bit about
it in the answer earlier about Germany, but
I was just curious like how far we were behind,
and then any other examples.>>Daniel Else: Well, I don’t
know how you could develop a metric for that,
especially a statistically significant metric. But many of the — let’s
just say many of the ideas that were later developed into war devices originated
elsewhere and were brought in. We benefitted greatly by the
number of emigres from Germany who came over just
prior to World War II. They brought their scientific and technical knowledge
with them. The Brits, the Brits,
when they got — when they were getting their
butt handed to them in 1940, came over to the United States
and started pushing on us some of their laboratory
concepts that had maybe, might have been helpful. For example, the
klystron, which is the heart of not only your
microwave dinner, but also the airborne radar. They brought over a laboratory
sample and then we had to take it and turn it into something they could
actually use in an airplane. The variable time fuse, the
VT fuse originally started out a little bit as an idea
that somebody in the UK had. They brought it over. We had to turn it into something
that would survive 20,000 Gs when fired out of a
cannon and still explode at the other end
at the right time. So let’s just say
we did not have — we had not devoted the thought
to developing the groundwork for development, but
once we got the ideas, we were very successful in
turning them into something that made a difference
on the battlefield.>>Thank you.>>Hi. My question is, a lot of
the devices that you’re talking about that were developed
in the war period, and even in the decades
after, eventually filtered out into other civilian uses, like you just mentioned
the microwave, etc. To what extent is
that still happening, and is there a pipeline
between — that pipeline between
what’s developed in these military
research studies out into civilian
life and industry?>>Daniel Else: Well, I don’t
think there’s a way to measure, let’s say, the flow of
the number of ideas. But if you take a
look at the funding, let’s just say the funding,
that goes into research and development, on the part
of the federal government, particularly the
Department of Defense, and let’s say private
industry, that line — we started the post-war period
with the Department of Defense or War and Navy Departments
kind of up here, and commercial entities
down here, and that line crossed
in the early 1950s. And it looks like this now. So that’s why you see,
that’s why you see soldiers out in the field using
their smartphones: because they’re smarter than anything DoD can
give them and such. And there are, though — DoD
has been conscious of that, and over the recent
years, let’s say, they’ve been trying very
hard to build pathways to bring commercial
technology back into the defense and create pathways such
that that can happen quickly, expeditiously and,
hopefully, cheaply. And in fact, there’s a member of the audience here you can
address that specifically to after we get finished. Okay, two more. Time for two more. Just over here and
in the center.>>You had your hand up.>>Daniel Else: Oh. [Inaudible] Oh, I did? Okay. Then over here,
and then in the middle. Thank you. [ Inaudible ]>>Real quickly,
you mentioned a lot of the bureaucratic
characteristics of the OSRD that contributed to its
successes: independence, its ability its own projects, its ability to work very
closely with the services. What lessons would you say
that the services should take from that in the contemporary
environment with the development of a bunch of rapid acquisition
pathways, prototyping funds that they should carry forward to have those efforts be a
little bit less fragmented and a little bit
more successful?>>Daniel Else: Hmm. Well, trying to make it
less fragmented implies that you need a central
organization that’s actually governing it. And as we just — you just
saw a sampling of the number of organizations in
the Department — just within the Department
of Defense that are devoted to research and engineering,
and so therefore, I think until you get a
strong, centralized authority within the department,
you’re always going to have fragmentation like that. But one advantage was,
as we mentioned earlier, OSRD was outside the government. And what it did was its
contract, it contracted with existing scientific
organizations at universities, so that they didn’t
move the scientists into the War Department
or the Navy Department. They left them at
their universities. They created spaces for them
to work at their universities, and therefore, they
didn’t disrupt the programs that were ongoing. So I think that contributed,
too. And so I think you need a
centralized authority to kind of get a handle on that. I don’t know if that’s possible. And a minimal disruption
to the existing status of the research environment
that’s ongoing. And over here?>>Yes. Mark Wilson has written about the rather
extensive lobbying that went on before the war and at the
start of the war to make sure that defense production
was concentrated in the private sector rather
than the public sector. And one consequence of this was
that we had a lot of conversion of existing industrial plants
for defense production rather than construction of new
perhaps government-owned plants for defense production
or so is his argument. How does the research story
that you’re telling relate to this effort to make sure
that what was produced resulting from this research was
predominantly produced in the private sector?>>Daniel Else: First of all,
I want to take a little bit of issue with the idea that
the government didn’t build a massive industrial base
specifically for the war effort. They did. In fact, in fact, there was something called
the Defense Plant Corporation that was created in the early
1940s to do exactly that. They would build a
facility, they would build, they would stock it with
all the necessary equipment, and then they would
hire a private industry to come in and staff it. That’s where you got
the defense plants. That’s where you got
the defense workers who were not federal employees; they were private
corporation employees. But the liability for
the physical plant lay with the government,
because they owned the place. Something like, something
called Plant 42 out in Palmdale, California, which is, which
was operated essentially by Lockheed Martin,
the Skunk Works, that was a federally
funded, federally built plant in the 1940s that was operated
by a contractor over the years. So the idea that — well, the reason for that lobbying
effort was, after World War I, the War and Navy Departments
cancelled outstanding war contracts. The armistice took
everybody by surprise. We were just gearing up,
there were massive numbers of contracts out there, civilian
corporations had converted over to war production, and all of a sudden, the
lights went out. And there were lawsuits
for the liability of those cancelled contracts that extended well
into World War II. So in order to avoid that, we had the defense plant
corporation product, that scheme of approaching
industrial production. You can kind of see
some of the same thing in the OSRD organization in that
they did it all by contract, and they contracted
out to research centers at universities —
some in industry, but mostly at universities — and if they needed
a temporary sort of research center,
it would be built. And then they would staff it
from the university staffs. And so that was kind
of the same model. And then, but after the war, most of those research
centers went away, and they were replaced, as
you saw, over the years, with other research centers
dedicated to other purposes. Thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at LOC.gov.


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