The right way to Use The Previous to Perceive The Future

A brand new guide printed by the Historic Workplace of the Secretary of Protection describes modifications in navy weapons techniques acquisition in the course of the 15 years following World Conflict II. “Rearming for the Cold War 1945-1960” by retired Air Power Col. Elliott V. Converse III is the primary in a five-volume sequence of books specializing in the historical past of the acquisition of main weapons techniques by the Protection Division. The guide’s 766 pages comprise an in depth examination of navy acquisitions in the course of the early years of the Chilly Conflict, and they’re stuffed with case research, character profiles, charts and pictures.

Throughout a latest joint interview with AFPS and The Pentagon Channel, Converse stated the guide and its companion volumes weren’t written for historians. Moderately the hassle is “primarily aimed at the acquisition workforce, the people who do acquisition day-to-day and perform acquisition for their careers.” It is anticipated that protection coverage determination makers would additionally acquire one thing from the books, he added. Converse earned a doctorate in historical past from Princeton College and served because the lead historian on the Protection Acquisition Historical past Mission workforce. Through the joint interview, Converse stated he was drawn to learning this “very dramatic” time period. “This was the beginning of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. When the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957, Americans realized we might be vulnerable if they can put a satellite up there,” Converse stated. “There was great concern that our weapons systems counter a threat like that. There was a lot of drama in the 1950s and 1940s.”
Following World Conflict II, U.S. protection coverage makers had been satisfied that the US’ potential to take care of navy supremacy rested on having superior know-how, Converse stated. “One important thread that runs through the volume is the consensus that American leaders had at the end of World War II that the United States would seek security in the future by maintaining an advantage in the most technologically advanced weapons systems over any possible opponents,” he stated. “They realized that the U.S. could not have an army as big as the Soviets or the Chinese or probably deploy as many systems as they could. So, the theory was that by having the most advanced systems, we’d be able to offset that advantage in terms numbers and equipment.” That concept of the need of sustaining technological superiority to make sure nationwide safety affected how weapons techniques had been developed, produced and deployed, Converse stated. It additionally decided how the Protection Division and the navy companies organized their acquisition efforts and led to modifications within the acquisition workforce. The technique of concurrency “was in contrast to the way systems were developed before World War II,” Converse stated, noting the pre-war system “was a sequential, deliberate system. You’ll design the weapon, you’ll develop the prototype, you’ll take a look at it, you’ll produce it. All that may be finished in sequence. The issues related to the technique of concurrence had been forgotten after the Korean Conflict, Converse stated, because the U.S. entered into an arms race with the Soviet Union to develop ballistic missile techniques that would ship nuclear warheads from continent to continent. Every of the companies used concurrency of their acquisition packages to develop ballistic missiles, he stated, they usually encountered the identical issues with concurrency that had been encountered in the course of the Korean Conflict. However the scenario was now totally different. Regardless of going through the identical conundrum, Converse warned in opposition to attempting to create precise analogies between present conditions and people of the previous.

“People have said that history does not repeat itself — it rhymes,” Converse stated. “You can’t draw exact lessons from the past because the situations are not the same. … The value of history is that by taking a look at the past you can see how your predecessors in this field addressed problems. … History tends to broaden your perspective.” Converse offered his guide Could 10 to an viewers within the Pentagon in the course of the second installment of the DOD Historical past Speaker Collection. He was joined for a panel dialogue by a number of different authorities. Benjamin F. Cooling, a professor on the Industrial Faculty of the Armed Forces, set the guide within the general historic context of protection acquisition. Jacques S. Gansler, a former undersecretary of protection for acquisition, know-how and logistics, provided his perspective on the guide primarily based on his expertise managing DOD acquisition. Roy L. Wooden, dean of the Protection Techniques Administration Faculty, moderated the panel.