Robert Strange McNamara 1916-2009

Skybolt

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So, Robert McNamara passed away at 93, in his home in Washington - DC.
With him goes the history of 7 critical years in the development of today's world. His legacy, right or wong, is immense. No other SoD has been so infuentilal, athough some has been more viisionary (Schlesinger and Rumsfeld in his second tenure come to mind). Pity that the numerous interviews he was asked in recent years never actually touched the sensitive questions, and when they did, was served with some mix of "zeitgeist" re-vision of the past (see the masterpiece "The fog of war"). Requiescat.
 

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I wish that he had touched the sensitive areas in interviews during the last years of his life. I hope that some mention is given to him in the media in the wake of the Michael Jackson funeral since he was the architect of the Vietnam War and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and responsible for the fire-bombing of Japan during World War II. He affected the lives of more Americans than Michael Jackson.
 

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Hmmm, not supposed to be political, so I offer the following as points for discussion.

The Ford Edsel, F-111 and Vietnam body count are what he will be remembered for, and none are anything to be proud of.

As a professional historian, I would point out that history does not die with a person, only their chance to give their version of events. I doubt that with so little to be proud of he would ever have spoken anything of real value, just tried to put his spin on things.

On the F-111, a book called Illusions of Choice by Coulam (forget first name) pulls apart the idea of designing by use of analysis and 'objective' decisions, as McNamara and his 'whiz kids' tried to. Worth a read, if you can find it (it is from the 1970s).
 

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Well, "Illusions of Choice" is a classic. Pity that with all the material the author had available, he choose, very academical style, to don't put anything in the way of drawings, illustrations, and so on in his book...
Maybe I'm a little too philosophical these times, but I think McNamara SHOULD be remembered for MIRV, the Pave program(s), Strat-X, and A-7. Probably, he would have not made the "commonality" error in later years of his tenure. Too much power, too much confidence, and a blank paper from the President. The rest (Dyna-Soar, the RS-70, even Skybolt, sigh, that was killed on account of a grave misrepresentaion of strategy on part of SAC) were things another SoD would have done the same. Vietnam wasn't his fault, his influence on the events is minor compared with other's. The two greatest error in my opinion were one minor (opposition to the nuclear carriers), and one colossal: the nurturing of the idea of MAD and the illusion that the Soviets agreed. But, alas, he wasn't alone in that (Brodie, anyone ?). And from MAD came a lot of nasty things (interruption of Titan development, muddling with ABM, confusion on counterforce etc.).
 

Michel Van

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yes, he canceled and kill allot of programs

in World were he never was secretary of defense
would be no F-111
but Dyna-Soar, B-70 and Pluto flies.

and world recover slowly from nuclear war...

at one thing Robert McNamara was right man at right time
during The Cuba missile crisis
 

RyanC

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So on the news today is the news that Robert Strange McNamara died in his sleep around 5:30 this morning.

[edited by Admin]

You might think I am speaking too harshly of Mr. McNamara; but his most common tactic in fighting the bureaucratic wars of the 60s in the Department of Defense was to outright lie or make facts up.

In April 1963, the “First Navy” study was given to McNamara. It concluded that “nuclear propulsion does permit a significant increase in the beneficial military results for a given expenditure,” and that CVA-67 and all other future major warships should be nuclear powered.

Of course, Strange took that report and shoved it into his desk and ordered another study to be done.

The “Second Navy” study arrived on his desk in September 1963 and was quite detailed and focused on the lifecycle cost differential between oil and nuclear powered task forces. It concluded that there was only a 3% cost differential in favor of the oil burning task force; but the advantages of a nuclear task force were so great as to outweigh the slightly increased cost.

Advantages? Well…in the words of the Navy in 1964:

“a nuclear CVAN-67 is designed to carry ammunition, aircraft fuel, and propulsion fuel for conventional escorts sufficient to deliver at least 60% more airstrikes than a conventional CVA-67 before replenishing.”

So what does Strange do?

Why of course he rejects it totally, gins up some supporting data of his own from OSD, and asserts:

“I am absolutely certain of one thing, that the six conventional task forces are superior to five nuclear task forces.”

He then continued to reject any further analysis of the CVA(N)-67 issue by the Navy and ordered it to be constructed as a oil-burner in a memo to SecNav Korth on October 9, 1963.

One of the key scenarios OSD ginned up to discredit the nuclear powered carrier was that of a High Speed Run across the Atlantic.

The Director of Defense Research and Engineering in OSD, Harold Brown assumed that the conventionally powered carrier had 100% availability and absolutely perfect positioning of underway replenishment ships.

These assumptions kept the oil-burning CV only 4 hours astern of the CVN after five days of high speed running.

Unfortunately, Admiral Hayward, who did do high speed runs on both CVNs and CVs, reported that during his transit of the Atlantic on a conventional carrier, the sea was so rough that underway replenishment wasn’t possible, nor could he bring his escorts alongside for refuelling from the carrier.

This led to the carrier burning aviation fuel in its boilers to make its destination.

His influence was also not limited to just the US Navy’s Nuclear Ambitions, and the US Air Force’s Big Bomber Ambitions, but also impacted the US Army; in ways other than his gutting of U.S. Continental Air Defenses.

The Army had a Small Nuclear Power Plant (SNPP) Program designed to produce small nuclear reactors to power the DEW Line and McMurdo Station in Antartica, which would be more cost efficient than having to fly in huge quantities of diesel fuel, etc to power the outposts each year.

One of the reasons it died was Vietnam’s escalating costs forced a lot of “bonus” programs to be cut to fund the war; in much the same way a lot of good programs died to pay for Iraq.

But a major cause was outright fraud by McNamara’s OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense).

Around 1960 or thereabouts, OSD decided to no longer factor in the cost of shipping the fuel for a conventional power generation system to remote locations in deciding the cost/benefit ratio of SNPPs vs Fossil fuel plants.

As you might imagine, this of course made SNPPs look very uneconomical compared to their fossil fuelled counterparts….which was precisely the point.

I could go on listing more things McNamara screwed up, but I think I’ll stop here.
 

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I liked Kelly Johnson's comment on him "never try to talk to a guy who's reading the paper and eating lunch" or something to that effect.
 

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mmm, the B-70 was killed by changing times and by a lot of people (starting with Eisenhower, mind you, on purely military grounds). I disagree on the F-111 and Dyna Soar: in a different time-line there would have been an F-111 and no Dyna-Soar all the same, but the F-111 would have been an Air Force strike aircraft, maybe built by Boeing or Republic (or, why not, GD). There surely would have not be an F-14, maybe an F12F, or a F2J, guess what ? A "sure" Dyna Soar could have derived from a different unfolding of events in late '50s, for example the US having a sufficiently powerful booster to loft Asset. After the establishment of NASA, the main influence on manned space mission came from the civil agency, and it was NASA who chose the ballistic capsule as the manned space vehicle paradigm (with parts of the Air Frce consurring, BTW). Probably there would have been a Skybolt, if a different SoD had more condiscendency towards the SAC messed-up weapons justifications. Initially that would have been of minor momentum (except for UK...), but in prospective.. a Skybolt-III with a 3000 miles range and terminal guidance aboard a long endurance aircraft in late '70 would have changed the overall strategic picture.

a guy who's reading the paper and eating lunch
pretty much large corporation's top management style, then and now, I'm afraid....

Regarding Pluto, I don't know. It is difficult to assert how much support the nuclear ram-jet had in the Air Force and the civilians in Pentagon. Too much of later comments by protagonist are skewed to project a sageness image... (sageness of later age, or I should say "political correctness") . And remember that SLAM was cancelled in 1964.
 

Stargazer2006

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Concerning the nuclear reactor for the DEW-line radar stations, which was part of a joint AEC-US Army programme for small and medium mobile or stationnary power reactors, there might have been another and more objective reason why it was not fielded : its prototype, SL-1, was destroyed in one of the first major reactor accident on January 3, 1961 :

T"he world's first fatal atomic accident occurred on January 3, 1961 when a small, 3MW experimental BWR called SL-1 (Stationary Low-Power Plant No. 1) in Idaho was destroyed after a control rod was removed manually.

At 9:01pm, alarms sounded at the fire stations and security headquarters of the U.S. National Reactor Testing Station where the reactor was located. Investigation found two operators dead (third died later), and detected high radiation levels in the building.

A careful examination of the remains of the core and the vessel concluded that the control rod was manually withdrawn by about 50 centimeters (40 centimeters would have been enough to make the reactor critical), largely increasing the reactivity. The resulting power surge caused the reactor power to reach 20,000MW in about .01 seconds, causing the plate-type fuel to melt. The molten fuel interacted with the water in the vessel, producing an explosive formation of steam that caused the water above the core to rise with such force that when it hit the lid of the pressure vessel, the vessel itself rose 3 meters in the air before dropping back down.

The SL-1 accident was the first fatal nuclear accident in the United States. The men killed in the incident were two Army Specialists, John Byrnes, age 25 and Richard McKinley, age 22, and Richard Legg, a 25 year old Navy Electricians Mate. Richard McKinley was interred in Arlington National Cemetery. John Byrnes and Richard Legg were buried in their hometowns in New York and Michigan".

One might suspect this accident did not work in favor of nuclear power for the DEW Line.
 

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Mr. McNamara may go down as one of the worst of the "intellectual" bureaucrats ever to serve in public office. He decimated advanced weapons designs as related to the Triad and the nuclear infrastructure. The US was developing technologies the Soviets could never hope to match. McNamara's tenure saw the Soviets understand that they would be given a chance to catch up under the misguided policy of MAD. Parity was essential for the strategy.

So of course it is quite coincidental that Obama is in Moscow further eroding our nuclear deterrent.

New report released by the New Deterrent Working Group - http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/p18117.xml further showing, unequivocally, the "die on the vine" strategy that the politicians have taken towards our most vital of weapons systems and what needs to be done about it.
 

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bobbymike said:
Mr. McNamara may go down as one of the worst of the "intellectual" bureaucrats ever to serve in public office. He decimated advanced weapons designs as related to the Triad and the nuclear infrastructure. The US was developing technologies the Soviets could never hope to match. McNamara's tenure saw the Soviets understand that they would be given a chance to catch up under the misguided policy of MAD. Parity was essential for the strategy.

Parity was irrelevant for MAD, what is required is a secure nuclear deterrent force and not even the highest absurdities of USAF wishlists (If memory serves, at one point LeMay or Powers was asking for ten thousand Minutemen and 600-700 RS-70s) would have been able to deny the Soviets the ability to develop a secure nuclear deterrent force (and indeed, trying to keep such a supremacy when it wasn't workable may have increased the likelihood of war due to launch on warning or other strategic stances). If parity were essential, the French and British nuclear arsenals would have been entirely useless. So too would the Chinese minimum deterrent, which is an even lower level than MAD.

Personally, I don't get a lot of the hate directed towards McNamara. He wasn't perfect, he made mistakes, big deal. He wasn't the anti-Christ of the DoD either.
 

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sferrin said:
I liked Kelly Johnson's comment on him "never try to talk to a guy who's reading the paper and eating lunch" or something to that effect.

This I believe is referring to an incident when Lockheed and AF were to make a presentation to him (per Congressional direction) on the merits and costs of the F-12B. Since he had to be there, he was. However, so the story goes, he never acknowledged their presence, and just read the paper and ate a meal during it. When it was over, he never looked up, they left and everything presented never intruded on his worldview.

This was vintage McNamara. He was not interested in opinion, information or input from anyone except himself and his close clique of advisers. What was important was his ego and his image. Nothing else.
 

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RyanCrierie said:
So on the news today is the news that Robert Strange McNamara died in his sleep around 5:30 this morning.

Unfortunately, that’s five decades too late. The world will not miss the likes of him, a known fraudster and con artist.

You might think I am speaking too harshly of Mr. McNamara; but his most common tactic in fighting the bureaucratic wars of the 60s in the Department of Defense was to outright lie or make facts up.

In April 1963, the “First Navy” study was given to McNamara. It concluded that “nuclear propulsion does permit a significant increase in the beneficial military results for a given expenditure,” and that CVA-67 and all other future major warships should be nuclear powered.

<snip>

I could go on listing more things McNamara screwed up, but I think I’ll stop here.


Couldn't agree more; Interestingly enough, nuclear carriers was the only significant issue he ever acknowledged that he was incorrect, blaming it on "incomplete information" given to him for analysis. He did authorize the first three Nimitz carriers during the end of his tenure. He only did this because even he couldn't sweep the Vietnam War that he was so badly bungling under the rug, and the performance of Enterprise vs conventional carriers could not be ignored.
 

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A-ah, that's the way I like this forum discussing !!! ;)
Bobby, less warheds on less launchers mean a big advantage for those who have a working ABM, and will spur more work for better RVs (Putin understands this very well and he is against any reduction without eliminating ABMs; Mevdedev too probably understands, but he has other priorities) ... and a seven years time limit for reduction (even if the Senate AND the Duma approves it) is a loooooooooooooooooooog time. Wait and see. Could even be that by 2012 Russia will be in NATO.... (what about NETO, Northern Emisphere Treaty Organization). Russia real enemies are Chinese squatters in the Far East. And anyway, remember to vote in 2010 ;D .
Returning to McNamara, I reiterate, his biggest STRATEGIC mistake was believing USSR endorsed MAD. He wasn't alone in this. CIA, anyone ? RAND, anyone ? Personally he was a SOB, but this become letal when mistakes are so great. In the end, he was a creature of Kennedy and later Johnson, they created him, and finally destroyed him.
 

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](If memory serves, at one point LeMay or Powers was asking for ten thousand Minutemen and 600-700 RS-70s)


Wow
With these numbers, and their costs of not just purchasing, but deployment and maintenance (10,000 Minutemen silo's alone!) – How would have the United States have afforded a conventional military?
One only needs to see how poorly equipped and trained the U.S Army was for conventional warfare – due to its be-all and end-all reliance on its nuclear doctrine.

I have never been a fan of McNamara!
But he recognized the dangerous short falls in the United States conventional warfighting capability, at a time when it's military was spending money like it was printing it.
The military needed to be pulled into line in both ambition and expenditure – and the ridicules inter-service rivalry.

Regards
Pioneer
 

Skybolt

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Actually the highest official Minuteman request was much lower: the highest number (AFAIK) that was actually asked for Minutemen (July 3rd 1961, "Package Plans for Strategic Retaliatory Force Program") comprised 2500 fixed Minutemen and 415 rail-mobile Minuteman, so the total number was just shy of 3000 (BTW, 275 Titans were asked, too, and 45 Polaris submarines with 720 missiles). Highest official (by the Air Force, not DoD) request for RS-70 (AFAIK) was 150 aircrafts (early planning of FY-1963 Authorizations). BTW, the total RV carried by the 2950 proposed Minutemen plus the Polaris and the Titan was probably less than the US actualy possessed after the widespread adoption of MIRV... since McNamara can be described as a true "father of MIRV", in a way the end result of the original request was okayed by him, with diferent means... ;) . And, anyway, as I mentioned in another post, all those numbers were "political" (McNamara's too), in a sense that they were not based on stringent military measns (number of target, or better aim-points, etc.), or that reasons were quiet murky. See the rather ridicolous story of the first SIOP, when it was suddenly discovered that in Moscow alone were planned for attack 178 targets or so, some of them 100 meters apart....
 

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I am currently reading "The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy" and skipped forward to a McNamara section. In this particular section it discussed McNamara coming to the conclusion that the pursuit of technological superiority would be fruitless as the Soviets seemed to "catch up" in five years or so. So the policy became one of achieving parity so, in his opinion, the never ending arms race would end or at least slow. Through this rationalization he also figured the Soviets would be happy with parity that they never would pursue superiority. This was despite Soviet military writings at the time that said they wanted a global socialist revolution. McNamara thought they were bluffing. This parity equals security argument faded when it was believed if the US stopped at 1000 or so ICBMs the Soviets would only deploy that many. That was until they kept going to 1500+.

I am really paraphrasing what the book says for the purpose of brevity but the bottom line was that McNamara did not understand the "Russian mind".
 

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What kind of name is "Strange" anyway? (Other than strange that is. ;D)
 

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sferrin said:
What kind of name is "Strange" anyway? (Other than strange that is. ;D)

It was his mother's maiden name. This English surname is derived from the Old French word estrange which means "foreign".
 

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Triton said:
sferrin said:
What kind of name is "Strange" anyway? (Other than strange that is. ;D)

It was his mother's maiden name. This English surname is derived from the Old French word estrange which means "foreign".

Interesting.
 

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bobbymike said:
This was despite Soviet military writings at the time that said they wanted a global socialist revolution. McNamara thought they were bluffing.

They weren't bluffing per se, but they were BSing. What people failed to realize is that the leadership had to pay lip service to the goals and ideals of Marxism-Leninism when in reality their actual thoughts and professional aims were altogether different. Arsenals of Folly by Richard Rhodes is a great book to describe the politics behind the nuclear arms race. One problem is that the author assumes that the Soviet lunar program failed because they dropped it in favor of nuclear buildups. False-it primarily failed because Korolev's N-1 was a colossal failure.
 

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SOC said:
bobbymike said:
This was despite Soviet military writings at the time that said they wanted a global socialist revolution. McNamara thought they were bluffing.

They weren't bluffing per se, but they were BSing. What people failed to realize is that the leadership had to pay lip service to the goals and ideals of Marxism-Leninism when in reality their actual thoughts and professional aims were altogether different. Arsenals of Folly by Richard Rhodes is a great book to describe the politics behind the nuclear arms race. One problem is that the author assumes that the Soviet lunar program failed because they dropped it in favor of nuclear buildups. False-it primarily failed because Korolev's N-1 was a colossal failure.

Yeah but it was a mighty impressive firework. ;)
 

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It's interesting that McNamara canceled the XB-70 Valkyrie since John F. Kennedy supported the program during his presidential campaign. Kennedy also criticized the Eisenhower Administration for the missile gap of the United States to the Soviet Union during his presidential campaign.
 

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Triton said:
It's interesting that McNamara canceled the XB-70 Valkyrie since John F. Kennedy supported the program during his presidential campaign. Kennedy also criticized the Eisenhower Administration for the missile gap of the United States to the Soviet Union during his presidential campaign.

Robert McNamara was the kind of person that, when he said his prayers at night, would end them with, "any questions"?
 

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Well for all his faults, it was McNamara who insisted the Army relook its mobility requirements, which led to the Howze Board. This in turn made the Army develop the Air Mobile Division which led to further development of the UH-1, AH-1, CH-54, jump starting rotorcraft from a slow third order technology.

... but other than that, he was bad.
 

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Triton said:
It's interesting that McNamara canceled the XB-70 Valkyrie since John F. Kennedy supported the program during his presidential campaign. Kennedy also criticized the Eisenhower Administration for the missile gap of the United States to the Soviet Union during his presidential campaign.

You mean the "fabricated, nonexistant" missile gap.
 

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Oh, yes, but with the complicity of (big) parts of the Air Force. You'll have only to look at Congressional records....
 

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Triton said:
It's interesting that McNamara canceled the XB-70 Valkyrie since John F. Kennedy supported the program during his presidential campaign. Kennedy also criticized the Eisenhower Administration for the missile gap of the United States to the Soviet Union during his presidential campaign.

Wasn't supporting the Valkyrie program simply an attempt to score political points by claiming the Republicans were weak on defense as the program was being scaled back to a single prototype?

[quote author=Skybolt]
Oh, yes, but with the complicity of (big) parts of the Air Force. You'll have only to look at Congressional records....[/quote]

It's not like they're going to argue against increasing their (already absurd) levels of funding.
 

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SOC said:
bobbymike said:
This was despite Soviet military writings at the time that said they wanted a global socialist revolution. McNamara thought they were bluffing.

They weren't bluffing per se, but they were BSing. What people failed to realize is that the leadership had to pay lip service to the goals and ideals of Marxism-Leninism when in reality their actual thoughts and professional aims were altogether different. Arsenals of Folly by Richard Rhodes is a great book to describe the politics behind the nuclear arms race. One problem is that the author assumes that the Soviet lunar program failed because they dropped it in favor of nuclear buildups. False-it primarily failed because Korolev's N-1 was a colossal failure.
Yeah, but please note that the N1 failed because of 1. Glushko refused to have anything to do with cryogenic fuels, 2. Glushko and Koralev hated each other anyway, 3. Kuznetsov, who replaced Glushko as provider of rocket engines for the N1, needed 24 engines or thereabouts when NASA's Saturn 5 needed "only" 5 engines for its first stage, which obviously made the N1 more complex, and 5. finally, Koralev didn't get the appropriate funds for the N1 in the 1st place, which means your author isn't entirely wrong. The Politburo DID put nukes on a higher priority than space travels.
 

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On McNamara: There is (more or less) one reason I partially hate him, and that is the - not surprisingly - the Vietnam War, and specifically (but not only) Operation Rolling Thunder. A big waste of lives on both "sides" and a big waste of money. I'm sure you'll already know why OpRTh was a failure but these are the reasons I hate it:

1. Failed strategy, using WWII ideas in a completely different type of war. Should have used precision bombing on strictly military targets and industrial targets of strategic importance with as little civilian casualties as possible.

2. Using the large, heavy B-52's as low-level tactical bombers, WTF were they thinking!? Should've used TSR-2, modified NAA Vigilante, heck even the B-58 Hustler would have been better.

3. No airmen or soldiers among those who decided the targets.

Of course, there's Agent Orange, napalm and the burning of villages too, which he as a Secretary of Defence would be responsible for.

As for his decisions on procurement, some decisions were probably short-sighted but he, and earlier Eisenhower, were right that the US defence cost too much. Not that it helped much when 'Nam sunk the dollar and destroyed the Gold Standard and the Bretton Woods agreement with it. I guess that if the money had been put into Dyna-Soar, MOL, Blue Gemini, Skybolt etc, the money would at least have stayed in USA and created jobs.
 

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Never understood what the big deal with napalm was. Blown up or burned up, dead is dead. And the pants wetting that goes with the mention of "Agent Orange" is downright ludicrous. We can thank the media for that.
 

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sferrin said:
Never understood what the big deal with napalm was. Blown up or burned up, dead is dead. And the pants wetting that goes with the mention of "Agent Orange" is downright ludicrous. We can thank the media for that.

It's not ludicrous. It really isn't possible to deny that there was massive dioxin contamination and poisoning thanks to Agent Orange.

[quote author=Hammer Birchgrove]
2. Using the large, heavy B-52's as low-level tactical bombers, WTF were they thinking!? Should've used TSR-2, modified NAA Vigilante, heck even the B-58 Hustler would have been better.[/quote]

When did they use it as a low level bomber, I thought all of its strikes were high altitude? However, SAC really didn't want to risk the possibility of losing its bombers (resulting in standing orders for B-52s to turn away and abandon the mission if they detected an SA-2 radar in the area); the TSR-2 did not exist; the A-5 was too inaccurate, too little payload, and too useful for recon; and the B-58 was looked at but rejected for various reasons as I recall.
 

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Rosdivan said:
sferrin said:
Never understood what the big deal with napalm was. Blown up or burned up, dead is dead. And the pants wetting that goes with the mention of "Agent Orange" is downright ludicrous. We can thank the media for that.

It's not ludicrous. It really isn't possible to deny that there was massive dioxin contamination and poisoning thanks to Agent Orange.

The dioxins in Agent Orange are a toxic and persistence substance that is still believed to be in the environment where it was sprayed and is in the food supply. It is believed that it is still causing health problems and is believed to be the source of cancers. Though this is a claim by the Vietnamese government.

During the war, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.[2]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_orange

Agents Purple, Pink, and Green used during Operation Ranch Hand (1962-1971) also contained dioxins.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_Dust

So I would say that the Rainbow Herbicides are a worse weapon than napalm.

The photograph "Vietnam Napalm" by Nick Út featuring a the nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc fleeing the village of Trang Bang burned, naked, and screaming had an affect on the American public's perception of napalm. This image made napalm a "big deal'.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Phuc

The decision to go to war should never be taken lightly and the American people should understand and accept that wars kill innocents in addition to enemy combatants and hostile regimes.

In the documentary "The Fog of War", McNamara believes that if the United States had lost the war in the Pacific, the Japanese would have tried him, and General Curtis Lemay, for war crimes over the decision to use incendiary bombs in a fire bombing campaign to destroy Japanese cities.
 

SSgt Baloo

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I'd like to thank you all for giving me this impromptu history lesson. They just don't cover this stuff in the classroom and unless you're a buff, you might not know all this stuff. I didn't know half of it. I heard of the RS-70 and the Skybolt missile for the first time in this thread.

What a resource this site is!
 

bobbymike

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An editorial from the latest Air Force Magazine.

http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2009/August%202009/0809edit.aspx
 

F-14D

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bobbymike said:
An editorial from the latest Air Force Magazine.

http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2009/August%202009/0809edit.aspx

Totally agree with the editorial. For someone who picked the targets, specified the weapons loads, decided how many sorties could be flown, prevented SAM sites from being attacked while under construction, forbade enemy airfields to be struck or for a long time MiGs to be attacked in the air unless they fired first, defined "success" as when the opponent's body count was higher than ours to later say that it was someone else's fault and he knew all along it wouldn't work is horrible.

Not at all going to opine whether the war was "right" or "wrong". It's just that him saying he knew all along but then ran the war for years anyway would be as if an arsonist said, "If only I could have prevented that fire I set, I could have saved all those people".
 

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F-14D said:
bobbymike said:
An editorial from the latest Air Force Magazine.

http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2009/August%202009/0809edit.aspx

Totally agree with the editorial. For someone who picked the targets, specified the weapons loads, decided how many sorties could be flown, prevented SAM sites from being attacked while under construction, forbade enemy airfields to be struck or for a long time MiGs to be attacked in the air unless they fired first, defined "success" as when the opponent's body count was higher than ours to later say that it was someone else's fault and he knew all along it wouldn't work is horrible.

Not at all going to opine whether the war was "right" or "wrong". It's just that him saying he knew all along but then ran the war for years anyway would be as if an arsonist said, "If only I could have prevented that fire I set, I could have saved all those people".
Very well put.
 

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I agree on the willing to "control" the Pentagon and the military on part of McNamara. But the President was behind him all over. It was Kennedy who wanted McNamara, and who wanted him to take control. He was his proxy, a feat Kennedy used a lot of times: use someone else as bad cop, not to have his angelical image tainted. It is impossibile to understand McNamara without Kennedy (and Johnson). Moreover, I have to reiterate that the McNamara's killing of the Valkyrie is a myth. the B-70 was killed as a weapon system by Eisenhower (you can dispute the wiseness of doing that, but not the fact) in 1959, saved by the Senate Democrats (a certain Lyndon B. Johnson in forefront) with sometime full of fantasy justification (there started the myth of X-15 idea of going in orbit taking off from the back of a Valkyrie...) and used it against the Republican ticket, forcing Eisenhower to reinstate part of the funds to save the day. After winning the election, the B-70 was killed one more time, but half-heartdly, saving the prototypes and some system (guidance and navigation) work for Mach 3 experimentation. But the Senate was more stable and tried to save the bomber one more. Both parts relented, though, and the RS-70 (or RBS-70) concept was born. The rest is history, as is history the fact that LeMay in 1964 endorsed the reduction by one of prototype production to not exceed the cost in face of constant time and cost overrunni by NAA (BTW, the entire B-70 original schedule was totally unrealistic from the start, in 1958 NAA promised first flight in 1960 !!!). This put an end to RBS-70 possibilities.
The real crime on McNamara part was the killing of Skybolt (maybe udesrtandable) and of all the ALBM concept (pure folly). Skybolt itself was ill conceived, in being neither fish nor bird: usable only on the B-52Hs, too short legged for being used on long endurance CAMEL or Dromedary-type aircrafts, even derivatives of existing types (there was a project to arm KC-135s), tagged for a mission (wholesale destruction of fixed AA installations) for which Minutemen were better suited, abysmal accuracy for the range. In other words, a slightly better Hound Dog appearing in an ICBM-crazy era. The fact is that the ALBM idea was wasted in trying to save the manned bomber and in practice hastily put together. An ALBM should've been a 2000 miles weapon with an intertial-stellar navigation suitable for the largest range of carriers possible, for dispersal of deterrent. If this could have been done in a silo-invulnerability illusion era, remains to be seen (although concepts like that were studied since 1957 at least).
 

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Skybolt said:
The real crime on McNamara part was the killing of Skybolt (maybe undesrtandable) and of all the ALBM concept (pure folly). Skybolt itself was ill conceived, in being neither fish nor bird: usable only on the B-52Hs, too short legged for being used on long endurance CAMEL or Dromedary-type aircrafts, even derivatives of existing types (there was a project to arm KC-135s), tagged for a mission (wholesale destruction of fixed AA installations) for which Minutemen were better suited, abysmal accuracy for the range. In other words, a slightly better Hound Dog appearing in an ICBM-crazy era. The fact is that the ALBM idea was wasted in trying to save the manned bomber and in practice hastily put together. An ALBM should've been a 2000 miles weapon with an intertial-stellar navigation suitable for the largest range of carriers possible, for dispersal of deterrent. If this could have been done in a silo-invulnerability illusion era, remains to be seen (although concepts like that were studied since 1957 at least).

I would think the reason he killed Skybolt was more prosaic. McNamara didn't like bombers, saw no use for them and so was not going to support anything that tended to increase their effectiveness or make them more versatile. His ego again, "If I don't like it, there's nothing more that needs be considered.

My understanding of Skybolt was that although suppression of SAM sites might be one role for it, with a range of 1,850 km its primary role would be to add additional targeting flexibility to the bomber, strike targets out of range or too heavily defended. A intertial-stellar navigation in a package of that size was beyond the technology of the time (work started in 1959), so it used an inertial system that was updated in flight by the launch aircraft. It was only usable on the B-52H because the B-52 was the only long range bomber we had in production at the time and the H was designed for it (RAF Vulcans would also have used it) nothing else had the range to both lift it and get it within launch range. This would have been true of a 2,000 mile version as well, at the time. Certainly if it had survived into the era of the B-1, it would have been usable by it.

McNamara made much of the fact that the first five flights were failures for various reasons. This was a smoke screen, as it was cutting edge technology. The Polaris missile, for example had 13 successive failures before it worked. Ironically, the same day he canceled it saying it wouldn't work, they had the first successful flight, followed by later already-funded successful flights.

Canceling it may or may not have been the right thing, that's for another topic, but I believe it was just another vintage McNamara eqo trip. After all, he did the same thing the the Blackbird production line.
 

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