History Podcasts

The McNamara Line

The McNamara Line

In September 1967, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara announced a plan for the construction of an electronic anti-infiltration barrier south of the DMZ in Vietnam. forces and its allies would respond with air strikes and artillery bombardment.What a conceptArtificial barriers predate even the cultivation of plants. Even Vietnam itself was home to two huge walls built by the Nguyen to separate themselves from the northern Trinh armies in the early 1600s.The French considered constructing a barrier at the narrow part of Vietnam. The Maginot Line was likewise constructed by the French prior to World War II.The barrier concept in Vietnam was considered as early as 1958 by American advisory personnel. The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) proposed a similar concept, manned by international forces, along the DMZ and the Laotian panhandle, in the same year. General William Westmoreland also backed a similar plan in 1964.Those barrier proposals were put on the back burner because it was thought, by officials in Washington, that heavy bombing initiated by Operation Rolling Thunder would slow the infiltration.According to The Pentagon Papers, bombing sorties numbered 55,000 in 1965 and increased to 148,000 in 1966. Bomb tonnage rose from 33,000 in 1965 to 128,000 and the number of aircraft lost rose from 171 to 318 with estimated costs totaling $1.2 billion in 1966.As the realization dawned that the bombing policy was not having its desired affect, McNamara began to seek other options.High-tech barrierA plan was devised by Harvard Law School professor Roger Fisher to install a barrier of state-of-the-art electronic devices along the DMZ and the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They reached the same conclusion on the bombing issue and expanded the infiltration barrier concept to include two components:

  • An antipersonnel barrier, manned by military personnel, spanning south of the DMZ from Laos to the South China Sea, a distance of about 160 miles. The antipersonnel barrier was to comprise minefields, ditches, Barbed Wire, and defoliated strips with military strongholds at specified, geographically advantageous positions.
  • An antivehicular barrier to interdict traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The barrier was to consist of numerous sensoring devices of various styles and applications, and monitored in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand.
  • Of operating acronyms and code namesThe McNamara Line was first given the code name “Project Nine.” MACV, U.S. Military Command, Vietnam, then changed the name of the plan to “Dye Marker,” following a compromise of the classified Project Nine sobriquet.At that time, September 1967, the North Vietnamese began Phase I of their “General Offensive, General Uprising” campaign by attacking marine positions along the DMZ. That made it especially difficult to advance the McNamara Line`s construction.As January 1968 came and went, NVA troops were massed for an all-out attack on the Marine base at Khe Sanh as part of the Tet Offensive. Sensors and hardware had to be diverted from other parts of the DMZ to Khe Sanh. After that siege ended in April, construction on the McNamara Line was abandoned.Interdicting the Ho Chi Minh TrailAs bombing shifted in March 1968 from North Vietnam to the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, the antivehicular barrier helped to increase the effectiveness of fighter-bomber sorties. The air portion of the mission to place the sensors along the trail was code-named “Muscle Shoals,” while the electronic interpretive technologies held the tag of “Igloo White.”The sensors were about 20,000 in all, either seismic or acoustic, some half-embedded in the ground, others dropped by parachute so they would hang in the trees. They came in three main types:

  • The “Acoubuoy,” 36 inches long and 26 pounds, were camouflaged and floated down by parachute;
  • the “Spikebuoy,” 66 inches long and 40 pounds, stuck in the ground like a lawn dart with the antenna camouflaged to resemble weeds;
  • and the ADSID (Air-Delivered Seismic Intrusion Detector), resembling a Spikebouy but smaller at 31 inches and 25 pounds — the most widely used sensor.
  • Other sensors included a “people sniffer,” designed to sense sweat and urine. The newly installed “Black Crow” detection system could sense truck engine emissions from 10 miles away.As Igloo White interpreted signals from the sensors, they sent out directives to guide newly developed gunships to their targets. The code name for those AC-130 gunships was “Pave Spectre.” They carried 40mm cannons capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute.Igloo White was disbanded in 1972 because of high operational costs, and military officials thought a cease-fire was imminent.


    Robert McNamara: Before Vietnam, There Was Ford

    "He wore granny glasses, and he put out a granny car." That's how one auto writer, quoted in Robert Lacey's excellent 1986 book, Ford, summed up Robert S. McNamara's tenure at Ford Motor Company, during which he launched the plain-jane Ford Falcon compact to compete with Chevy's Corvair and Chrysler's Valiant. As is so often the case with McNamara, who died Monday in Washington, aged 93, it was a neat soundbite, but nowhere near the whole story.

    McNamara was of course best known as a controversial Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, where he oversaw the escalation of America's involvement in the Vietnam War. But before Vietnam, there was the Ford Motor Company.

    McNamara was one of a group of young officers from the U.S. Army Air Force's Office of Statistical Control hired by 28 year old Henry Ford II in 1946 to help rescue the ailing automaker. The "Whiz Kids" helped install fiscal and process discipline at Ford, the management of which had become ever more ad hoc as aging founder Henry Ford's dementia grew more apparent. By 1948 McNamara had assumed the role of leader of the Whiz Kids, and was clearly on a trajectory to the top. By 1955, he was general manager of Ford Division.

    McNamara was never the archetypal Detroit auto executive. While most of the Motown elite chose to live in leafy, mansion-filled suburbs like Grosse Pointe, McNamara preferred the more relaxed campus-town atmosphere of Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan. And he had difficulty in regarding the automobile as anything more than mere transport. He was most certainly not a car guy.

    McNamara showed his iconoclastic product streak early by authorizing a four-seat Thunderbird, much to the horror of purists who saw the original two-seat T-bird as a potential rival to Chevrolet's Corvette. He was implacably opposed to the Edsel program, arguing from the outset that if Ford needed to move into the mid-price market, it would be better to simply upgrade the top-of-the-line Ford than waste money creating a new car, a new division, and a new dealer network.

    McNamara was right in both cases. First year sales of the four seat Thunderbird exceeded total sales of the two-seater since launch. And Edsel, part of an ambitious plan to tackle GM's Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac divisions that involved building three basic bodies -- small, medium and large -- across five divisions -- Ford, Edsel, Mercury, Lincoln, and Continental -- foundered in the teeth of the Eisenhower recession. With a little help from politically adroit McNamara.

    Sources inside Ford insist McNamara effectively killed the Edsel before the first car had even been sold, deliberately letting slip at its launch the car would be discontinued. The day after the first Edsel went on sale in 1957, McNamara was made a group vice-president responsible for all FoMoCo cars and trucks, and sure enough he began hacking away the division's budget almost immediately. Within months he had reduced Edsel's future product plans to little more than a different grille for 1960 Fords.

    Conceived in the late 50s, the Falcon was McNamara's sort of automobile: Inexpensive family transportation. But the Falcon would prove to be one of the single most important Ford cars ever made, for without the Falcon's cheap, light, simple platform there may never have been a Mustang.

    Former Ford boss Lee Iaccoca claims market research had identified an emerging youth market for which the Mustang was created. But that's not how product planner Don Frey saw it. "Most of the market research stuff was done after the fact," Frey told our sister publication, Mustang Monthly, way back in May 1983. "They made it all up afterwards - somebody did - in order to sanctify the whole thing. The market research that you read [of] is a bunch of bull. "

    In fact, Ford design chief Gene Bordinat and his head of advanced design Don DeLaRossa had come up with the idea of putting Ford's new 289 cubic inch V-8 into the engine bay of a Falcon, and designing sporty new sheet metal around it, to create a rival to the hot new Chevy Monza in 1961. Market research was used to sell the idea of the Mustang to Henry Ford II the following year. That the car could be built using a lot of existing hardware created for the Falcon helped the business case enormously.

    So you can draw a direct line from McNamara's Falcon to today's Mustang. And there's barely six degrees of separation between that Falcon and the new Camaro.

    How so? Well, Ford Australia starting building the original 1960 Falcon as a rival to GM's hot-selling Holden. In a nice piece of reverse engineering, Ford Australia's engineers popped the Mustang's 289 V-8 and four speed manual transmission into the 1966 Falcon sedan to create the first Falcon GT. The Falcon GT's prowess inspired GM to counter with the Holden Monaro GTS 327 coupe in 1968, igniting a performance car war that would ebb and flow between the two Aussie subsidiaries for the next 40 years. One outcome of that rivalry was the 1998 Holden Monaro coupe, which begat the Pontiac GTO, which led to the idea of a new Camaro being done off Holden's Zeta platform.

    Robert S. McNamara was made president of Ford Motor Company on November 9, 1960, the day John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon to the White House. Barely eight weeks later, on January 3, 1961, he resigned to become Kennedy's Secretary of Defense, reportedly forfeiting over $1 million in stock option profits in the process.


    McNamara Kills the Pilatus Porter

    Riverine forces fighting in the Mekong Delta depended on helicopters for air support, but there weren't enough to go around. Enter the short takeoff and landing (STOL) Pilatus Porter.

    The concept of civilian authority over the military has been a hallmark of democracy in the United States. Military leadership has never questioned it seriously, although in some instances it has been irksome, particularly in combat. Authority is the essence of the military profession, because it has such an impact on loss of life and winning battles. Leaders with great responsibility seek as much authority as they can to implement their plans for action rapidly.

    With the arrival of Robert S. McNamara as Secretary of Defense in January 1961, the nature and degree of civilian control changed dramatically. He expanded his staff with a cadre of bright young intellectuals. Micromanagement became the norm, with more control being usurped by the new incumbents. Initially, they were fascinated with the details of nuclear warfare plans and the Cold War. Then came the Vietnam War, and they were faced with the problem of stopping the advance of communism with the use of military force, many miles from the homeland. Often, results were questionable.

    For example, an elaborate "electronic fence," based on the use of Navy sonobuoys for the detection of movement on the Vietcong logistic trails, received a tremendous amount of support but failed.1 Further, naval leaders deliberately ignored at least one order from the civil authority for the use of naval air. They were certain it would fail and would result in unnecessary loss of life had the idea been implemented.2

    But some weapon systems were winners in the Vietnam War. The scope of the campaign provided opportunities and funding for development of several. The helicopter, for example, was introduced to combat during the Korean War but matured in Vietnam, particularly for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. The B-52 strategic bomber, which just a few years before had been declared "off-limits" for conventional warfare, became a master in "iron bomb" missions and has continued to gain effectiveness in the conventional warfare mission, having become a significant element in the delivery of today's precision weapons.

    One new tactic for naval warfare evolved in Vietnam from the need to protect the beleaguered South Vietnamese in the watery areas of the southern Mekong Delta. That requirement caused the creation of the "brown water" Navy, something quite foreign to the traditional "blue-water" forces. It centered around small 29-knot patrol boats (PBRs), "31-foot fiber-glass boats powered and steered by turnable water-jet nozzles. Their basic armament consisted of two .50-caliber guns, one M-60 machine gun, and a 40-mm grenade launcher."3

    They were high-speed, maneuverable, low-draft vessels, manned by a couple of commissioned officers and an enlisted crew. They were part of an organization designated as Task Force 116 (TF-116) and received air support from a small contingent of borrowed Army helicopters manned by Navy crews. By early 1966, this force consisted of 120 PBRs, supported by 20 large personnel craft, one amphibious transport (dock), and one landing ship tank (LST).4 In a message to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commander-in-chief of the Pacific Command (CinCPac) expressed his desire to increase the number of PBRs to at least 200, because the PBR/helo operations had "been effective in disrupting enemy control and use of major waterways in the Delta Region."5 In the same message, however, CinCPac pointed out that the effectiveness could not be "optimized without a concomitant increase in number of helos." More close air support was needed.

    The PBRs plied the inland waters of South Vietnam, protecting the local inhabitants who were under constant pressure from the Vietcong. They made some major contributions to the war. The tempo of their operations and effectiveness increased markedly in the late 1960s, when Admiral Elmo Zumwalt was promoted to three stars and sent to Vietnam to take command of all in-country naval forces. His aggressive inspirational leadership was reflected in the actions of this young brown-water Navy. It was an unusual role for blue-water sailors—and it was hazardous.

    This new Navy needed close air support. The PBR crews soon knew their business, but as with any surface combat operation, air support was required for reconnaissance and firepower in a firefight. The Navy in Washington had not anticipated this air support requirement and the normal acquisition process for a suitable air-support vehicle would take a lot of time. Makeshift actions came into play. Some Huey helicopters were borrowed from the Army, which really had none to spare. Machine guns were anchored to the floor of the helos, and they became "gunships" manned by Navy crews. On 1 April 1967, the existing helo detachments in country were organized into Helicopter Attack (light) Squadron Three or HAL-3.6 This squadron provided helicopter close air support to the boats. It was divided into nine detachments scattered throughout the delta. These detachments operated from five airfields and three specially configured LSTs. "A typical detachment consisted of two helicopters, a lieutenant commander as officer-in-command, with seven additional pilots, eight aircrewmen (door gunners), and an assortment of maintenance technicians."7

    No one had to view this operation very long to be aware of some of the deficiencies. The helos were old, with many maintenance problems. The high-temperature and -humidity operating conditions in the area made it difficult for the helos to realize their full payloads and lift potential. Further, rapid response depended on distance from the firefight area. Time on station was limited by the helos' fuel and payload status. Also, the noise of the helo was a dead giveaway to the enemy.

    As the PBRs moved through the waters of the delta, they were often ambushed, needing air support immediately. That meant a call for helos from the nearest operating base. Sometimes the delays in response were frustrating. Even after arriving on station, the helos still lacked the firepower and time to provide the desired protection. Of greatest significance, however, was the lack of numbers. Helos were in great demand by both Army and Marine Corps forces. The shortage was real, and this new Navy mission did not generate enough priority to provide all the assets needed to support this rapidly expanding brown-water force. So the responsible authorities in the Pentagon searched for a quick solution—something as good as or better than the rotary wing helo, something that would meet the need, at least on an interim basis, until a more permanent solution could be implemented. Enter the Pilatus Porter fixed-wing aircraft.

    The Pilatus Porter, which was designated initially as the OV-12A, originated in Switzerland, meeting a requirement for high-altitude mountain flying with a short take-off and landing (STOL) capability. It looked something like a junky Spirit of St. Louis but looks can be deceptive. It was a high-wing monoplane with a wingspan of about 50 feet, length of 37 feet, and weight of 6,100 pounds (maximum gross). Armament could vary, but in later versions it consisted of one 20-mm side-firing Gatling cannon plus up to 1,925 pounds of external stores on five pylons—two on each wing and one on the center fuselage. It could carry a variety of ordnance, including forward firing gun pods, 500-pound and 250-pound bombs, napalm units, cluster bomb units, flares, rockets, smoke grenades, and propaganda leaflet dispensers. Various combinations of machine guns and ordnance were tested and proved feasible. A Garrett turboprop engine delivering 650 horsepower propelled the aircraft and it had a reversible propeller. Maximum speed was 148 knots at take-off power, range was more than 400 nautical miles, and endurance was almost five hours. With portable oxygen for the crew, it could go to high altitude. With its engine shut down, it could glide silently for long distances and was an excellent reconnaissance platform. It could carry at least six passengers or an equivalent number of troops with field gear. Medical evacuation capabilities were one litter patient, three ambulatory patients, and one medical attendant.8

    The reversible prop and relatively high power gave it the short landing capability. Immediately on touching the ground, or even a bit before, the prop could be reversed and the aircraft would come to a halt on the width of a normal runway. With the exceptional amount of power available, it could take off in short distances, again the width of a runway. Most appropriate for the brown-water Navy, the plane was a jewel on floats. The reversible prop provided what all floatplanes need: the ability to "back up." One could park the aircraft alongside a pier or small boat more easily than parallel parking a car in a crowded metropolis. Further, the procurement cost was relatively minor—less than $150,000 for a combat-ready airplane.

    The Central Intelligence Agency already had procured some of the aircraft and was operating them in Vietnam as "Air America," with major support capabilities in Taiwan. This in-country operation could provide a major support capability if needed.

    In the mid-1960s the U.S. Air Force became interested in the Porter. Two of the birds were configured with bomb stations and automatic weapons. Tests indicated that for certain missions, the plane could be a winner. Several Navy officials reasoned that, as an interim emergency measure, it could add much to the brown-water Navy. Its speed, endurance, payload, and ability to take damage compared to the helo made it a natural for air support of the PBR task force. On floats, it could remain with the boats at all times. They did not have to be based at some shore facility several miles away, but could remain physically with the boats serving as an integral part of the fire fighting team. When missions were conducted, the birds could take off with the PBRs and remain with them from start to finish of a mission, providing reconnaissance and fire support as needed. It could be close air support at its ultimate best—control in the hands of the customer, with instant and constant availability.

    As one experienced helo pilot and Navy Cross awardee in HAL-3 commented: "I would have given my eye-teeth to have had a fixed wing float/land capable machine to cover brown-water operations. To have had the Pilatus Porter would have reduced maintenance man-hours over rotary-wing aircraft, permitted more time on patrol/station and with the payload capability, we could have blown the socks off any enemy. And we haven't even touched on beans/bullets/mail/ and passenger movements that would have boosted morale greatly throughout the TF-116 operations theater."9

    So the Navy moved out smartly. Several leaders tested the aircraft, on both wheels and floats. Then-Lieutenant Colonel Robert Purcell, a combat-experienced Marine officer, was assigned as program coordinator. Purcell had been an enlisted Marine with infantry combat experience in the Korean War before he ever entered flight training with the rank of captain. His qualifications for his assignment are reflected in his combat awards, which include 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Silver Star, a Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, 28 Air Medals, and unit commendations. He was not particularly happy with being assigned to the Pentagon, duty often viewed as drudgery—a necessary experience for career advancement but not much fun. It was the fall of 1967 and he took action to clear all the procurement wickets in the Department of Defense, with a deployment date set for the spring of 1968. Initial support for the idea was almost unbelievably positive.

    Next came the congressional wicket, with the need to gain authority for funding and procurement on a sole source basis, which meant no competition and no delays. The aircraft was in production, and several were available "off the shelf" on the parking ramp at Fairchild Aircraft north of Baltimore, Maryland. All that was needed was the modification to incorporate the armament features, and the bird would be on its way to a combat role. Deployment could be started in about 100 days from the word "go." The initial program, approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and with Congressional support, was for procurement of 19 aircraft at a cost of $3 million. Support funds would come from the regular operating budget allocation.

    Recognizing the urgent need and the wisdom of the proposal, congressional staffs were supportive of the sole source authority, a major milestone for prompt action. Everyone seemed to recognize the need and the value of the Porter in answering the call for close air support of the brown-water Navy, at least as an interim measure.

    The Navy identified the commanding officer of the first unit, modifying his career pattern to take on this new challenge, something about which he became very excited. Then-Commander Jack French was an outstanding officer, commanding a propeller attack squadron. He knew about props, bombs, close air support, and staying on station. He was beginning to finger some pilots to join in the fun. "We got the word of the Pilatus Porter, and there were 13 airframes in Hagerstown, Maryland. We . . . were to proceed with six of my pilots and transition accordingly—out of the parking lot. Very exciting."10 It looked like a winner.

    This was not a major expensive procurement of a high-tech, exotic fighter or bomber. It was a program that had so many obvious benefits, all involved felt good, especially since the cost was relatively minor. It was a great way to get "more bang for the buck." And then, the bubble burst. Suddenly, the program was dead.

    The Navy/Marine Corps officers involved in implementing the acquisition program found that all support in the Office of the Secretary of Defense had evaporated. The non-competitive program came to a screeching halt under orders from Secretary McNamara, the highest civil authority in the Pentagon. Subsequent research of the files revealed that he had received to pressure from a former associate, Lynn Bollinger, who headed the Helio Aircraft Corporation, which produced a light liaison aircraft for the Air Force. Bollinger wrote a simple "Dear Bob" letter to McNamara protesting the non-competitive aspects, contending that he had a plane under development that could do the job, and wanted support.11 As for his development aircraft, Lieutenant Colonel Purcell went to the trouble of flying the Helio aircraft and found it completely unacceptable, a "dog" in the vernacular of combat pilots. When contacted, the former Secretary said that he did not recall the incident although he did vaguely remember meeting someone named Bollinger at Harvard in the early 1940s. He expressed doubt that such a small program would have risen to his level for a decision unless it involved some widening of the war. This one did not.

    Bollinger's actions also involved traditional lobbying with Congress, and he was effective, convincing at least one congressman to question the non-competitive procurement action officially. Bollinger kept Secretary McNamara informed of his actions by phone.12 Obviously, he reasoned that if the Navy procured the Pilatus Porter, even as an interim emergency measure, his own aircraft program would be in jeopardy for future orders. This probably was correct. He took advantage of his personal association with the Secretary of Defense to try to kill the competition, and he was successful. The official demise came in a memo to the Secretary of the Navy from the Secretary of Defense on 20 December 1967, when the sole source procurement action was terminated.13

    The Joint Chiefs of Staff continued to support the program and tried to keep it alive with a recommendation to the Secretary of Defense in early February 1968 that he "approve sole-source procurement to permit the fastest possible deployment of the OV-12A to SVN [South Vietnam] for support of Game Warden" (the brown-water Navy).14 But sole source was denied again, and the program was dead.

    Understandably, Lieutenant Colonel Purcell was perturbed. The cancellation action contributed to his early voluntary retirement from active duty, in spite of the fact that he was about to be selected for promotion to the rank of colonel. Captain Jack French, the prospective commanding officer of the planned squadron, missed out on an assignment that would have kept his career moving forward, as he eagerly anticipated command of this special unit that many believed would have made major contributions to this new kind of naval warfare. Ironically, following retirement, he spent quite a bit of time flying floatplanes in the Alaskan theater. But those were minor considerations. The real issue was the loss of a significant war-fighting capability for the PBR task force when it was desperately needed. The entire brown-water Navy lost more than 2,500 men during the Vietnam campaign. How many lives might have been saved with the implementation of this program action? To quote one leader of the brown-water Navy who commanded a Task Group in the latter phases of the war, "To think of how many of these young warriors could have been spared if we would have had fixed wing assets two years earlier just blows my mind!"15

    The late Admiral Thomas Moorer was the Chief of Naval Operations at the time. A hallmark of his career was his intense concern about "his crew." He preached that with authority comes responsibility and the first responsibility of one with authority is to "take care of your crew." He knew about the Pilatus Porter program and when it was cancelled, he sent for Lieutenant Colonel Purcell, asking for a detailed debrief of the case. Then he asked for a written report, to be delivered directly to him, not through any chain of command. The report was delivered as ordered. On 21 March 1968, Admiral Moorer sent a memorandum to Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze, appealing the case and recommending procurement of the OV-12A.16 Admiral Moorer was the highest military authority in the Navy, destined to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and yet he could not reverse the combined action of the civil authority in the executive and legislative branches of the government for an interim emergency procurement requiring an outlay of $3 million. It is a sad chapter in the civil/military authority history of our armed services, particularly when compared to the authority vested in Admiral Ernest King during World War II.

    Facing the denial for sole-source procurement, the Navy struggled on with its existing helo assets. Eventually, a larger fixed-wing close-support aircraft, the OV-10 Bronco, arrived on the scene, but long after the Pilatus Porter opportunity had been negated.

    In spring 1972, almost five years after the emergency had come and gone, the Air Force completed a competitive evaluation of the Porter, then termed the Fairchild AU-23A "Peacemaker" and the Helio Aircraft's AU-24A "Stallion." Both aircraft were rejected because they did not meet the needs of the Air Force, which were certainly different from those of the brown-water Navy. Eventually, the few military Peacemakers acquired for test and evaluation went to Thailand under the Military Assistant Program, for use in border surveillance and counter infiltration roles. The Stallions went to Cambodia for a similar mission.17 The Porter remains in production, with many in service around the world performing a multitude of missions.18

    There are still naval persons alive who will never forgive the civil authority for the cancellation of this program. It did not improve the relations between some naval aviation leaders and the civil authority in the Pentagon. But even so, those leaders would undoubtedly fight to preserve the traditional civil authority concept. After all, not all members of the civil authority in the Pentagon and the Congress have turned their backs on military judgment, especially in time of war.


    New crystal produced with gunpowder is stronger than diamond

    Scientists created the mineral lonsdaleite in a lab and tested its strength using sound waves — before it was obliterated.

    This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

    Diamonds may be a girl's best friend because of their shine and glam, but they are also helpful in practical ways. The superstrong mineral is used as an industrial abrasive, on the edges of cutting tools, or on ultra-powerful drill bits.

    Whether they are used for adornment or tools, diamonds aren't cheap. Scientists have long hoped to find a way to create a material that is as strong as diamonds. Now they may have something better.

    It is believed that lonsdaleite, also called hexagonal diamond, is even stronger than diamond. But the rare six-sided crystalline mineral has seldom been found in nature — generally only at meteorite impact sites — and only in sample sizes that are too small to be measured.

    Its exact hardness remained unknown — until now.


    By Jon Hoppe

    A TURDSID with most of its plastic camouflage covering and battery pack removed, showing the electronics package and copper shielding. (courtesy of Jonathan L. Hoppe)

    Electronic warfare and surveillance are increasingly becoming topics of discussion. The nature of that type of warfare (and indeed combat itself) calls for a certain amount of creativity. To see but not be recognized or seen oneself begs for innovation and novel solutions to life-threatening problems. But even the most brilliant plans can be rendered moot if one builds an idea on a false assumption.

    Such is the nature of the ingenious yet flawed TURDSID.

    The short-lived TURDSID and other systems were developed in response to the critical but elusive nature of targets along the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War. The difficulty prompted U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) officials to explore the application of new technology to the interdiction problem.

    The systems they would explore and implement, the TURDSID among them, emerged from an earlier DoD effort to create an electronic anti-infiltration system across the width of the demilitarized zone in South Vietnam and into Laos. The effort became known as Operation Igloo White. The purpose of the operation was to interdict the infiltration of supplies and personnel occurring in Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Igloo White was designed to accomplish electronically what had been previously planned for with the McNamara Line.

    While the barriers of the McNamara Line would have required physical construction and troops on the ground, Igloo White had its own air force and depended on thousands of sensors on the ground. The operation lasted from late 1969 to the end of 1972 and was considered one of the most secretive, expensive, and successful operations of the Vietnam War. The method of the operation was to air deliver sensors from high-speed, specially modified Navy OP-2E Neptune antisubmarine aircraft traveling as fast as 600 mph. Missions were conducted first by the joint Navy/CIA Operation Muddy Hill, and later by elements of Squadron VO-67, nicknamed the “Ghost Squadron” for its clandestine activities, and more ironically for their participation in a secret war that neither the U.S. nor the North Vietnamese wanted to acknowledge was being waged next door to Vietnam.

    A parked OP-2E Neptune patrol aircraft of Squadron VO-67 somewhere in Vietnam. A Practice Multiple Bomb Rack (PMBR) is indicated under the port wing. Date unknown. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

    The sensors were dropped in strings along trails, roads, and suspected routes of enemy infiltration. A string was the word used to describe the sequential emplacement by air of sensors in a line. As a vehicle or group of soldiers would pass by the sensors, they would sequentially report “hits,” which would show the location and rate of movement of the enemy as well as differentiate between vehicles and personnel. The data would then be transmitted to EC-121R aircraft, and, later in the life of the program, to unmanned QU-22B Pave Eagle planes continuously circling overhead. These aircraft, in turn, relayed the data to the Infiltration Surveillance Center (ISC) at the U.S. Air Force Base at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, at that time the largest single structure in that country.

    Inside the 200,000-square-foot ISC building, IBM 360-65 computers—at the time, the world’s most powerful—recorded, stored, and processed the information received from the sensors. Intelligence analysts searched for patterns in the processed data, and sought to determine the speed, location, and direction in which the trucks or enemy personnel were moving. Once this was achieved, FACs in Laos conveyed the target information they received to attack aircraft pilots. According to one estimate, the time between target acquisition and the delivery of ordnance was on average a mere five minutes, and in some cases, as short as two minutes.

    The critical sensors at the heart of the operation had to remain unseen and camouflaged in order for the advanced network to function.

    It is a small, battery-operated Seismic Intrusion Device (SID) consisting of a seismic detector (vibration sensor), a transmitter, an internal antenna, and a battery pack, all fit into a small rubber case disguised to look like the excrement of a dog. Because of their small size, battery life was no more than a few days. Its function was to cue a larger sensor nearby.

    The outer casing was a specially-designed plastic polymer designed to disguise the sensor as dog droppings. It takes no large amount of imagination to figure out how the “TURD” prefix originated. The sensors worked as designed, and the device quite effective, but with one major flaw: There were no dogs running wild along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

    On learning this critical, overlooked, information, the sensor was hastily redesigned (at great expense) to look like a piece of wood.


    The McNamara Line - History

    Perhaps it&rsquos a hyperbole to say that they saved and then almost destroyed the US. But the Kids&rsquo approach would ultimately cause the drop in quality and innovativeness of American cars, opening the door to the Japanese invasion from which the Big 3 have yet to recover. The Whiz Kids&rsquo doctrine is also arguably responsible for America&rsquos continued involvement in the Vietnam War after 1965 which led to the vast majority of the war&rsquos 58,209 US casualties and the millions of Vietnamese military and civilian deaths. They had many of the right ideas. They brought analytical discipline to the military and American business that desperately needed it, but they inadvertantly swung the pendulum too far.

    The Whiz Kids

    On one side of the Atlantic in 1939, Robert McNamara was celebrating his Harvard MBA graduation by backpacking around Europe when Hitler invaded Poland. He stopped at a train station in Berlin and asked for a ticket to Italy. “Don&rsquot you know there&rsquos a war on?” he was asked. He didn&rsquot. He would later joke that a future Secretary of Defense was in the middle of the enemy&rsquos capitol at the start of the greatest war of the 20th century without even knowing it! 1a

    Meanwhile on the other side of the ocean, Charles “Tex” Thornton was a lowly 26-year old statistician in one of FDR&rsquos New Deal agencies taking undergraduate classes at night to earn his bachelor&rsquos degree in business. One of his studies on low-cost housing was circulated among government departments as a model of succinct analysis and having seen it, Robert Lovett, the Assistant Secretary of War, asked a mutual friend to introduce them. Lovett and Tex shared a desire to bring facts and statistical rigor to the disorganized military and Tex impressed Lovett with his confidence and ambition. “I liked the way he showed no awe of authority. ” Lovett said. Tex didn&rsquot invent statistical methods and the Air Force and its personnel were already aware of the need for them they just hadn&rsquot found a way to institutionalize better accountability in decision making. Lovett was also very capable of organizing large numbers of troops he just wasn&rsquot prepared for the tremendous growth and change that the military was experiencing at the start of World War II. 2

    With Lovett (also a future Secretary of Defense) as a mentor, Tex became head of Statistical Control, a small group that he revolutionized. He recruited a dozen junior faculty from the then-struggling Harvard Business School, including Robert McNamara, who had returned to Harvard as an accounting professor. They were all enamored with Tex&rsquos promise to teach new lieutenants how to run the Air Force. Unbeknownst to them, there were no classrooms or even students and much of what Tex promised was still a dream in his head. But his salesmanship and the professors&rsquo low draft numbers were enough to bring them to Washington for the duration of the war. Tex would soon make arrangements allowing him to pull selected officers from the top 10% of their class, offering them unique positions of power and a first class education. 3

    Before Tex took over Stat Control, numbers were guessed at and assumptions were rarely questioned in the Air Force. No one even knew how many personnel were serving. Stat Control sent men out to count the number of planes in each hangar and the number of spare parts available at each airfield. The number of bombs that could be delivered to a target per gallon of fuel per plane type were calculated and contrasted. Knowledge is power and Tex&rsquos team quickly earned the power: they were able to enforce high-level decisions based on facts and analyses that no one else had.

    Stat Control saved the US billions of dollars in bombs, ammunition, supplies, and fuel. By creating an inventory of spare parts at each base, they could easily match the demand for spare parts with the nearest supply, saving $3.6 billion in 1943 alone. Tex&rsquos team also likely helped bring a close to World War II faster and with less Allied lives lost, as many military leaders attested to. In one major success at the end of the war, they proved that the newer B-29 bombers could drop as many bombs over Japan in a quarter of the flying hours than the B-17s and B-24s that were being deployed from Europe. The Air Force listened and adjusted its bomber deployments. 4

    After the war ended in 1945, the ten Air Force officers who ran Stat Control sold themselves as a group to Henry Ford II. They met with Henry and promised to bring statistical rigor to Ford using the techniques they had developed. They had a huge impact at Ford in the 1950s and 1960s, creating a dynasty and legacy that has influenced almost every American corporation and MBA student ever since.

    At the time they joined Ford, it was in an awkward transition following Henry Ford&rsquos death. The young Henry Ford II was actively looking for a way to make his mark on the company that had become overrun with his grandfather&rsquos “strong men” with no defined responsibilities who ran the place by sheer force of intimidation. Ford lost $60 million in the first eight months of 1946 and they didn&rsquot have the financial or accounting structures in place to even know it. 5

    In many ways, Tex&rsquos group were among the first management consultants. They made decisions based on facts instead of intuition (as they didn&rsquot have any intuition or industry knowledge). They didn&rsquot really care about the product that Ford was making to them, Ford was a collection of statistics. They could just as easily have been working for a firm that manufactured soap or televisions. Additionally, the original agreement among the ten of them was that no one would leave the group for at least the first one and a half to two years to allow the group to become maximally productive. The average MBA who goes to work for a management consultant firm today stays for that exact amount of time. 6

    Tex was networker. His skill set was in building relationships with other people and convincing them to follow his lead. Intelligence test results from the group&rsquos early days at Ford also show that, while all ten of the Whiz Kids scored exceptionally well, Tex scored last among the group. Bob McNamara scored in the top 100 th percentile. Almost all of them were off the charts relative to most of Ford&rsquos employees. 7

    Until the Whiz Kids, the only financial statement available at Ford was their cash statement which was provided by their bank. The Kids delivered the first cash forecast, production schedules, capital budgets, and organization chart. When he was managing a small company, founder Henry Ford despised organization charts, but as Ford grew they became a necessity. 8

    The Kids pushed Ford too far in the direction of management-by-numbers. If an investment couldn&rsquot be proven to add immediate profits to the bottom line, it was voted against. Unfortunately, sophisticated models for quantifying customer loyalty and the value of new equipment and quality were not available to them. McNamara tried to quantify quality for a short time, but gave up when the factory workers easily found ways to rig the system. 8a So Ford cars would leave the lot and break down quickly. The paint jobs were low quality because the painting equipment hadn&rsquot been replaced in years. The Whiz Kids didn&rsquot look far enough ahead with their cost-cutting calculations: would they lose customers and their engineering innovation edge in the long run?

    Tex Thornton

    After only a couple of years, Henry Ford II fired Tex after Tex&rsquos clashes with his boss Lewis Crusoe, a lifelong auto-man who occupied a top executive position at Ford. Tex went to work for Howard Hughes in 1948 where he immediately saw potential in Hughes&rsquo small aircraft division. The group invested heavily in research to build air-to-air missile technologies and grew rapidly as the Air Force placed hundreds of orders in the early days of the Cold War. The group went from being $1.9 million in the red in 1948 to recording profits of $12 million in 1952. 9 Tex was still bitter about being kicked out of Ford, quipping that Ford only made money in its early days when its only competitor was a horse. 10

    Tex resigned in 1953 and dazzled and then dismayed Wall Street as the head of Litton Industries in the 1960s and 1970s. Litton Industries started as a collection of small technology firms if the Whiz Kids had paved new ground by making a science out of business in the previous ten years, Tex was now paving new ground by making a business out of science.

    At Litton, he coined the term “synergy” while building one of the first conglomerates in American history, but he used the term too loosely. As Litton grew by acquisitions, there were very few synergies realized. 11 Litton was briefly a Wall Street darling, trading at 50 times earnings, primarily on the basis of shady accounting reports 12 and in their belief in Tex&rsquos promises of synergies and diversification. But as any current MBA student can tell you, synergies can be very elusive and are usually only realized when costs, such as an HR department, can be shared across two companies when each had their own previously. In exchange for synergies, you often receive a larger share of cultural and other problems Litton was not well-equipped to handle these problems in the long-term. And diversification within a single company is not valuable. Any given stockholder can buy whatever shares they want to diversify their own portfolio they don&rsquot need a conglomerate to do that for them.

    Tex died in 1981, shortly after receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Reagan. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1946 for his work in Stat Control and is buried at Arlington Cemetery.

    Jack Reith

    Whiz Kid Jack Reith was offered the presidency of Ford in France, which he accepted and proceeded to turn around the struggling company by spending time directly on the factory floor and financially incentivizing workers to meet production and quality targets. 13 He returned to Ford in the US a hero and headed the Mercury division where he designed one of the most over-stylized cars in Ford&rsquos history, the Turnpike Cruiser. It hit the market in late 1957 when a recession started. 14 McNamara&rsquos Ford division released the simple and cheap Ford Falcon which sold well the Turnpike Cruiser was a disaster. Jack could never recover from the failure and shot himself to death in bed on July 6, 1960, the morning of his son&rsquos birthday. 15

    All of the Whiz Kids attended his funeral. Bob McNamara worked during the ceremony. Years later he would ask an interviewer how Jack was doing, having completely forgotten that he&rsquod attended his friend&rsquos funeral. 16

    Robert McNamara

    Robert McNamara was the head of the Ford vehicle division and was one of the earliest proponents of safety in automobiles. Bob believed that Ford had a responsibility to its customers in 1955 that was years ahead of its time. Ralph Nader would not take up this battle until 1965. He put seatbelts in his cars and advertised safety features, which ostracized him from the Detroit community that didn&rsquot want to scare its customers. 17

    He was named President of Ford Motor Company in November 1960, just as JFK was elected. A few weeks later, he would leave the position to serve as the Secretary of Defense for JFK and later Lyndon Johnson.

    When he first met JFK to discuss the Secretary appointment, he asked the President-elect only one question: “Did you write Profiles in Courage?” The book had impressed McNamara. It adeptly dealt with the conflict between principles and expediency but Bob had heard rumors that it was ghost-written and wanted to make sure he was working for an honest man. JFK was surprised by the question but answered in the affirmative. 18

    As a side note, Jack did write the book. The idea for it came to him when, as an early term senator, he was stuck in bed recovering from an outbreak of one of his many health problems. He recalled Eleanor Roosevelt&rsquos quote about how polio had strengthened her husband&rsquos resolve and gave him courage and strength that he didn&rsquot have when he was healthy. Still, he relied on the research and drafts of a number of assistants, who he acknowledges debts to on the book&rsquos first page. Today, we might ascribe the title “editor” or “lead author” to his role. 18a

    What went wrong with Vietnam? McNamara has since stated that he knew by 1965 that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable militarily. 19 This was an impressive insight at such an early date the numbers and analyses had served him well. The problem was that he believed that by simply treading water in Vietnam - ie neither winning nor losing the war - we were preventing the fall of all of southeast Asia to communism. He believed that once the dominos started to fall in Asia, the Soviet Union could move their missiles and influence closer and closer to Europe and the US, thus risking a much larger nuclear war. However, as he realized twenty years later, Southeast Asia didn&rsquot want to fall to the communists. In Vietnam we were caught in a nationalistic civil war we were not defending the world against a larger war.

    McNamara never questioned the assumption of the domino theory. He never asked, “Do we know that Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, and even Australia would fall to the communists if Vietnam does?” He likely didn&rsquot rigorously question the assumption because it could not be answered quantitatively: to answer it meant to understand and empathize with the leaders and people of that area of the world. Had he insisted on answering it, the entire argument for our involvement in Vietnam after 1965 would have fallen apart.

    His focus on “kill ratios” (which was one American or Vietnamese soldier for every 2.6 Viet Cong or North Vietnamese killed) and “People flows” abstracted the war into simple numbers that defied the true story. 20

    In McNamara&rsquos defense, the 1960s was a very complex and precarious time. He claims that very few people appreciate how close we came to nuclear war with the Soviet Union, especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The wonderful documentary Fog of War captures his thoughts, memories, and lessons learned from his time at Ford and during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Further, it is not the Secretary of Defense&rsquos role to determine who we are at war with and when to withdraw or deploy troops it is the Commander-in-Chief&rsquos. McNamara states that he believes, had Kennedy lived, JFK would have pulled our troops from Vietnam and accepted whatever losses were then incurred because the cost of the war was too great and the plausible outcomes of our involvement versus withdrawal would likely have been similar. Lyndon Baines Johnson, on the other hand, with his eye on being elected [for the first time] for a second term in 1964, wanted least of all to be the first American president to give up on, or lose, a war. At the time, the Joint Chiefs acquiesed to political pressure, though luckily there is evidence that they would be less likely to do so today. 21

    President Lyndon Johnson fired McNamara in 1968, offering him the Presidency of the World Bank. McNamara never spoke out against the Vietnam War until the late 1980s when he admitted to be wrong in his assumptions he has been heavily criticized for not publicly denouncing the war earlier when it may have helped to bring an earlier end to it.

    The others

    Arjay Miller became President of Ford and then the dean of Stanford&rsquos Business School. J. Edward Lundy recruited and trained thousands of MBAs as Ford&rsquos CFO from 1967 to 1979. Lundy&rsquos relentless perfectionism in presentations foreshadowed today&rsquos polished PowerPoints. One young man once put a slide in to the presentation projector upside down and it largely ended his career at Ford. 21a

    What was wrong with their methodology? What are the lessons learned?

    The Whiz Kids were more right than wrong in hindsight, at least by our current standards of analysis and management. And since they were largely inventing their methodology as they went along, the value of their contributions far outweigh the price of their faults. But they made three fundamental errors which future generations of analytically-minded managers should heed:

      We should be aware of our limits to quantify certain key drivers, such as product quality, customer loyalty, the value of investments in R&D and innovation, and what our competitors or enemies are thinking.

    Just because we can&rsquot quantify some of these elements doesn&rsquot make them any less important. In his memoirs, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (which the film Fog of War was based on), McNamara&rsquos first lesson is to empathize with your enemy. 22 Ho Chi Minh was primarily trying to reunite his country and expel foreigners he was not, as was believed at the time, a Marx-like champion of communism with ambitions to propagate it throughout the world.

    Additionally, it was Tommy Thompson&rsquos intimate knowledge of Khrushchev from years working with him at the Kremlin that provided the context for JFK to interpret his messages during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Had it not been for Thompson&rsquos ability to empathize with Khrushchev and convince JFK that he did not want war but simply needed an “out”, we might have escalated the crisis inadvertantly. 23

    McNamara&rsquos focus on kill ratios during Vietnam is an obvious violation of this rule. While those values had some meaning, they did not offer sufficient insight into the overall issue at hand: how to protect South Vietnam from the North with the least American and South Vietnamese casualties. Kill ratios, for example, overlook the availability of one side to replenish its lost forces (which was much higher for the North Vietnamese than it was for the US despite the countries' total population difference). They also overlook the magnitude of the causualties on both sides. And finally, they don&rsquot offer any insight into ways to win over the enemy by methods other than raw guerilla combat.

    The Whiz Kids were hesitant to invest in new equipment needed to improve the quality of Ford&rsquos cars because they calculated that doing so would have no positive impact on the next years&rsquo sales. But consistent investment in equipment, research, and knowledge is often needed to keep a company innovative and in a quality-leadership position. The returns on such investments may not be realized for many years, but forecasts have to account for the long-term positive effects on such investments.

    1 Lay, Beirne. Someone Has to Make It Happen. 1969. Page 198.
    1a Byrne, John A. The Whiz Kids. 2003. Page 48.
    2 Byrne. Pages 29-34. Also: Lay. Pages 51-57.
    3 Byrne. Page 42.
    4 Byrne. Pages 51 and 57. Also: Lay. Page 50.
    5 Byrne. Page 127.
    6 Ibid. Page 95.
    7 Ibid. Pages 96-98.
    8 Ibid. Page 126.
    8a Halberstam, David. The Reckoning. 1986. Page 80.
    9 Byrne. Page 237.
    10 Ibid. Pages 155-163.
    11 Ibid. Pages 380-390.
    12 Ibid. Pages 486-487.
    13 Ibid. Page 200-205.
    14 Ibid. Pages 314-315.
    15 Ibid. Pages 347-358.
    16 Ibid. Page 356.
    17 Ibid. Page 259.
    18 Ibid. Page 371.
    18a Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963. 2003. pages 198-199.
    19 Byrne. Page 442.
    20 Ibid. Page 448-450.
    21 McNamara, Robert. Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. 1996. Page 96.
    Also: McMaster, H.R. Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam.
    21a Halberstam. Page 252.
    22 McNamara. Pages 321-322.
    23 McNamara. Page 322. Also: Morris, Errol (Director). The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. 2003.

    Your Comments

    As an alum of 30 years at Ford and a decade at GM, I am sure that the key flaw of whiz kid/MBA logic is failure to know and anticipate that "every yin has a yang" eg there will always be secondary consequences of any action, human or product/process. Short form: "S**t happens" technical version: always there are byproducts. Related scuttlebutt: McNamara was only apptd Pres. of FoMoCo to validate his credentials for Secy of Defense 6 weeks later. HFII detested McNamara's aloof manner, would have never had him as real Co. pres in place. Provenance avail if desired. My MBA was during Arjay reign at Stanford. My class included Susan Packard (now Orr) while her Dad was in Washington as the Dept. of Defense "do-er". Without him to actually make things happen McNamara's ethereal fraudulence would have been evident years & many lost lives earlier. Cheers.

    Hi. I had read about the whiz kids when I was studying for my MBA. Since then I have always wondered what it was like to be part of them. like a club I could only observe. but never be part of. This article revives memory's of that.

    Giulio Douhet begat Airpower theory. The experience of applying airpower theory in WWII begat Joseph Heller s "Catch 22." At the same time that "Catch 22" was being published, McNamara and the "whiz kids" were formulating theories of the application of Statistical Process Control (SPC) to warfare and more specifically the counter insurgency campaign in Vietnam. The USAAF strategic air campaign had begotten the "whiz kids" during WWII where the group was part of a management science operation within the USAAF known as Statistical Control, organized to coordinate all the operational and logistical information required to manage the waging of war. McNamara's and the "whiz kids" focus was on kill ratios (which was one American or Vietnamese soldier for every 2.6 Viet Cong or North Vietnamese killed) and People flows abstracted the war into simple numbers that could be fed into the statistical process model and also gave us the "body count." The "whiz kids" and the air war doctrine that emerged from Vietnam begat Effects Based Operations (EBO). EBO was the warfighting theory used by the USA entering into the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The theorists of EBO viewed the success of the First Gulf War and the political validation of the press as proof that the Millennium had arrived and the theories of Douhet, Trenchard, Mitchell, The "whiz kids" and those who walked in their footsteps were triumphant and air delivered bombs had become smarter than infantry soldiers. But what really hurts my head is that if the sequence number for the letter of the alphabet is used, "E" becomes 5, "B" becomes "2" and "O" becomes 15, so EBO = 22. I guess no one caught that EBO is equal to 22. So we entered the war in Iraq and Afghanistan caught on 22.

    While we may find all kinds of fault with the whiz kids, and there is plenty, it is evident that they knew more than Hnery Ford I did and they saved Ford from failure. There is no doubt that he could have done more. I was employed with Ford for 40 year and I lived through the reign of the whiz kids and I cannot forget how diverse they were in their talents and skills. Creating a cash mangement program and an accounting system earned my respect. Most employees thought Robert McNamara to be fish out of water and could see very little of his merit.


    Discovering the Missiles

    After seizing power in the Caribbean island nation of Cuba in 1959, leftist revolutionary leader Fidel Castro (1926-2016) aligned himself with the Soviet Union. Under Castro, Cuba grew dependent on the Soviets for military and economic aid. During this time, the U.S. and the Soviets (and their respective allies) were engaged in the Cold War (1945-91), an ongoing series of largely political and economic clashes.

    Did you know? The actor Kevin Costner (1955-) starred in a movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis titled "Thirteen Days." Released in 2000, the movie&aposs tagline was "You&aposll never believe how close we came."

    The two superpowers plunged into one of their biggest Cold War confrontations after the pilot of an American U-2 spy plane piloted by Major Richard Heyser making a high-altitude pass over Cuba on October 14, 1962, photographed a Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballistic missile being assembled for installation.

    President Kennedy was briefed about the situation on October 16, and he immediately called together a group of advisors and officials known as the executive committee, or ExComm. For nearly the next two weeks, the president and his team wrestled with a diplomatic crisis of epic proportions, as did their counterparts in the Soviet Union.


    Networking with McNamara Researchers

    As genealogy researchers, we are eternally grateful to come upon information shared by others that enlightens our research and we can reciprocate by paying it forward in responding to message board queries and sharing our own information that others in down the road or in future generations may benefit. The article "Looking for John Smith - Focusing a Query" provides some valuable tips for posting successful McNamara queries.

    You may also want to consider posting a query to the Community Message Boards at Genealogy Today to get assistance from other researchers on your most elusive McNamara ancestors.


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    Watch the video: McNamaras Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War (January 2022).