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|8th United States Secretary of Defense|
January 21, 1961 –February 29, 1968
|President|| John F. Kennedy |
Lyndon B. Johnson
|Deputy|| Roswell Gilpatric |
|Preceded by||Thomas Gates|
|Succeeded by||Clark Clifford|
|President of the World Bank Group|
April 1, 1968 –July 1, 1981
|Preceded by||George Woods|
|Succeeded by||Tom Clausen|
Robert Strange McNamara
June 9, 1916
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||July 6, 2009 93) (aged|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Political party|| Republican (until 1978) |
(m. 1940;died 1981)
Diana Masieri Byfield(m. 2004)
|Children||3 (including Craig)|
|Education|| University of California, Berkeley (BA)|
Harvard University (MBA)
|Years of service||1940–1946|
Robert Strange McNamara (June 9, 1916 – July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and the eighth United States Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He played a major role in escalating the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War.McNamara was responsible for the institution of systems analysis in public policy, which developed into the discipline known today as policy analysis.
The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) is the leader and chief executive officer of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the Armed Forces of the U.S. The Secretary of Defense's position of command and authority over the U.S. military is second only to that of the President and Congress, respectively. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in many other countries. The Secretary of Defense is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and is by custom a member of the Cabinet and by law a member of the National Security Council.
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.
Lyndon Baines Johnson, often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. Formerly the 37th vice president of the United States from 1961 to 1963, he assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson also served as a United States Representative and as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people who have served in all four federal elected positions.
He was born in San Francisco, California, graduated from UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School and served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. After the war, Henry Ford II hired McNamara and a group of other Army Air Force veterans to work for Ford Motor Company. These "Whiz Kids" helped reform Ford with modern planning, organization, and management control systems. After briefly serving as Ford's president, McNamara accepted appointment as Secretary of Defense.
The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.
Harvard Business School (HBS) is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. The school offers a large full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, HBS Online and many executive education programs. It owns Harvard Business Publishing, which publishes business books, leadership articles, online management tools for corporate learning, case studies and the monthly Harvard Business Review. It is home to the Baker Library/Bloomberg Center.
The United States Army Air Forces, informally known as the Air Force, was the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945), successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force of today, one of the five uniformed military services. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which on 2 March 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply, and the Army Air Forces. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.
McNamara became a close adviser to Kennedy and advocated the use of a blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy and McNamara instituted a Cold War defense strategy of flexible response, which anticipated the need for military responses short of massive retaliation. McNamara consolidated intelligence and logistics functions of the Pentagon into two centralized agencies: the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Supply Agency. During the Kennedy administration, McNamara presided over a build-up of US soldiers in South Vietnam. After the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, the number of US soldiers in Vietnam escalated dramatically. McNamara and other US policymakers feared that the fall of South Vietnam to a Communist regime would lead to the fall of other governments in the region. In October 1966, he launched Project 100,000, the lowering of army IQ standards which allowed 354,000 additional men to be recruited, despite criticism that they were not suited to working in high stress or dangerous environments.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962, the Caribbean Crisis, or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by the American discovery of Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.
The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins between 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and the Truman Doctrine of 1947, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989, which ended communism in Eastern Europe as well as in other areas, and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, when nations of the Soviet Union abolished communism and restored their independence. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.
Flexible response was a defense strategy implemented by John F. Kennedy in 1961 to address the Kennedy administration's skepticism of Dwight Eisenhower's New Look and its policy of massive retaliation. Flexible response calls for mutual deterrence at strategic, tactical, and conventional levels, giving the United States the capability to respond to aggression across the spectrum of war, not limited only to nuclear arms.
McNamara grew increasingly skeptical of the efficacy of committing US soldiers to Vietnam. In 1968, he resigned as Secretary of Defense to become President of the World Bank. He remains the longest serving Secretary of Defense, having remained in office over seven years. He served as President of the World Bank until 1981, shifting the focus of the World Bank towards poverty reduction. After retiring, he served as a trustee of several organizations, including the California Institute of Technology and the Brookings Institution. In his later writings and interviews, he expressed regret for the decisions he made during the Vietnam War.
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides interest-free loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group.
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private doctorate-granting research university in Pasadena, California. Known for its strength in natural science and engineering, Caltech is often ranked as one of the world's top-ten universities.
The Brookings Institution is an American research group founded in 1916 on Think Tank Row in Washington, D.C. It conducts research and education in the social sciences, primarily in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and global economy and development. Its stated mission is to "provide innovative and practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: strengthen American democracy; foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; and secure a more open, safe, prosperous, and cooperative international system."
Robert McNamara was born in San Francisco, California.His father was Robert James McNamara, sales manager of a wholesale shoe company, and his mother was Clara Nell (Strange) McNamara. His father's family was Irish and, in about 1850, following the Great Irish Famine, had emigrated to the U.S., first to Massachusetts and later to California. He graduated from Piedmont High School in Piedmont in 1933, where he was president of the Rigma Lions boys club and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. McNamara attended the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1937 with a B.A. in economics with minors in mathematics and philosophy. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa his sophomore year, and earned a varsity letter in crew. McNamara before commissioning into the Army Air Force, was a Cadet in the Golden Bear Battalion at U.C. Berkeley McNamara was also a member of the UC Berkeley's Order of the Golden Bear which was a fellowship of students and leading faculty members formed to promote leadership within the student body. He then attended Harvard Business School, where he earned an M.B.A. in 1939.
San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 883,305 residents as of 2018. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.
The Great Famine, or the Great Hunger, was a period in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 of mass starvation, disease, and emigration. With the most severely affected areas in the west and south of Ireland, where the Irish language was primarily spoken, the period was contemporaneously known in Irish as An Drochshaol, loosely translated as the "hard times". The worst year of the period, that of "Black 47", is known in Irish as Bliain an Drochshaoil. During the famine, about one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%.
Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.
Immediately thereafter, McNamara worked a year for the accounting firm Price Waterhouse in San Francisco. He returned to Harvard in August 1940 to teach accounting in the Business School and became the institution's highest paid and youngest assistant professor at that time.Following his involvement there in a program to teach analytical approaches used in business to officers of the United States Army Air Forces, he entered the USAAF as a captain in early 1943, serving most of World War II with its Office of Statistical Control. One of his major responsibilities was the analysis of U.S. bombers' efficiency and effectiveness, especially the B-29 forces commanded by Major General Curtis LeMay in India, China, and the Mariana Islands. McNamara established a statistical control unit for the XX Bomber Command and devised schedules for B-29s doubling as transports for carrying fuel and cargo over The Hump. He left active duty in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and with a Legion of Merit.
Accounting or accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non financial information about economic entities such as businesses and corporations. The modern field was established by the Benedikt Kotruljevic in 1458, merchant, economist, scientist, diplomat and humanist from Dubrovnik (Croatia), and Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1494. Accounting, which has been called the "language of business", measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users, including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms "accounting" and "financial reporting" are often used as synonyms.
PricewaterhouseCoopers is a multinational professional services network with headquarters in London, United Kingdom. PwC ranks as the second largest professional services firm in the world and is one of the Big Four auditors, along with Deloitte, EY and KPMG.
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities.
In 1946, Tex Thornton, a colonel under whom McNamara had served, put together a group of former officers from the Office of Statistical Control to go into business together. Thornton had seen an article in Life magazine portraying Ford as being in dire need of reform. Henry Ford II, himself a World War II veteran from the Navy, hired the entire group of 10, including McNamara.
The "Whiz Kids", as they came to be known, helped the money-losing company reform its chaotic administration through modern planning, organization, and management control systems. The origins of the phrase "The Whiz Kids" can be explained as follows. Because of their youth, combined with asking lots of questions, Ford employees initially and disparagingly, referred to them as the "Quiz Kids". The Quiz Kids rebranded themselves as the "Whiz Kids".
Starting as manager of planning and financial analysis, McNamara advanced rapidly through a series of top-level management positions. He was a force behind the Ford Falcon sedan, introduced in the fall of 1959—a small, simple and inexpensive-to-produce counter to the large, expensive vehicles prominent in the late 1950s. McNamara placed a high emphasis on safety: the Lifeguard options package introduced the seat belt (a novelty at the time) and a dished steering wheel, which helped to prevent the driver from being impaled on the steering column.
After the Lincoln line's very large 1958, 1959, and 1960 models proved unpopular, McNamara pushed for smaller versions, such as the 1961 Lincoln Continental.
On November 9, 1960, McNamara became the first president of Ford Motor Company from outside the Ford family.
After his election in 1960, President-elect John F. Kennedy first offered the post of Secretary of Defense to Robert A. Lovett, who had already served in that position in the Truman administration; Lovett declined but recommended McNamara. Kennedy had read about McNamara and his career in a Time magazine article on December 2, 1960, and interviewed him six days later on December 8, with his brother and right-hand man Robert F. Kennedy also being present.McNamara told Kennedy that he didn't know anything about government, to which Kennedy replied: "We can learn our jobs together. I don't know how to be president either". McNamara had read Kennedy's book Profiles in Courage and asked him if he had really written it himself, with Kennedy insisting that he did. Kennedy offered McNamara the chance to be either Secretary of Defense or Secretary of the Treasury; McNamara came back a week later, accepting the post of Secretary of Defense on the condition of having the right of final approval in all appointments to the Department of Defense, with Kennedy replying: "It's a deal".
According to Special Counsel Ted Sorensen, Kennedy regarded McNamara as the "star of his team, calling upon him for advice on a wide range of issues beyond national security, including business and economic matters."McNamara became one of the few members of the Kennedy Administration to work and socialize with Kennedy, and he became so close to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy that he served as a pallbearer at the younger Kennedy's funeral in 1968.
Initially, the basic policies outlined by President Kennedy in a message to Congress on March 28, 1961, guided McNamara in the reorientation of the defense program. Kennedy rejected the concept of first-strike attack and emphasized the need for adequate strategic arms and defense to deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies. U.S. arms, he maintained, must constantly be under civilian command and control, and the nation's defense posture had to be "designed to reduce the danger of irrational or unpremeditated general war." The primary mission of U.S. overseas forces, in cooperation with allies, was "to prevent the steady erosion of the Free World through limited wars". Kennedy and McNamara rejected massive retaliation for a posture of flexible response. The U.S. wanted choices in an emergency other than "inglorious retreat or unlimited retaliation", as the president put it. Out of a major review of the military challenges confronting the U.S. initiated by McNamara in 1961 came a decision to increase the nation's "limited warfare" capabilities. These moves were significant because McNamara was abandoning President Dwight D. Eisenhower's policy of massive retaliation in favor of a flexible response strategy that relied on increased U.S. capacity to conduct limited, non-nuclear warfare.
The Kennedy administration placed particular emphasis on improving ability to counter communist "wars of national liberation", in which the enemy avoided head-on military confrontation and resorted to political subversion and guerrilla tactics. As McNamara said in his 1962 annual report, "The military tactics are those of the sniper, the ambush, and the raid. The political tactics are terror, extortion, and assassination." In practical terms, this meant training and equipping U.S. military personnel, as well as such allies as South Vietnam, for counterinsurgency operations.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, McNamara served as a member of EXCOMM and played a large role in the Administration's handling and eventual defusing of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was a strong proponent of the blockade option over a missile strike and helped persuade the Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree with the blockade option.
Increased attention to conventional strength complemented these special forces preparations. In this instance he called up reserves and also proceeded to expand the regular armed forces. Whereas active duty strength had declined from approximately 3,555,000 to 2,483,000 between 1953 (the end of the Korean War) and 1961, it increased to nearly 2,808,000 by June 30, 1962. Then the forces leveled off at around 2,700,000 until the Vietnam military buildup began in 1965, reaching a peak of nearly 3,550,000 by mid-1968, just after McNamara left office.
When McNamara took over the Pentagon in 1961, the United States military relied on an all-out nuclear strike to respond to a Soviet attack of any kind. This kind of strike would lead to the death of Soviet military forces and also civilians. This was the same nuclear strategy planned by the Strategic Air Command (SAC), led by General Curtis LeMay. McNamara did not agree with this kind of action. He sought other options after seeing that this strategy could not guarantee the destruction of all Soviet nuclear weapons, leaving the United States vulnerable to retaliation. McNamara's alternative in the doctrine of counterforce was to try to limit the United States nuclear exchange by targeting only enemy military forces.This concept would be used to prevent retaliation and escalation by holding Soviet cities hostage to a follow-up strike. McNamara later concluded that counterforce was not likely to control escalation but likely to provoke retaliation. The U.S. nuclear policy remained the same.
McNamara took other steps to increase U.S. deterrence posture and military capabilities. He raised the proportion of Strategic Air Command (SAC) strategic bombers on 15-minute ground alert from 25% to 50%, thus lessening their vulnerability to missile attack. In December 1961, he established the United States Strike Command (STRICOM). Authorized to draw forces when needed from the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC), the Tactical Air Command, and the airlift units of the Military Air Transport Service and the military services, Strike Command had the mission "to respond swiftly and with whatever force necessary to threats against the peace in any part of the world, reinforcing unified commands or... carrying out separate contingency operations." McNamara also increased long-range airlift and sealift capabilities and funds for space research and development. After reviewing the separate and often uncoordinated service efforts in intelligence and communications, McNamara in 1961 consolidated these functions in the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Communications Agency (the latter originally established by Secretary Gates in 1960), having both report to the Secretary of Defense through the JCS. The end effect was to remove the Intelligence function from the control of the military and to put it under the control of the Secretary of Defense. In the same year, he set up the Defense Supply Agency to work toward unified supply procurement, distribution, and inventory management under the control of the Secretary of Defense rather than the uniformed military.
McNamara's institution of systems analysis as a basis for making key decisions on force requirements, weapon systems, and other matters occasioned much debate. Two of its main practitioners during the McNamara era, Alain C. Enthoven and K. Wayne Smith, described the concept as follows: "First, the word 'systems' indicates that every decision should be considered in as broad a context as necessary... The word 'analysis' emphasizes the need to reduce a complex problem to its component parts for better understanding. Systems analysis takes a complex problem and sorts out the tangle of significant factors so that each can be studied by the method most appropriate to it." Enthoven and Smith said they used mainly civilians as systems analysts because they could apply independent points of view to force planning. McNamara's tendency to take military advice into less account than had previous secretaries and to override military opinions contributed to his unpopularity with service leaders. It was also generally thought that Systems Analysis, rather than being objective, was tailored by the civilians to support decisions that McNamara had already made. [ citation needed ]
The most notable example[ citation needed ] of systems analysis was the Planning, Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS) instituted by United States Department of Defense Comptroller Charles J. Hitch. McNamara directed Hitch to analyze defense requirements systematically and produce a long-term, program-oriented defense budget. PPBS evolved to become the heart of the McNamara management program. According to Enthoven and Smith, the basic ideas of PPBS were: "the attempt to put defense program issues into a broader context and to search for explicit measures of national need and adequacy"; "consideration of military needs and costs together"; "explicit consideration of alternatives at the top decision level"; "the active use of an analytical staff at the top policymaking levels"; "a plan combining both forces and costs which projected into the future the foreseeable implications of current decisions"; and "open and explicit analysis, that is, each analysis should be made available to all interested parties, so that they can examine the calculations, data, and assumptions and retrace the steps leading to the conclusions." In practice, the data produced by the analysis was so large and so complex that while it was available to all interested parties, none of them could challenge the conclusions.
Among the management tools developed to implement PPBS were the Five Year Defense Plan (FYDP), the Draft Presidential Memorandum (DPM), the Readiness, Information and Control Tables, and the Development Concept Paper (DCP). The annual FYDP was a series of tables projecting forces for eight years and costs and manpower for five years in mission-oriented, rather than individual service, programs. By 1968, the FYDP covered ten military areas: strategic forces, general purpose forces, intelligence and communications, airlift and sealift, guard and reserve forces, research and development, central supply and maintenance, training and medical services, administration and related activities, and support of other nations.
The Draft Presidential Memorandum (DPM)—intended for the White House and usually prepared by the systems analysis office—was a method to study and analyze major defense issues. Sixteen DPMs appeared between 1961 and 1968 on such topics as strategic offensive and defensive forces, NATO strategy and force structure, military assistance, and tactical air forces. OSD sent the DPMs to the services and the Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) for comment; in making decisions, McNamara included in the DPM a statement of alternative approaches, force levels, and other factors. The DPM in its final form became a decision document. The DPM was hated by the JCS and uniformed military in that it cut their ability to communicate directly to the White House. [ citation needed ] The DPMs were also disliked because the systems analysis process was so heavyweight that it was impossible for any service to effectively challenge its conclusions. [ citation needed ]
The Development Concept Paper examined performance, schedule, cost estimates, and technical risks to provide a basis for determining whether to begin or continue a research and development program. [ citation needed ]But in practice, what it proved to be was a cost burden that became a barrier to entry for companies attempting to deal with the military. It aided the trend toward a few large non-competitive defense contractors serving the military. Rather than serving any useful purpose, the overhead necessary to generate information that was often in practice ignored resulted in increased costs throughout the system.
The Readiness, Information, and Control Tables provided data on specific projects, more detailed than in the FYDP, such as the tables for the Southeast Asia Deployment Plan, which recorded by month and quarter the schedule for deployment, consumption rates, and future projections of U.S. forces in Southeast Asia.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was between the United States and the Soviet Union lasting for 13 days in October 1962. During this time, Robert McNamara was serving as Secretary of Defense and one of John F. Kennedy's trusted advisors. When Kennedy received confirmation of the placement of offensive soviet missiles in Cuba, he immediately set up 'Executive Committee', referred to as 'ExComm'. This committee included United States government officials, including Robert McNamara, to advise Kennedy on the crisis. Kennedy instructed ExComm to immediately come up with a response to the Soviet threat unanimously without him present. During this time it was confirmed the crisis had to be resolved within 48 hours by receiving two messages from Nikita Khruschev. The first message, an informal one, stated if the United States guaranteed to not invade Cuba then they would take the missiles out. The second message, a more formal one, was broadcast on the radio stating if the United States attacked then Cuba was prepared to retaliate with masses of military power. Although American defense planning focused on using nuclear weapons, Kennedy and McNamara saw it was clear the use of strategic weapons could be suicidal. a.m. EDT, the quarantine line around Cuba went into effect. Following Cuba's aftermath, McNamara stated, "There is no such thing as strategy, only crisis management."On Tuesday October 16, ExComm had their first meeting.The majority of officials favored an air attack on Cuba in hopes to destroy the missile sites, although the vote was not unanimous which brought them to other alternatives. By the end of the week, ExComm came up with four different alternative strategies to present to the president: a blockade, an air strike, an invasion, or some combination of these. These actions are known as OPLAN 312, OPLAN 314 and OPLAN 316. A quarantine was a way to prevent the Soviets from bringing any military equipment in or out of Cuba. During the final review of both alternatives on Sunday October 21, upon Kennedy's request, McNamara presented the argument against the attack and for the quarantine. On Wednesday, October 24 at 10:00
McNamara's staff stressed systems analysis as an aid in decision making on weapon development and many other budget issues. The secretary believed that the United States could afford any amount needed for national security, but that "this ability does not excuse us from applying strict standards of effectiveness and efficiency to the way we spend our defense dollars.... You have to make a judgment on how much is enough." Acting on these principles, McNamara instituted a much-publicized cost reduction program, which, he reported, saved $14 billion in the five-year period beginning in 1961. Although he had to withstand a storm of criticism from senators and representatives from affected congressional districts, he closed many military bases and installations that he judged unnecessary for national security. He was equally determined about other cost-saving measures.
Due to the nuclear arms race, the Vietnam War buildup and other projects, Total Obligational Authority (TOA) increased greatly during the McNamara years. Fiscal year TOA increased from $48.4 billion in 1962 (equal to $314 billion in 2018) to $49.5 ($307) billion in 1965 (before the major Vietnam increases) to $74.9 ($421) billion in 1968, McNamara's last year in office (though he left office in February). Not until FY 1984 did DoD's total obligational authority surpass that of FY 1968 in constant dollars.[ citation needed ]
One major hallmark of McNamara's cost reductions was the consolidation of programs from different services, most visibly in aircraft acquisition, believing that the redundancy created waste and unnecessary spending. McNamara directed the Air Force to adopt the Navy's F-4 Phantom and A-7 Corsair combat aircraft, a consolidation that was quite successful. Conversely, his actions in mandating a premature across-the-board adoption of the untested M16 rifle proved catastrophic when the weapons began to fail in combat, though later congressional investigations revealed the causes of these failures as negligence and borderline sabotage on behalf of the Army ordnance corp's officers. McNamara tried to extend his success by merging development programs as well, resulting in the TFX dual service F-111 project. It was to combine Navy requirements for an Fleet Air Defense (FAD) aircraft [ citation needed ]and Air Force requirements for a tactical bomber. His experience in the corporate world led him to believe that adopting a single type for different missions and service would save money. He insisted on the General Dynamics entry over the DOD's preference for Boeing because of commonality issues. Though heralded as a fighter that could do everything (fast supersonic dash, slow carrier and short airfield landings, tactical strike, and even close air support), in the end it involved too many compromises to succeed at any of them. The Navy version was drastically overweight and difficult to land, and eventually canceled after a Grumman study showed it was incapable of matching the abilities of the newly revealed Soviet MiG-23 and MiG-25 aircraft. The F-111 would eventually find its niche as a tactical bomber and electronic warfare aircraft with the Air Force.
However, many analysts believe that even though the TFX project itself was a failure, McNamara was ahead of his time as the trend in fighter design has continued toward consolidation — the F-16 Falcon and F/A-18 Hornet emerged as multi-role fighters, and most modern designs combine many of the roles the TFX would have had. In many ways, the Joint Strike Fighter is seen as a rebirth of the TFX project, in that it purports to satisfy the needs of three American Air arms (as well as several foreign customers), fulfilling the roles of strike fighter, carrier-launched fighter, V/STOL, and close air support (and drawing many criticisms similar to those leveled against the TFX).
During President John F. Kennedy's term, while McNamara was Secretary of Defense, America's troops in Vietnam increased from 900 to 16,000 advisers,who were not supposed to engage in combat but rather to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The number of combat advisers in Vietnam when Kennedy died varies depending upon source. The first military adviser deaths in Vietnam occurred in 1957 or 1959 under the Eisenhower Administration, which had infiltrated Vietnam, through the efforts of Stanley Sheinbaum, with an unknown number of CIA operatives and other special forces in addition to almost 700 advisers.
The Truman and Eisenhower administrations had committed the United States to support the French and native anti-Communist forces in Vietnam in resisting efforts by the Communists in the North to unify the country, though neither administration established actual combat forces in the war. The U.S. role—initially limited to financial support, military advice and covert intelligence gathering—expanded after 1954 when the French withdrew. During the Kennedy administration, the U.S. military advisory group in South Vietnam steadily increased, with McNamara's concurrence, from 900 to 16,000.U.S. involvement escalated after the Gulf of Tonkin incidents in August 1964, involving two purported attacks on a U.S. Navy destroyer by North Vietnamese naval vessels.
Records from the Lyndon Johnson Library have perhaps indicated that McNamara misled Johnson on the attack on a U.S. Navy destroyer by allegedly withholding calls against executing airstrikes from US Pacific Commanders. Võ Nguyên Giáp who told his American counterpart that the August 4 attack never happened, a conclusion McNamara eventually came to accept.McNamara was also instrumental in presenting the event to Congress and the public as justification for escalation of the war against the communists. In 1995, McNamara met with former North Vietnam Defense Minister
President Johnson ordered retaliatory air strikes on North Vietnamese naval bases. Congress approved, with only Senators Wayne Morse (D-OR), and Ernest Gruening (D-AK), voting against,the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing the president "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the U.S. and to prevent further aggression." Regardless of the particulars of the incident, the larger issue would turn out to be the sweeping powers granted by the resolution. It gave Johnson virtually unfettered authority to expand retaliation for a relatively minor naval incident into a major land war involving 500,000 American soldiers. "The fundamental issue of Tonkin Gulf involved not deception but, rather, misuse of power bestowed by the resolution," McNamara wrote later.
In January 1965, McNamara together with the National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy co-wrote a memo to President Johnson stating "both of us are now pretty well convinced that our present policy can lead only to disastrous defeat" as it was hopeless to expect the unstable and corrupt South Vietnamese government to defeat the Viet Cong who were steadily "gaining in the countryside". [ citation needed ]Bundy and McNamara wrote "the time for has come for hard choices" as the United States now had the alternatives of either negotiating with North Vietnam to "salvage what little can be preserved" or resort to intervention to "force a change". Both Bundy and McNamara stated that they favored the latter, arguing that the commitment of U.S troops to fight in South Vietnam and a strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam were now required. In 1965, in response to stepped up military activity by the Viet Cong in South Vietnam and their North Vietnamese allies, the U.S. began bombing North Vietnam, deployed large military forces and entered into combat in South Vietnam. McNamara's plan, supported by requests from top U.S. military commanders in Vietnam, led to the commitment of 485,000 troops by the end of 1967 and almost 535,000 by June 30, 1968. The casualty lists mounted as the number of troops and the intensity of fighting escalated. McNamara put in place a statistical strategy for victory in Vietnam. He concluded that there were a limited number of Viet Cong fighters in Vietnam and that a war of attrition would destroy them. He applied metrics (body counts) to determine how close to success his plan was.
In July 1965, McNamara visited South Vietnam on a "fact-finding mission" for President Johnson and met the new South Vietnamese Premier, Air Marshal Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, whose flamboyant uniform which he had designed himself of a white jacket, black pants, red socks and black shoes led McNamara to dub him as looking "like a saxophone player in a second-rate nightclub".McNamara was not impressed with Air Marshal Kỳ, reporting to Johnson that he saw little evidence that he was capable of defeating the Viet Cong, and the United States would have to send more troops to South Vietnam. Upon his return to the United States, McNamara told the press that the U.S forces in Vietnam were inflicting "increasingly heavy losses" on the Viet Cong, but in private told President Johnson that the situation was "worse than a year ago". McNamara also advised the president that by early 1966 he would have to sent 100, 000 more troops to South Vietnam in order to win the war, and mobilize the reserves and state National Guards as well. Johnson accepted the first recommendation while rejecting the latter. To mobilize the reserves and National Guard would mean have to call up hundreds of thousands of men from civilian life, which would inevitably disrupt the economy, which in turn would required ending the peacetime economy and putting the economy on a war footing. Johnson rejected a wartime economy as imposing too sacrifices on ordinary Americans that would threaten his chances at reelection.
McNamara commissioned the Vietnam Study Task Force on June 17, 1967. Intended as the official record of US military involvement in the Indochina Peninsula, the final report ran to 3,000 pages and was classified as "Top Secret – Sensitive". The report was ultimately leaked to the New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg, a former aid to McNamara's Assistant Secretary of Defense, John McNaughton. The leak became known as the Pentagon Papers, revealing that McNamara and others had been aware that the Vietnam offensive was futile. Subsequent efforts by the Nixon administration to prevent such leaks lead indirectly to the Watergate scandal.
Although he was a prime architect of the Vietnam War and repeatedly overruled the JCS on strategic matters, McNamara gradually became skeptical about whether the war could be won by deploying more troops to South Vietnam and intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam, a claim he would publish in a book years later. He also stated later that his support of the Vietnam War was given out of loyalty to administration policy. He traveled to Vietnam many times to study the situation firsthand and became increasingly reluctant to approve the large force increments requested by the military commanders. [ not specific enough to verify ] In February 1966, during the Honolulu conference, McNamara during an "off-the-record" chat with a group of journalists spoke about the war in very jaded terms, saying that frankly that Operation Rolling Thunder as the American bombing offensive against North Vietnam was known, was a failure. McNamara stated that North Vietnam was a backward Third World country that did not have the same advanced industrial infrastructure of First World nations, making the bombing offensive useless. McNamara told the journalists "No amount of bombing can end the war". Stanley Karnow, one of the journalists present during the "off-the-record" conversation, described McNamara's personality as having changed, noting the Defense Secretary who was normally so arrogant and self-assured, convinced he could "scientifically" solve any problem, as being subdued and clearly less self-confident.
In October 1966, McNamara returned from yet another visit to South Vietnam, full of confidence in public and doubt in private.McNamara told the media that "process has exceeded our expectations" while telling the president he saw "no reasonable way to bring the war to an end soon". Through McNamara reported to Johnson that American forces were inflicting heavy losses on the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, he added that they could "more than replace" their losses and that "full security exists nowhere" in South Vietnam, even in areas supposedly "pacified" by the Americans. Worse of all, McNamara complained that the South Vietnamese were still not carrying their full share of the load, as they expected the Americans to do all the fighting for them, stating: "This important war must be fought and won by the Vietnamese themselves. We have known this from the beginning. But the discouraging truth is that, as was the case in 1961 and 1963 and 1965, we have not found the formula, the catalyst, for training and inspiring them into effective action". McNamara's doubts were encouraged by his civilian aides such as Leslie H. Gelb and John McNaughton, who complained that their wives and teenage children were chiding them as "war criminals" when they came home from work. McNaughton told McNamara that after having talked to some of the young people that "a feeling is widely and strongly held...that 'the Establishment' is out of its mind" and the dominant opinion was "that we are trying to impose some U.S. image on distant peoples we cannot understand and that we carrying the thing to absurd lengths."
McNamara said that the Domino Theory was the main reason for entering the Vietnam War. In the same interview he stated, "Kennedy hadn't said before he died whether, faced with the loss of Vietnam, he would [completely] withdraw; but I believe today that had he faced that choice, he would have withdrawn."
To commemorate President Harry S Truman's signing an order to end segregation in the military McNamara issued Directive 5120.36 on July 26, 1963. This directive, Equal Opportunity in the Armed Forces, dealt directly with the issue of racial and gender discrimination in areas surrounding military communities. The directive declared, "Every military commander has the responsibility to oppose discriminatory practices affecting his men and their dependents and to foster equal opportunity for them, not only in areas under his immediate control, but also in nearby communities where they may live or gather in off-duty hours." (para. II.C.)Under the directive, commanding officers were obligated to use the economic power of the military to influence local businesses in their treatment of minorities and women. With the approval of the Secretary of Defense, the commanding officer could declare areas off-limits to military personnel for discriminatory practices.
Toward the end of his term McNamara also opposed an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system proposed for installation in the U.S. in defense against Soviet missiles, arguing the $40 billion "in itself is not the problem; the penetrability of the proposed shield is the problem."Under pressure to proceed with the ABM program after it became clear that the Soviets had begun a similar project, McNamara finally agreed to a "light" system which he believed could protect against the far smaller number of Chinese missiles. However, he never believed it was wise for the United States to move in that direction because of psychological risks of relying too much on nuclear weaponry and that there would be pressure from many directions to build a larger system than would be militarily effective.
He always believed that the best defense strategy for the U.S. was a parity of mutually assured destruction with the Soviet Union.An ABM system would be an ineffective weapon as compared to an increase in deployed nuclear missile capacity.
McNamara wrote of his close personal friendship with Jackie Kennedy and how she demanded that he stop the killing in Vietnam.As McNamara grew more and more controversial after 1966 and his differences with the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff over Vietnam strategy became the subject of public speculation, frequent rumors surfaced that he would leave office.
Senator John C. Stennis was a conservative Southern Democrat who enjoyed much influence as a senior member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.Stennis saw himself more as a champion of the military rather than its overseer, and as such the military often leaked information to him, in the full knowledge that he would take up their cause on Capital Hill. Reflecting their unhappiness with McNamara's leadership, in the spring of 1967 senior generals and admirals let Stennis know of their belief that the Defense Secretary was mismanaging the war, which led him to schedule hearing for the Senate Armed Forces Committee in August 1967 to examine the charge that "unskilled civilian amateurs" (i.e McNamara) were not letting "professional military experts" win the war as he charged that McNamara had placed too many restrictions on bombing North Vietnam to protect innocent North Vietnamese civilians. The chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Senator Richard Russell Jr., was opposed to the war, but he expressed his opposition in the most cautious and lukewarm terms as he did not wish to appear unpatriotic, and so the hawkish Stennis enjoyed power than his title of deputy chairman of the committee would suggest.
The hearings opened on 8 August 1967, and Stennis called as his witnesses numerous admirals and Air Force generals who all testified to their belief that the United States was fighting with "one arm tied behind its back", implicitly criticizing McNamara's leadership as they complained of "overtly restrictive controls" about bombing North Vietnam that they claimed were preventing them from winning the war.When McNamara himself appeared as a witness before the Senate Armed Forces Committee, he defended the war in very lukewarm terms that strongly suggested he had lost faith in the war, testifying that the bombing campaign against North Vietnam was ineffective, making the question of the bombing restrictions meaningless. McNamara testified that the bombing campaign had failed to reduce the supplies coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail as the Viet Cong needed only 15 tons of supplies per day to continue to fight and "even if the quantity were five times that amount, it could be transported by only a few trucks". McNamara went on to say that the bombing raids had not damaged the North Vietnamese economy which was "agrarian and simple" and the North Vietnamese people were unfamiliar with "the modern comforts and conveniences that most of us in the Western world take for granted". McNamara also stated that North Vietnamese morale was not broken by the bombing offensive as the North Vietnamese people were "accustomed to discipline and are no strangers to deprivation and death" while everything indicated the leadership in Hanoi were not affected by the bombing raids as he lacked "any confidence that they can be bombed to the negotiating table". McNamara concluded that only some sort of genocide could actually win the war, stating: "Enemy operations in the south cannot, on the basis of any reports I have seen be stopped by air bombardment-short, that is, of the virtual annihilation of North Vietnam and its people". Besides for Stennis, the other members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee were senators Henry M. Jackson, Storm Thurmond and Stuart Symington, all of whom were very hostile to McNamara in their questioning of him.
Stennis wrote the committee report which accused McNamara of having "consistently overruled the unanimous recommendations of military commanders and the joint chiefs of staffs", whom Stennis wrote had proposed "systematic, timely and hard-hitting actions".Stennis damned McNamara for putting in bombing restrictions to protect North Vietnamese civilians and claimed that the war could be easily won if only McNamara would just obey all of the advice he received from the military. Stennis was not influenced by the hearings as he had written the committee's report before the hearings had even began. Johnson saw the hearings both as a sign that the senior officers no longer believed in McNamara as a leader and that it was time to dismiss McNamara, whom he believed was "cracking up" under the strain of the war. Stennis, an ardent white supremacist who had fiercely opposed Johnson's civil rights legislation, was an old enemy of Johnson's, which led the president to decide not to sack McNamara in August 1967 as that would be seen as a victory by Stennis, and instead to wait a few months to fire McNamara. In an interview with his biographer, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Johnson stated that McNamara was "cracking up" as the pressures of the war were too much for him, and so he decided to fire him as it would had been "a damn unfair thing to force him to stay.. Johnson had long resented and hated the Kennedy brothers, whom he charged looked down upon him as "white trash" from Texas. Senator Robert F. Kennedy had emerged as a leading critic of the war by 1967, and Johnson stated to Kearns of his belief that McNamara had suffered some sort of nervous breakdown, which Senator Kennedy who was a close friend of McNamara, had taken advantage of. Johnson told Kearns: "Every day, Bobby [Kennedy] would call up McNamara telling him that the war was terrible and immoral, and that he had to leave". To soften the blow, Johnson claimed to Kearns that he had talked it over with McNamara and had decided to offer him the presidency of the World Bank, "the only job he really wanted then".
In an early November 1967 memorandum to Johnson, McNamara's recommendation to freeze troop levels, stop bombing North Vietnam and for the U.S. to hand over ground fighting to South Vietnam was rejected outright by the President. McNamara's recommendations amounted to his saying that the strategy of the United States in Vietnam which had been pursued to date had failed. McNamara later stated he "never heard back" from Johnson regarding the memo. Largely as a result, on November 29 of that year, McNamara announced his pending resignation and that he would become President of the World Bank. Other factors were the increasing intensity of the anti-war movement in the U.S., the approaching presidential campaign in which Johnson was expected to seek re-election, and McNamara's support—over the objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—of construction along the 17th parallel separating South and North Vietnam of a line of fortifications running from the coast of Vietnam into Laos. The President's announcement of McNamara's move to the World Bank stressed his stated interest in the job and that he deserved a change after seven years as Secretary of Defense (longer than any of his predecessors or successors).
Others give a different view of McNamara's departure from office. For example, Stanley Karnow in his book Vietnam: A History strongly suggests that McNamara was asked to leave by the President.The historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr stated that he was present during a conversation between McNamara and Senator Robert F. Kennedy during which the former told the latter that he only learned from reading the newspapers of Johnson's announcement that he had just "resigned" as Defense Secretary and had been appointed president of the World Bank. McNamara himself expressed uncertainty about the question.
McNamara left office on February 29, 1968; for his efforts, the President awarded him both the Medal of Freedomand the Distinguished Service Medal. McNamara's last day as Defense Secretary was a memorable one. The hawkish National Security Adviser, Walt Whitman Rostow, argued at a cabinet meeting that day that the United States was on the verge of winning the war. Rostow urged Johnson to sent 206, 000 more American troops to South Vietnam to join the half-million already there and to drastically increase the number of bombing raids on North Vietnam. At that point, McNamara, snapped in fury at Rostow, saying: "What then? This goddamned bombing campaign, it's worth nothing, it's done nothing, they dropped more bombs than on all of Europe in all of World War II and it hasn't done a fucking thing!" McNamara then broke down in tears, saying to Johnson to just accept that the war could not be won. Henry McPherson, an aide to the president recalled the scene: "He reeled off the familiar statistics-how we had dropped more bombs on Vietnam than on all of Europe during World War II. Then his voice broke, and there were tears on his eyes as he spoke of the futility, the crushing futility of the air war. The rest of us sat silently-I for one with my mouth open, listening to the secretary of defense talk that way about a campaign for which he had, ultimately, been responsible. I was pretty shocked"..
Shortly after McNamara departed the Pentagon, he published The Essence of Security, discussing various aspects of his tenure and position on basic national security issues. He did not speak out again on defense issues or Vietnam until after he left the World Bank.
Robert McNamara served as head of the World Bank from April 1968 to June 1981, when he turned 65.In his 13 years at the Bank, he introduced key changes, most notably, shifting the Bank's focus toward targeted poverty reduction. He negotiated, with the conflicting countries represented on the Board, a growth in funds to channel credits for development, in the form of health, food, and education projects. He also instituted new methods of evaluating the effectiveness of funded projects. One notable project started during McNamara's tenure was the effort to prevent river blindness.
Reportedly, McNamara first heard about his appointment as President of the World Bank through a press-leak.
The World Bank currently has a scholarship program under his name.
As World Bank President, he declared at the 1968 Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group that countries permitting birth control practices would get preferential access to resources.
In 1982, McNamara joined several other former national security officials in urging that the United States pledge to not use nuclear weapons first in Europe in the event of hostilities; subsequently he proposed the elimination of nuclear weapons as an element of NATO's defense posture.
In 1993, Washington journalist Deborah Shapley published a 615-page biography of Robert McNamara titled Promise and Power: The Life and Times of Robert McNamara. Shapley concluded her book with these words: "For better and worse McNamara shaped much in today's world – and imprisoned himself. A little-known nineteenth century writer, F.W. Boreham, offers a summation: 'We make our decisions. And then our decisions turn around and make us.'"
McNamara's memoir, In Retrospect, published in 1995, presented an account and analysis of the Vietnam War from his point of view. According to his lengthy New York Times obituary, "[h]e concluded well before leaving the Pentagon that the war was futile, but he did not share that insight with the public until late in life. In 1995, he took a stand against his own conduct of the war, confessing in a memoir that it was 'wrong, terribly wrong'." In return, he faced a "firestorm of scorn" at that time.
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 Errol Morris documentary consisting mostly of interviews with Robert McNamara and archival footage. It went on to win the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The particular structure of this personal account is accomplished with the characteristics of an intimate dialog. As McNamara explains, it is a process of examining the experiences of his long and controversial period as the United States Secretary of Defense, as well as other periods of his personal and public life.
McNamara maintained his involvement in politics in his later years, delivering statements critical of the Bush administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq.On January 5, 2006, McNamara and most living former Secretaries of Defense and Secretaries of State met briefly at the White House with President Bush to discuss the war.
McNamara has been portrayed or fictionalized in several filmsand in at least one video game. Simon & Garfunkel's 1966 album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme contained a song titled "A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)".
McNamara married Margaret Craig, his teenage sweetheart, on August 13, 1940. She was an accomplished cook, and Robert's favorite dish was reputed to be her beef bourguignon.Margaret McNamara, a former teacher, used her position as a Cabinet spouse to launch a reading program for young children, Reading Is Fundamental, which became the largest literacy program in the country. She died of cancer in 1981.
The couple had two daughters and a son. The son Robert Craig McNamara, who as a student objected to the Vietnam War, is now a walnut and grape farmer in California.He is the owner of Sierra Orchards in Winters, California. Daughter Kathleen McNamara Spears is a forester with the World Bank. The second daughter is Margaret Elizabeth Pastor.
In the Errol Morris documentary, McNamara reports that both he and his wife were stricken with polio shortly after the end of World War II. Although McNamara had a relatively short stay in the hospital, his wife's case was more serious and it was concern over meeting her medical bills that led to his decision to not return to Harvard but to enter private industry as a consultant at Ford Motor Company.
When working at Ford Motor Company, McNamara resided in Ann Arbor, Michigan, rather than the usual auto executive domains of Grosse Pointe, Birmingham, and Bloomfield Hills. He and his wife sought to remain connected with a university town (the University of Michigan) after their hopes of returning to Harvard after the war were put on hold.
In 1961, he was named Alumnus of the Year by the University of California, Berkeley.
On September 29, 1972, a passenger on the ferry to Martha's Vineyard recognized McNamara on board and attempted to throw him into the ocean. McNamara declined to press charges. The man remained anonymous but was interviewed years later by author Paul Hendrickson, who quoted the attacker as saying, "I just wanted to confront (McNamara) on Vietnam."
After his wife's death, McNamara dated Katharine Graham, with whom he had been friends since the early 1960s.[ citation needed ] Graham died in 2001.
In September 2004, McNamara wed Diana Masieri Byfield, an Italian-born widow who had lived in the United States for more than 40 years. It was her second marriage. She was married for more than three decades to Ernest Byfield, a former OSS officer and Chicago hotel heir whose mother, Gladys Tartiere, leased her 400-acre (1.6 km²) Glen Ora estate in Middleburg, Virginia, to John F. Kennedy during his presidency.
At the end of his life McNamara was a life trustee on the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security, a trustee of the American University of Nigeria, and an honorary trustee for the Brookings Institution.
McNamara died in his sleep, at his home in Washington, D.C., at 5:30 a.m. on July 6, 2009, at the age of 93. He is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
McNamara's papers from his years as Secretary of Defense are housed in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.
McNamara was portrayed by Dylan Baker in the film Thirteen Days (2000), by Alec Baldwin in the film Path to War (2002), by Clancy Brown in the film Chappaquiddick (2017), and by Bruce Greenwood in the film The Post (2017). McNamara was the subject of the Errol Morris documentary The Fog of War (2006). He was similarly the subject of the Against Me! single High Pressure Low in 2010. McNamara is playable as a character in the Call Of Duty: Black Ops Zombie map, 'Five' alongside John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, and Richard Nixon (2010).
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident, also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved either one or two separate confrontations between North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but the Pentagon Papers, the memoirs of Robert McNamara, and NSA publications from 2005 proved material misrepresentation by the US government to justify a war against Vietnam. On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing a signals intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations, was pursued by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire. Maddox expended over 280 3-inch (76.2 mm) and 5-inch (127 mm) shells in a sea battle. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed, with six more wounded. There were no U.S. casualties. Maddox "was unscathed except for a single bullet hole from a Vietnamese machine gun round."
Clark McAdams Clifford was an American lawyer who served as an important political adviser to Democratic presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. His official government positions were White House Counsel (1946–1950), Chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (1963–1968), and Secretary of Defense (1968–1969); Clifford was also influential in his role as an unofficial, informal presidential adviser in various issues. A successful Washington lawyer, he was known for his elite clientele, charming manners, and impeccable suits.
Melvin Robert "Bom" Laird was an American politician, writer and statesman. He was a U.S. congressman from Wisconsin from 1953 to 1969 before serving as Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973 under President Richard Nixon. Laird was instrumental in forming the administration's policy of withdrawing U.S. soldiers from the Vietnam War; he coined the expression "Vietnamization," referring to the process of transferring more responsibility for combat to the South Vietnamese forces. First elected in 1952, Laird was the last surviving Representative elected to the 83rd Congress at the time of his death.
Operation Rolling Thunder was the title of a gradual and sustained aerial bombardment campaign conducted by the United States (U.S.) 2nd Air Division, U.S. Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 2 March 1965 until 2 November 1968, during the Vietnam War.
The Pentagon Papers, officially titled Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force, is a United States Department of Defense history of the United States' political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The papers were released by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the study; they were first brought to the attention of the public on the front page of The New York Times in 1971. A 1996 article in The New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress".
Vietnamization was a policy of the Richard Nixon administration to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War through a program to "expand, equip, and train South Vietnamese forces and assign to them an ever-increasing combat role, at the same time steadily reducing the number of U.S. combat troops." Brought on by the Viet Cong's Tet Offensive, the policy referred to U.S. combat troops specifically in the ground combat role, but did not reject combat by the U.S. Air Force, as well as the support to South Vietnam, consistent with the policies of U.S. foreign military assistance organizations. U.S. citizens' mistrust of their government that had begun after the offensive worsened with the release of news about U.S. soldiers massacring civilians at My Lai (1968), the invasion of Cambodia (1970), and the leaking of the Pentagon Papers (1971).
Walt Whitman Rostow was an American economist and political theorist who served as Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to US President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966 to 1969.
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 American documentary film about the life and times of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara illustrating his observations of the nature of modern warfare. The film was directed by Errol Morris and features an original score by Philip Glass. The title derives from the military concept of the "fog of war" depicting the difficulty of making decisions in the midst of conflict.
The McNamara Line was an operational strategy employed by the United States in 1966–1968 during the Vietnam War to prevent infiltration of South Vietnam by NVA forces from North Vietnam and Laos. The McNamara Line ran across South Vietnam from the South China Sea to the Laotian border along the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The eastern part included fortified field segments with Khe Sanh as linchpin, along with stretches, where roads and trails were guarded by the high-tech acoustic and heat-detecting sensors on the ground and interdicted from the air. A sophisticated electronic surveillance was backed with assorted types of mines, including so-called gravel mines, and troops at choke points. Named the barrier system by Robert McNamara, it was one of the key elements, along with gradual aerial bombing, of his war strategy in Vietnam.
The Brinks Hotel in Saigon, also known as the Brink Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ), was bombed by the Viet Cong on the evening of December 24, 1964, during the Vietnam War. Two Viet Cong operatives detonated a car bomb underneath the hotel, which housed United States Army officers. The explosion killed two Americans, an officer and an NCO, and injured approximately 60, including military personnel and Vietnamese civilians.
In the Vietnam War, after the assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem and John F. Kennedy in late 1963 and the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 and the continuing political instability in the South, the United States made a policy commitment to begin joint warfare in South Vietnam, a period of gradual escalation and Americanization, involving the commitment of large-scale combat forces from the United States and allied countries. It was no longer assumed the Republic of Vietnam could create a desirable situation without major external assistance. This phase of the war lasted until the election of Richard Nixon, and the change of U.S. policy to Vietnamization, or giving the main combat role back to the South Vietnamese military.
In 1965, the United States rapidly increased its military forces in South Vietnam, prompted by the realization that the South Vietnamese government was losing the Vietnam War as the communist-dominated Viet Cong gained influence over much of the population in rural areas of the country. North Vietnam also rapidly increased its infiltration of men and supplies to combat South Vietnam and the U.S.. The objective of the U.S. and South Vietnam was to prevent a communist take-over. North Vietnam and the insurgent Viet Cong sought to unite the two sections of the country.
1961 saw a new American president, John F. Kennedy, attempt to cope with a deteriorating military and political situation in South Vietnam. The Viet Cong with assistance from North Vietnam made substantial gains in controlling much of the rural population of South Vietnam. Kennedy expanded military aid to the government of President Ngo Dinh Diem, increased the number of U.S. military advisors in South Vietnam, and reduced the pressure that had been exerted on Diem during the Eisenhower Administration to reform his government and broaden his political base.
The defeat of the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) in a battle in January set off a furious debate in the United States on the progress being made in the war against the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. Assessments of the war flowing into the higher levels of the U.S. government in Washington were wildly inconsistent, some citing an early victory over the Viet Cong, others a rapidly deteriorating military situation. Some senior U.S. military officers and White House officials were optimistic; civilians of the Department of State and the CIA, junior military officers, and the media were decidedly less so. Near the end of the year, U.S. leaders became more pessimistic about progress in the war.
South Vietnam was in political chaos during much of the year, as generals competed for power and Buddhists protested against the government. The Viet Cong communist guerrillas expanded their operations and defeated the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) in many battles. North Vietnam made a definitive judgement in January to assist the Viet Cong insurgency with men and material. In November, North Vietnam ordered the North Vietnamese Army to infiltrate units into South Vietnam and undertake joint military operations with the Viet Cong.
The Viet Cong insurgency expanded in South Vietnam in 1962. U.S. military personnel flew combat missions and accompanied South Vietnamese soldiers in ground operations to find and defeat the insurgents. Secrecy was the official U.S. policy concerning the extent of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam. The U.S.'s commanding general of MACV, Paul D. Harkins, projected optimism that progress was being made in the war, but that optimism was refuted by the concerns expressed by a large number of more junior officers and civilians. Several prominent magazines, newspapers, and politicians in the U.S. questioned the military strategy the U.S. was pursuing in support of the South Vietnamese government of President Ngô Đình Diệm. Diệm created the Strategic Hamlet Program as his top priority to defeat the Viet Cong. The program intended to cluster South Vietnam's rural dwellers into defended villages where they would be provided with government social services.
National Security Action Memorandum Number 263 (NSAM-263) was a national security directive approved on 11 October 1963 by United States President John F. Kennedy. The NSAM approved recommendations by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell Taylor. McNamara and Taylor's recommendations included an appraisal that "great progress" was being made in the Vietnam War against Viet Cong insurgents, that 1,000 military personnel could be withdrawn from South Vietnam by the end of 1963, and that a "major part of the U.S. military task can be completed by the end of 1965." The U.S. at this time had more than 16,000 military personnel in South Vietnam.
National Security Action Memorandum 273 (NSAM-273) was approved by new United States President Lyndon Johnson on November 26, 1963, one day after former President John F. Kennedy's funeral. NSAM-273 resulted from the need to reassess U.S. policy toward the Vietnam War following the overthrow and assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem. The first draft of NSAM-273, completed before Kennedy's death, was approved with minor changes by President Johnson.
Declaration of Honolulu, 1966 is a communiqué and diplomatic proclamation acceded by foreign diplomats representing the Republic of Vietnam and the United States. The declaration asserted pro-democracy principles for South Vietnam while combating external aggression and insurgency by Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
According to a 1961 entry in Contemporary Biography, McNamara was a registered Republican. He changed his party affiliation to Democrat in 1978, according to public records in the District of Columbia.
Craig McNamara is owner of Sierra Orchards, a diversified farming operation producing walnuts and grape rootstock. He is a California Agricultural Leadership Program graduate, American Leadership Forum senior fellow and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean's Advisory Council member. McNamara helped structure a biologically integrated orchard system that became the model for UC/SAREP (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program) and created the FARMS Leadership Program, introducing rural and urban high school students to sustainable farming, science and technology. He was one of 10 U.S. representatives at the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome.
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| United States Secretary of Defense |
| President of the World Bank Group |