Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Columbia University's IDA Jason Project 1960s Work--Part 1

The purpose of the Project Jason group of U.S. university professors that Columbia University’s Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] weapons research think-tank set up in the late 1950s was described by Princeton University Professor John Wheeler in the following way, in a Dec. 11, 1963 letter to former IDA Vice President and Director of Research Albert Hill:

“Project Jason of the Institute for Defense Analyses has served as one mechanism to draw a new generation into defense issues. It has had the great advantage of making defense work seem to scientists not as a second rate activity, as it is often regarded in other countries, but as something deserving the attention of the very best minds.”

On Friday, Oct. 20, 1961 at 1710 H Street NW in Washington, D.C., for example, the Jason Division of Columbia’s IDA held the initial session of its annual Fall meeting. At 9:00 a.m., Seymour Deitchman of IDA’s RESD Division spoke and led a discussion about “Problems of Limited War.” Then, at 11:30 a.m., Dr. Michael May spoke and led a discussion about “Limited War Technology.” After a lunch break, the U.S. university professors who were members of the Jason Division then heard Richard DuBois of IDA’s Weapons Systems Evaluation Division speak and lead a discussion at 3:30 p.m. on “Carrier Tactical Forces Through 1963.”

The following morning at 9:00 a.m. on Sat., Oct. 21, 1961, Dr. M. Ruderman and Columbia University Professor of Physics Henry Foley, both members of the Jason Division, began the second day’s session of Jason’s annual Fall meeting by leading a discussion on “Midas.” Then at 1:00 p.m., former Columbia Professor of Physics Charles Townes led a discussion on “CORWA.” And the second day’s session ended with a 2:45 p.m. discussion led by Dr. Paul Hansen of IDA’s Weapons Systems Evaluation Group on the “Tactical Aircraft Penetration Study.”

The Jason Division of Columbia’s IDA also held a summer weapons research study session between June 14, 1965 and July 30, 1965 in Building N. 3614 at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts during the 1960s. Half of the Pentagon weapons researchers attending this summer Jason Division meeting were ARPA, RAND and IDA staff employees and half of the attendees were U.S. university professors who were Jason Division members. Besides former Columbia University Professor Townes, the steering committee for the 1965 Jason summer study session included Columbia Professor or Physics Henry Foley, Columbia Professor of Physics Leon Lederman and Columbia Professor Richard Garwin, who also directed Columbia’s IBM Watson Laboratory.

Next: Columbia University’s IDA Jason Project 1960s Work—Part 2

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