Thursday, March 20, 2008

Columbia University's IDA Jason Project 1960s Work--Part 3

An April 13, 1966 “Draft Proposal,” marked “Private,” that was written up by the Cambridge Study group professors indicates the Vietnam War-related purpose of the 1966 Jason Division Summer Study of Columbia’s IDA. In its “Preamble,” for example, the “Draft Proposal” states:

“The continuing struggle in Vietnam has rapidly become this nation’s dominant military and foreign policy concern…

“The growing seriousness…of the Vietnam War naturally leads scientists and engineers, especially those with long experience in weapons development and military strategy, to ask whether there are technological opportunities that could contribute substantially to the achievement of the nation’s objectives in Vietnam. In particular, questions arise as to whether technological innovations are feasible to reduce the cost or speed the fulfillment of the present military strategy, and whether technology applied to alternative military strategies might make some other options more attractive by virtue of being less costly in lives and resources without impairing achievement of political objectives.

“A group of scientists and engineers who have been involved in military/technical analyses in the past at the Defense Department and the White House are preparing to conduct a special short-term study to examine these questions in depth, with a view to making specific recommendations to the Department of Defense.”

The April 13, 1966 “Draft Proposal” then listed the specific “objectives” of the 1966 Jason Division Summer Study of Columbia’s IDA:

“1. To determine if there are possible technological innovations in military weapons and practices that could enhance the probability of achieving military objectives, consistent with our political objectives, in Vietnam at lower cost; and

“2. As a necessary concomitant to the first objective, to make an estimate of the costs and effectiveness of the present military tactics and of possible military options, especially in the light of feasible technological innovations.

“The kinds of military options that should be considered in the light of the nation’s political objectives include:

“1. increase of American military power and pressure to force the withdrawal of the N.L.F. and Viet Cong;

“2. continuation of roughly the existing level of confrontation;

“3. reduction of American and Vietnamese military action with a view to limiting the military objective to the guarantee of the protection of `free zones’; and

“4. variations of the latter to include ranges from fluid, active defenses of free zones and to static perimeter defenses.

“Technological possibilities will have to be examined in areas such as: interdiction of communication and transportation, reconnaissance, geographical barriers (the possibility of `sealing off’ South Vietnam); weapons systems; military and civilian personnel protection; and others.

“The general intention will be to identify new or existing military and technological opportunities, to estimate their cost and usefulness against the costs and effectiveness of present strategy and weapons, and to recommend further action or policies for the Department of Defense in the light of these estimates.”

Finally, the April 13, 1966 “Draft Proposal” described its “Plan for the Study” by the Jason Divison of Columbia’s IDA:

“It is planned to bring together a group of up to (or less than) fifty scientists and engineers for two weeks in mid-June, 1966, two weeks in the latter part of July, and if necessary two weeks in the latter part of August. These intensive two-week periods will be preceded by and interspersed with occasional one-day meetings and by directed staff work. In addition, a steering committee of roughly six scientists and engineers will meet regularly to formulate the concepts and guide the deliberations.

“Some early briefings may be held in Washington; the bulk of activity will take place in the Cambridge area.”

Next: Columbia University’s IDA Jason Project 1960s Work—Part 4