Academic journal article Military Review

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Volume 5, the McNamara Ascendancy, 1961-1965

Academic journal article Military Review

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Volume 5, the McNamara Ascendancy, 1961-1965

Article excerpt

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Volume 5, The McNamara Ascendancy, 1961-1965, Lawrence S. Kaplan, Ronald D. Landa, and Edward J. Drea, Office of the secretary of Defense, Washington, DC, 2006, 664 pages, $49.00.

Writing the history of a large government institution is always a challenging task, but the challenge is increased when the head of the institution is a controversial figure whose dramatic actions are difficult to assess outside the organizational context in which they occurred. Seen in this light, The McNamara Ascendency, the official history of the Office of the Secretary of Defense during the first four years of Robert S. McNamara's tenure, is a remarkable achievement.

The authors begin with a mundane but necessary discussion of McNamara's organizational changes, to include the creation of various joint organizations (Defense Intelligence Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, et al.) and the implementation of the Planning-Programming-Budgeting System, McNamara's attempt to eliminate duplication between the military services by budgeting along functional lines-general war offensive forces, general purpose forces, sealift, and airlift forces, etc. Inevitably, these changes produced conflict between a defense secretary with strongly held ideas and the military and congressional leaders whose opinions he disregarded. …

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