Rearming for the Cold War, 1945-1960

by Elliott V. Converse III

Book cover for Rearming for the Cold War, 1945-1960

This volume is a history of the acquisition of major weapon systems by the United States armed forces from 1945 to 1960, the decade and a half that spanned the Truman and Eisenhower administrations following World War II. These instruments of warfareaircraft, armored vehicles, artillery, guided missiles, naval vessels, and supporting electronic systemswhen combined with nuclear warheads, gave the postwar American military unprecedented deterrent and striking power.1 They were also enormously expensive. The volume is organized chronologically, with individual chapters addressing the roles of OSD, the Army, Navy, and Air Force in two distinct periods. The first, roughly coinciding with President Trumans tenure, covers the years from the end of World War II through the end of the Korean War in

1953. The second spans the two terms of the Eisenhower presidency from 1953 through early 1961. The year 1953 marked a natural breakpoint between the two periods. The Korean War had ended. President Eisenhower and his defense team began implementing the New Look, a policy and strategy based on nuclear weapons, which they believed would provide security and make it possible to reduce military spending. The New Looks stress on nuclear weapons, along with the deployment of the first operational guided missiles and the rapid advances subsequently made in nuclear and missile technology, profoundly influenced acquisition in the services throughout the 1950s and the remainder of the century. As used in this study, the term acquisition encompasses the activities by which the United States obtains weapons and other equipment. In surveying the history of acquisition between 1945 and 1960, this study discusses or refers in passing to many of the hundreds of weapon system programs initiated by the services in that period, but it is not a weapons encyclopedia. Instead, it investigates a few major programs in depth in the belief that such detailed examination best reveals the evolution of acquisition policies, organizations, and processes, and the various forces influencing weapons programs.

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