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The three-stage Vanguard missile that feeped yesterday morning sat on the test stand for a while playing dragon and then sort of rolled over and died. The brief blast of the Navy's missile was followed by long and uphappy statements from most of this nation's leaders. Reaction abroad was an interesting contrast as our allies wore amused smiles, obviously enjoying the sight of the vaunted American technology explode so indecorously.
Unfortuntely for the future and present safety of this nation, neither amusement nor ranting about the Vanguard project will remove the serious flaws of our missles program. The need is not for recriminations about the timing and publicity of the Vanguard project, but for a series of drastic changes in this nation's system of missile research, production, and control.
All too many people believed that President Eisen-hower announced just such a reorganization in his televised speech on the missiles program. One Boston newspaper ran a vast headline which declared, "KILLIAN APPOINTED MISSILES CZAR." While Killian is an adviser of some sort, he is certainly not a missile czar. Nor, for that matter, is William Holaday, special assistant on guided missiles to the Secretary of Defense, a missile-czar. At best, Holaday represents an attempt to cut down on bureaucracy by adding another bureau-crat. Neither he nor Killian can do anything more than advise the already over-advised men who created the present system of rivalries, inefficiencies, and unnecessary secrecies.
Considering the inefficiency of the present organization for missiles development, failures of the Vanguard type and dangerous laggings in ICBM development can only be expected. The present hydra-headed system produces innumerable delays in production and reversals of policy. A few weeks ago, for example, the President explained that the Vanguard project was a minor experiment to be conducted solely by the Navy. The Army's efforts, he continued, must be reserved for the IRBM, the Jupiter C. Shortly, if not immediately afterward, the Secretary of Defense announced that the Army and its Jupiter C rocket would join project Vanguard. In another reversal or at least confusion of policies, the Navy and presumably the Administration gave yesterday's launching all possible publicity, while previous experiments of this nature had little if any such coverage. Had the administrators been in contact with the scientists, or even the Martin Aircraft Company, they would have realized how risky, if not suicidal, this policy was.
If this nation is to match Russia's ballistic missiles, our own program must be overhauled. There is an obvious need for a real missile czar who would rule an independent commission with its own budget of the Manhattan Project type. Such a group would control the development of all missiles and would allocate these weapons to the armed services on the basis of a strict formula. This commission would end duplications and rivalries. With the necessary power and financing, it would prove far more efficient than the present system. In long range terms, the board would be better able to control basic research and would be less narrow in its military thinking than the overly-committed branches of the armed services. Under the present system, the United States could not win the missiles race. Indeed, it could not even lose well.
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