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The Secretary of Defense

The Secretary of Defense

Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The Secretary of Defense
    Book Description:

    Since its creation by the National Security Act of 1947 the office of secretary of defense has grown rapidly in power and influence, surpassing at times that of the secretary of state to become second only to the presidency in the government of the United States. The pivotal secretaries, according to Kinnard, are James Forrestal, Charles Wilson, Robert McNamara, Melvin Laird, and James Schlesinger.

    Kinnard analyzes the administration of each of these secretaries not only within the domestic and international contexts of his time but also within the bureaucratic world in which the secretary functions along with the president and secretary of state.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5708-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-7)

    In 1947 Congress passed the National Security Act which, among other things, established the cabinet position of secretary of defense. In the intervening years, the position has increased in significance to the point where it is perhaps second only to that of the president. This book is concerned with the evolution of that office from the incumbency of James Forrestal, the first secretary, until the departure of Secretary James Schlesinger in late 1975. It is not a history of the office, nor is it an attempt to build social science theory. Rather, it is designed to provide insight on the...

  5. 1 The Embattled James Forrestal
    (pp. 8-43)

    On September 17, 1947, James Vincent Forrestal was sworn in as the first secretary of defense. He held that position until March 1949. Those were turbulent years for an America still emerging from World War II. On the international scene the cold war, which, by whatever title, had entered the consciousness of many United States officials in the final months of the European conflict was intensifying. At home the effort to reconvert the economy from war to peace continued as the central issue. To place the period of Forrestal’s tenure as defense secretary in perspective, we should first recall the...

  6. 2 Eisenhower, Wilson, McElroy, and Budgets
    (pp. 44-71)

    With the inauguration of Dwight David Eisenhower in 1953, the country acquired a president who perceived himself as an expert in matters of national security. When he took office, he had definite ideas on strategic policy, defense budgets, and the kind of secretary of defense he wanted to work with. His two major promises during the 1952 campaign had been to end the Korean War, which had been stalemated for over a year, and to reduce the budget. There was a direct relationship between the two, since ending the war, which he did within six months of taking office, was...

  7. 3 McNamara and Vietnam
    (pp. 72-112)

    On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of the United States, set forth his vision in his inaugural address. It was vigorous, activist, and optimistic. In view of what happened later in Vietnam, it is worth recalling one passage in particular: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the success of liberty.”

    Kennedy had campaigned long and hard on the inadequacies of Eisenhower’s defense and foreign policies. It was, therefore, to be expected...

  8. 4 Laird Winds Down the War
    (pp. 113-152)

    With President Johnson’s early withdrawal from the 1968 presidential race it was clear that no matter who the Republican candidate would be, his chances of success were infinitely greater than they would have been against an incumbent president. It was also clear that the Vietnam War would be the major issue of the pre-and post-convention campaigns. As it turned out, Richard Milhous Nixon, who officially announced his candidacy in early February at the start of the New Hampshire primary campaign and who was the front-running Republican candidate from the outset, became the Republican candidate, his opponent becoming Vice President Hubert...

  9. 5 James R. Schlesinger: Strategist
    (pp. 153-191)

    James Rodney Schlesinger served as secretary of defense during the last year of the Nixon adminstration and the first year of the Ford administration.¹ The major event of the first part of his term, transcending all issues domestic and international, was Watergate. It will sufficient here merely to highlight certain of the major events concerned with the episode to provide a feeling for the domestic milieu of the last of the Nixon presidential years.

    Nixon’s second term was hardly under way when the Senate Watergate hearings began that spring. In mid-July the bombshell was dropped that tapes had been made...

  10. 6 The Secretary of Defense in Retrospect
    (pp. 192-206)

    The experiences of World War II and the increased role of America on the world scene were the impetus for the 1945-1947 debate on how best to restructure the executive branch to cope with national security matters. As pertains to the defense establishment, the unification debate was deeply rooted in the differing strategic views and pride of service of the army, navy, and the soon-to-be air force, as well as of their respective supporters both in and out of Congress. The resulting National Security Act of 1947 was of necessity a compromise attempt to begin unification, and the outcome, insofar...

    (pp. 207-209)
    (pp. 210-211)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 212-240)
    (pp. 241-246)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 247-254)