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June 27, 2012

Jerry Pournelle linked to a Nextbigfuture article by Joseph Friedlander

Jerry Pournelle linked to an article by Joseph Friedlander from Chaos Manor

Jerry Pournelle said -

There is a long bit on McNamara and the Strategy of Technology http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/05/where-did-future-go-strategy-of.html which will be worth the attention of those interested in those subjects.

The article is - Where did the future go-- The Strategy of Technology and The Space Race, McNamara and LBJ and the Lost Future of 2001.

Abstract of the article- Robert McNamara killed X-plane experimentation. Technological development needs a lot of trial and error with rapid build and test and modify iterations. By removing rapid development cycles the cost of technology has increased and the pace of technology has slowed. This has become a fundamental flaw in many US technology development programs. There is a lot of links and extracts from Freeman Dyson and Jerry Pournelle about the flaws in Technology Development policy which are traced back to what McNamara did.

wikipedia - Jerry Eugene Pournelle (born August 7, 1933) is an American science fiction writer, essayist and journalist who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte.

Since 1998, Pournelle has maintained a website with a daily online journal, "View from Chaos Manor", a blog dating from before the use of that term. This is a continuation of his 1980s blog-like online journal on GEnie. He says he resists using the term blog because he considers the word ugly and because he maintains that his "View" is primarily a vehicle for writing rather than a collection of links.



In the article it is noted that Jerry Pournelle and Stefan Possony created the term “Strategy of Technology”.

Jerry Pournelle's operational definition of the Strategy of Technology was to tire out and one-up the Soviets by upgrading our weapons (hopefully) faster than they could. The Soviets were getting very good at putting new generations of weapons into service (especially after the skill upgrade they absorbed from German craftsmen after their World War 2 victory—see 1957’s America, Too Young To Die! By Major de Seversky.

Strategy of Technology doctrine involves a country using its advantage in technology to create and deploy weapons of sufficient power and numbers so as to overawe or beggar its opponents, forcing them to spend their limited resources on developing hi-tech countermeasures and straining their economy.

In 1983, The US Defense Intelligence Agency established a classified program, Project Socrates, to develop a national technology strategy policy. This program was designed to maintain the US military strength relative to the Soviet Union, while also maintaining the economic and military strength required to keep the US as a superpower.

The Strategy of Technology is described in the eponymous book written by Stefan T. Possony, Jerry Pournelle and Francis X. Kane (Col., USAF, ret.) in 1970.This was required reading in the U.S. service academies, the Air War College, and the National War College during the latter half of the Cold War.

Jerry Pournelle on some of the changes McNamara Made

Jerry Pournelle mentions that McNamara severed strategy from operations in a way, which had long lasting ill effects (and essentially began the "X Command/Y Command" structure we have today)

Robert McNamara killed X-plane experimentation. Technological development needs a lot of trial and error with rapid build and test and modify iterations. By removing rapid development cycles the cost of technology has increased and the pace of technology has slowed. This has become a fundamental flaw in many US technology development programs. There is a lot of links and extracts from Freeman Dyson and Jerry Pournelle about the flaws in Technology Development policy which are traced back to what McNamara did.

Jerry Pournelle's Bio

Pournelle was born in Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish in northwestern Louisiana, and educated in Capleville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Afterwards, he obtained advanced degrees: M.S. degrees in both experimental statistics and systems engineering, and Ph.D.'s in both psychology and political science, all from the University of Washington. His political science thesis was titled "The American political continuum; an examination of the validity of the left-right model as an instrument for studying contemporary American political 'isms'" and is dated 1964.

He served as campaign research director for the mayoral campaign of 1969 for Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty (Dem.), working under campaign director Henry Salvatori. The election took place on May 27, 1969. Some months after the election Pournelle was named Executive Assistant to the Mayor in charge of research in September, 1969, but resigned from the position after two weeks. After leaving Yorty's office, in 1970 he was a consultant to the Professional Educators of Los Angeles (PELA), a group opposed to the unionization of school teachers in LA.

Pournelle was an intellectual protégé of Russell Kirk (Kenneth C. Cole, Pournelle's mentor at the University of Washington, was co-founder with Kirk of Modern Age) and Stefan T. Possony. Pournelle wrote numerous publications with Possony, including The Strategy of Technology (1970). Strategy has been used as a textbook at the United States Military Academy (West Point), the United States Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs), the Air War College, and the National War College.

Pournelle's work in the aerospace industry includes time he worked at Boeing in the late-1950s. While there, he worked on Project Thor, conceiving of "hypervelocity rod bundles," also known as "rods from God." He edited Project 75, a 1964 study of 1975 defense requirements. He worked in operations research at The Aerospace Corporation, and North American Rockwell Space Division, and was founding President of the Pepperdine Research Institute. In 1989, Pournelle, Max Hunter, and retired Army Lieutenant General Daniel O. Graham made a presentation to then Vice President Dan Quayle promoting development of the DC-X rocket.

During the 1970s and 1980s he also published articles on military tactics and wargamming in the military simulations industry in Avalon Hill's magazine The General. That led him into correspondences with some of the early figures in D&D and other FRPGs.

In 1994, Pournelle's friendly relationship with Newt Gingrich led to Gingrich securing a government job for Pournelle's son, Richard. At the time, Pournelle and Gingrich were reported to be collaborating on, "a science fiction political thriller." Pournelle's relationship with Gingrich was long established even then, as Pournelle had written the preface to Gingrich's book, Window of Opportunity (1985).

In 1985, Footfall, in which Robert A. Heinlein was a thinly veiled minor character, reached the number one spot on The New York Times bestseller list. Another bestseller, Lucifer's Hammer (1977), reached number two.

As of early 2008, Pournelle has been battling a brain tumor, which appears to be responding favorably to radiation treatment. As of 28 August 2008 he is cancer-free according to a report on his weblog.

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