United States. Department of Defense

Interviewed by
Michael Riordan and Steven Weiss
Interview date
Location
Washington, D. C.
Abstract

This interview is part of a series conducted during research for the book Tunnel Visions, a history of the Superconducting Super Collider project. It mainly addresses Adm. James Watkins’s experiences as Secretary of Energy in President George H. W. Bush’s administration, focusing on his perception of the value and management of the SSC project. Watkins had previously served as Chief of Naval Operations (the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy) and as chair of President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic. Watkins recounts that his earliest months as secretary were dominated by the expansion of environmental remediation at Department of Energy nuclear weapons production sites and that he regarded DOE project management capabilities as poor compared to the Defense Department. He states that he first focused on the SSC when a change in its magnet design precipitated an increase in projected cost and that he questioned whether a design change was necessary. He asserts that early SSC cost estimates were unrealistic and that international contributions should have been secured earlier. He reflects that his imposition of his own oversight structure on the project stemmed from his lack of confidence in scientists or DOE to manage large-budget projects. Watkins stresses his own high regard for the SSC and scientific research, and he recollects Bush’s personal support for the project and the difficulties encountered in maintaining congressional support and gaining support from Japan. He castigates the physical sciences community for infighting and criticizes scientists’ skills in advocating for themselves politically, pointing also to his own work on behalf of ocean scientists following his time as secretary.

Interviewed by
Michael Duncan
Interview date
Abstract

The interview begins with a discussion of Giallorenzi’s youth, including his education and anecdotes about his early jobs, as well as his undergraduate and graduate work at Cornell University and his work on the scattering of laser light in Chung Tang’s laboratory there. Giallorenzi recounts his first laboratory job at GT&E Laboratories working on laser displays and arc lamps, and his move soon thereafter to the Quantum Optics Branch at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. He discusses his work at NRL on fiber optics applied to sensor technology, including acoustic and magnetic sensors, and to pathbreaking R&D in microwave photonics. He also discusses his move to leading the then-newly created NRL Optical Techniques Branch, the departure of staff working on nuclear fusion to Livermore, and new R&D directions within his branch that were necessitated by the termination of work on liquid crystals. He recalls his relationship with NRL Director of Research Alan Berman, his promotion to Optical Sciences Superintendent, his division’s focus on high-power lasers, including MIRACL, and his decision to terminate a branch within the division. He further discusses his relationship with the Pentagon, status as a member of the Senior Executive Service, and experiences as a high-level administrator. The interview concludes with discussions of other technologies NRL worked on, the balance between basic and applied research at the lab, awards Giallorenzi has received, and his work with advisory panels, the Naval Center for Space Technology, and the Optical Society of America (now Optica).

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview dates
July 17 & 19, 2020
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Sean O’Keefe, Professor at the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. O’Keefe describes moving around as a child when his father worked for the Navy. He discusses his undergraduate work at Loyola in New Orleans, and he explains his interest in pursuing a career in public service in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era when there was much cynicism about working for the government. O’Keefe describes his participation in the Presidential Management Intern Program and his work for the Department of the Navy and after that, for the Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill, where he worked on budgetary policy against the backdrop of the Cold War in the 1980s. He describes his work at Comptroller for the Department of Defense where he worked on identifying budgetary waste at the Pentagon. O’Keefe describes the scene at the Pentagon during the Gulf War, and he discusses the opportunity that led to him becoming Secretary of the Navy. He describes his career prospects outside of government after George H.W. Bush lost re-election and the opportunity leading to his professorship at Syracuse University, where he mentored students in public service leadership. O’Keefe describes being named NASA administrator in the administration of George W. Bush and some of the challenges he encountered coming from a defense background. He discusses the tragedy and his strategy in dealing with the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, both in terms of lessons learned from the engineering failures, and the grief that he shared with the families of the astronauts who died. O’Keefe describes some of the ways he attempted to turn the disaster into institutional opportunity at NASA and its impact on the Hubble space servicing mission. He describes his decision to become Chancellor at Louisiana State University, where he focused on building up the school’s endowment, dealing with Hurricane Katrina, and working to keep LSU graduates in the state. O’Keefe describes his tenure as CEO of Airbus North America before returning to Syracuse to teach in his current position. At the end of the interview, O’Keefe reflects on what he has learned about organizational leadership over the course of his career, and what he tries to convey to his students as they prepare to become the nation’s next generation of leaders.

Interviewed by
Kai-Henrik Barth
Interview date
Location
Denver, Colorado
Abstract

The interview focuses on Pakiser’s training at the Colorado School of Mines, his career in geology and seismology with an emphasis on his crustal studies in the 1960s. During this period Pakiser headed the crustal studies branch of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and contributed to the Department of Defense’s “Project Vela Uniform,” which aimed at the improvement of seismic detection capabilities.

Interviewed by
A. B. Christman
Interview date
Abstract

Effect of Sputnik on Navy research and development, position as Chief Scientist of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, and selection to be the first Director for Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E). Origins of DDR&E, its relationship with the services, and the uniformed Navy’s success in keeping R&D projects under control. DDR&E’s contacts with high level government officials, major trends and problems encountered as DDR&E, management style. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s effect on centralization of the armed forces, DDR&E and the general growth of bureaucracy, reasons for leaving DDR&E. Effect of increased R&D on the escalation of the arms race and trends in technology. Review of his career, background experience, including the Manhattan Project, Livermore Laboratory, advisory committees; Chief Scientist, Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), 1958; Director Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E); reasons for and problems involved with the establishment of the DDR&E.

Interviewed by
Robert W. Seidel
Interview date
Location
B.D.M. Corporation, Virginia
Abstract

Laser work at Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) (Rudolph Bradbury); early work on ruby lasers (Charles H. Townes, John Howard); Department of Defense (DOD) high-energy laser program; Steve Harris and Anthony DeMaria; optical masers and phased array lasers; CO2 laser at Avco-Everett; reform of service laboratories (Peter Schweitzer), 1960s; laser color centers and pump light attenuation (application to rangefinders); interaction with Office of Naval Research; spinoffs of laser research. Laser damage studies at AFCRL (q-switching); instigated by Peter Avizonis and Art Guenther; Raman light (R. K. Chang), development of Optical Parametric Oscillators; simulated Brillouin scattering (George Wolga); tunable laser work (Tony Siegman, Steve Harris); Avco Gas Dynamic Laser (GDL); Erlan Bliss and Dave Milam; Stickley replaced by Howard Schlossberg; dispersion of laser damage group; transfer of laser glass and damage experience to DOE—Livermore. Stickley moves to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); Glenn Sherwood, Maurice Sinnot, Ed Gerry, David Mann, Steve Lukasik; Laser Window Program; DARPA interdisciplinary materials science program; Chemical Laser Damage Program (J. A. Harrington). Joins the Department of Energy (DOE) and its laser fusion program; politics and recruitment; Lawrence Livermore Laboratory vs. Los Alamos National Laboratory; DOD vs. DOE laboratories. The Strategic Defense Initiative; Stickley moves to Battelle Memorial Institute.

Interviewed by
Finn Aaserud
Interview date
Location
Santa Ynez, California
Abstract

Family background; education at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institution, New York University (Richard Courant); works as engineer at Republic Aviation while a graduate student in mathematics at Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics; Ph.D. thesis on rolling up of von Karman vortex sheet (Kurt Otto Friedrichs). To Convair, 1954; Atlas development program (Hans Friedrich); origins of the University of California, San Diego; moved up to General Dynamics Research & Development division, 1958; organizing and filming the Convair Lecture Series (von Karman, George Gamow). Enters government committee work (von Karman, Courant); transition to Department of Defense; the Kennedy administration (Robert McNamara, Herbert York, Harold Brown); member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC). Takes position as vice-president at North American Aviation; leaves as a result of Bobby Baker scandal, 1964. Starts non-defense division of Rand Corporation. Commercial contact with scientists in Soviet Union. Defense Science Board Task Force on High-Energy Lasers. Project 137 (Eugene Wigner, John Wheeler, Oscar Morgenstern, Marvin Goldberger); Project Bassoon (Nick Christofilos); A. G. Hill, James McCormack; origins of JASON (Charles Townes, Goldberger).

Interviewed by
Kai-Henrik Barth
Interview date
Location
University of Minnesota
Abstract

Interview focuses on Frosch's involvement in issues related to seismic detection of underground nuclear weapons test during the 1960s. He also describes his time as director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency's Nuclear Test Detection Office from 1963 to 1965. In this position Frosch helped to manage the Department of Defense's "Project Vela Uniform," which aimed at the improvement of seismic detection capabilites. He played a major role in the realization of the Large Aperture Seismic Array (LASA).

Interviewed by
Finn Aaserud
Interview date
Abstract

In this interview E. A. Frieman discusses topics such as: being a member of JASON; Princeton University; John Wheeler; Los Alamos National Laboratory; Ken Watson; Keith Brueckner, Murph Goldberger; Francis Low; Geoff Chew; Lyman Spitzer; Charles Townes; Project Matterhorn; Edward Teller; Stanford Research Institute (SRI); Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); Herbert York; Dick Garwin; Department of Defense; Department of Energy; Stan Flatte; Strategic Defense Initiative.

Interviewed by
Kai-Henrik Barth
Interview date
Location
Golden, Colorado
Abstract

In 1965 Evernden, a Berkeley-trained seismologist, became involved in the scientific-technical-political debate about the seismic detection of underground nuclear weapons tests. From 1965 to 1969 Evernden worked inside the Department of Defense as a sesimologist expert, first for the secret Air Force Technical Applications Center, later for the Advanced Research Projects Agency. He soon became convinced that only a few seismologists were actively working towards a solution of the detection problem, and that a number of individuals tried to prevent such as solution to the test ban treaty issue. Since then he has been an outspoken supporter of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and critic of the Department of Defense's work on seismic detection.