[ii] This is an account of the more important activities of the NASA Office of Defense Affairs from its establishment on December 1, 1962, to January 1, 1968, the period during which I headed that Office. It is not a complete history of the manifold relationships and interactions between NASA and the Department of Defense during that period. It covers only those aspects of the work of my office which were unclassified at the time or have since been declassified.
As I reflect on the contents of this narrative, I am concerned lest a reader gain -the impression that conflict and controversy rather than cooperation, common effort, and mutual support were the general rule in NASA's overall interface with the DOD. Such an impression would be entirely wrong.
It is true that in the earlier part of the period there existed to some degree a climate of competition for aerospace projects, not so much on the NASA side because the feeling here was very strong that the Space Agency should be involved only in strictly non-military activities, but somewhat more evident on the part of a few in the DOD who remembered the time when the affairs of the NACA, NASA's predecessor, were presided over by a mixed civilian-military committee and the first ventures of the U.S. in space were carried on almost exclusively by the Military. As such men as Dr. John E. Foster; Jr., DDR&E, Gen. John P. McConnell, USAF, Gen. James Ferguson, USAF, and Maj. Gene Vincent G. Huston, USAF, moved into key positions in the DOD aerospace program, the attitude toward NASA became entirely one of recognition of the competence and capability residing in NASA, available for the asking to assist the Services in meeting their research and developmental needs, and a desire to make maximum use of this national resource. We found these men, and many others like -them, to be bread-gauge in their thinking, objective, fair-minded, and very easy to work with. The old feeling of competition evolved into a new spirit of partnership.
To place the contents of this narrative in proper perspective, it is necessary to understand the function of the Office of Defense Affairs in the NASA organization. Our mission, essentially, was to strengthen the ties of understanding, coordination, and common effort between the two Agencies who together were responsible for the total national space program and most of the government-sponsored research and development in the field of aeronautics. To do this, it was our job not only to establish and monitor working arrangements and charnels of communication but also to smooth out the rough spots when they did occur. The former duty at times required innovative thought and initiative, yet when things went well and the parts readily fell into place, only a small expenditure of time and effort was involved. Resolving an issue on the other hand, was apt to be a long and arduous undertaking. Where there was ready agreement as to a course of common action, a telephone call or a short conference usually sufficed to [iii] set the wheels in motion. A trouble-shooting operation took much longer. Thus, an account of our activities must to a large extent, by the very nature of things, deal with the ironing out of difficulties.
It is noteworthy that, in every case in which differences did arise between NASA and the DOD, they were ultimately resolved at or below the Administrator-Secretary of Defense level without the necessity of referring the issue to the President, the only common superior to the Heads of the two Agencies.
When one views the NASA-DOD relationship of this period in an agency-wide sense, one sees an overall picture of mutual support and concerted effort in the best national interest - a strong desire on the part of each Agency to assist the other to discharge its assigned functions and to achieve its goals. NASA constantly sought ways in which its efforts in research and development could be oriented toward greater responsiveness to the interests and needs of the Military Services. At the same time, much of the NASA aerospace R&D program, and indeed the successful realization of the national goal of landing a man on the Moon and safely returning him to Earth, could not have been accomplished without the vast amount of assistance and support received from the Department of Defense.
As to format, I have chosen to provide informal in-text references in support of most of the subject matter, rather than to employ the more conventional practice of furnishing voluminous footnote documentation. While the professional historian might be somewhat disappointed in this, I think it makes for easier reading by persons having a personal direct or tangential interest in what went on. I have avoided some sensitive areas, particularly where there was a strong personality factor involved. Neither have I considered it appropriate to attempt much in the way of interpreting underlying causes, analyzing motives, or evaluating effects, since to do so in an agency-sponsored document would impose obstacles in the form of clearances and concurrences too formidable to face. I have simply tried accurately to relate salient events as they took place.
In writing this story, I have received help from many of my former colleagues in NASA Headquarters, not only in gathering material and recalling events but also in reviewing my manuscript for accuracy. There are too many to name individually, but I must at least express my appreciation to a NASA career secretary, Mrs. Elizabeth B. Heberle, for her staunch administrative assistance and her enduring patience in translating my abominable handwriting into neat typing.