NYU and Columbia University’s IDA-Pentagon Connection


“If the Institute for Defense Analyses has produced important studies on problems in national security, much of the credit must go to the university world. Five universities gave IDA its start in 1956, and since then seven more have become Members, broadening our contact with the academic community and strengthening the direction of our corporate affairs. From these and other universities have come many of our scientists and officers, as permanent members or on leaves of absence….

“Without the efforts of these men and the cooperation of these institutions, IDA would not be what it is. We are proud to be able to grace the pages of our report with scenes of the campuses of our twelve Member Universities, as partial recognition of our debt to the entire university world.”

–from a 1960s Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] annual report

“The longstanding mission of the System Evaluation Division(SED) is to provide high-quality analyses…SED, IDA’s oldest research division, was originally established to undertake scientific analyses of weapon systems and new equipment and technologies and to assess operational data derived from combat and field exercises.  These types of classic “systems analyses” have remained a chief focus for SED studies…”

–from the Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] website  

On April 23, 1968, Barnard College and Columbia University antiwar students in New York City non-violently occupied Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall and made six demands. Demand 3 of the antiwar students was “That the university sever all ties with the Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] and that [then-Columbia University] President Kirk and [then-Columbia University] Trustee Burden resign their positions on the Executive Committee of that institution immediately.”

In the months prior to this occupation, the Columbia and Barnard chapter of Students for a Democratic Society [SDS] had distributed around campus a leaflet explaining why it was demanding that Columbia University should sever its ties to IDA, which included the following text:

“Recent IDA Projects Further Reflect The New Emphasis In Counterinsurgency. Titles Include:

“`The Worth of Target Kill Assessment Systems’;
“`Airborne Night Television Reconnaissance-strikes’;
“`Levels of Nocturnal Illumination’;
“`Small Arms for Counterguerrilla Operations’;
“`Tactical Nuclear Weapons–their Battlefield Utility’;
“`Chemical Control of Vegetation in Relation to Military Needs’;
“`Interdiction of Trucks from the Air at Night’;
“`Night Vision for Counterinsurgents’

and so on. IDA tests and develops weapons specifically for the terrains of Vietnam, Thailand, North-east India, and Latin America (Hearings, House Comm. on Appropriations, Defense Approp. Hearings for 1965, vol 14, p. 138). It goes without saying that for those engaged in the liberation struggle throughout the world, this new emphasis on counter-insurgency will have deadly consequences.

“IDA is also engaged in developing techniques for suppressing ghetto rebellions and other domestic insurgencies. In a report to the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, IDA researchers recommended explosively spread adhesives, spray mists, droplet projectors, foam generators, `super water pistols,’ and `tranquilizing darts, which have been used on wild animals’ (NY Times, Nov. 12, 1967).

“IDA depends on its university affiliations to attract top talent (see Business Week, Feb. 25, 1967, “Battle for Brainpower”). Without the prestige and assistance Columbia and its eleven other affiliates give IDA, the organization would be desanctified in the eyes of the academic community it exploits: it would appear to be just what it is–an academic service-station for America’s world-wide `company cops.’ Columbia’s disaffiliation would be a big blow to IDA’s legitimacy and to the whole military-academic alliance.”

NYU’s 21st-Century IDA Connection

Fifty years after Hamilton Hall was occupied, no Columbia administrator or trustee sits on either the Executive Committee or the board of trustees of the Pentagon’s IDA weapons research think-tank. But in 2018 the Director of NYU’s New Center for Urban Science and Progress, Steven Koonin, is a member of the IDA board of trustees.

Yet according to IDA’s website, IDA’s Systems Evaluations Division [SED]’s “research helps the Department of Defense and other government organizations develop, test, buy, or use systems” and “examples of systems include offensive or defensive weapons.” In addition, the research of IDA’s Systems Evaluations Division “occurs at the nexus between government decision-makers, military warfighters, and technical experts in industry, academia, and government laboratories.”

The weapons research think-tank, whose board of trustees include NYU’s New Center for Urban Science and Progress Director Koonin, also described on IDA’s website some of IDA’s recent SED weapons research projects: 

“The tactical aircraft (TACAIR) manned/unmanned mix in irregular warfare projectused data from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to examine the advantages and disadvantages of using different mixes of manned and unmanned tactical aircraft in irregular warfare campaigns.…

“The evaluation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) system performance projectused the IDA Sensing Effectiveness Evaluator (ISEE) model to simulate the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS-B) in different operational environments…

“The development and application of land warfare modeling and simulation tools project

The Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) analysis tools project

The circular error probable (CEP) calculations for precision-guided munitions projectinvestigated how the use of traditional statistical methods for estimating the accuracy of unguided (ballistic) munitions can lead to an overestimation of CEP when applied to precision-guided munitions….

“The tactical communications mobile ad hoc networking (MANET) projectevaluated the MANET performance of military communications system …

“The estimating test requirements from historical data projectused data from previous testing of large aircraft systems, air-launched weapons, helicopters, and ground vehicles to summarize the basic test parameters…

“Our tactical communications test and evaluation project monitors and assesses systems in development.  The Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) is the U.S. Army’s developmental networking software that aims to provide voice, data, and video capabilities to small combat units and unmanned systems….

“Air Warfare Combat Assessment Methodology Development – IDA assisted the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation, the Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team, and the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center with our assessments of the F-35 and F-22 aircraft in their intended combat environment….

“F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Developmental Testing In support of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Developmental Test and Evaluation) – IDA assessed progress in the developmental testing of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter…”

The same website also described the military purpose of IDA’s Joint Advanced Warfighting Division [JAWD] that focused “on the needs of the joint force commander and, in particular, the future joint force commander,” in the following way:

“Linking new concepts and new technologies to a military context; Moving from concept to reality in the military environment; Exploring military options through structural analysis…JAWD researchers’ exceptional blend of technical, analytic, and operational skills provide sponsors rigorous and structured analysis to explore military uses and the links between a new concept or technology and a military context and use (i.e., force and technology combinations specific to objectives and regions)….”

In addition, one major research task of IDA’s ITSD division is “responding to evolving technology and business practices and examining their impact on weapons systems,” according to the IDA website.

Sitting on IDA’s board of trustees with NYU New Center for Urban Science and Progress Director Koonin are former Pentagon officials or former U.S. military officers like the following folks:  former U.S. Secretary of the Army Preston Geren, III; former Commander, U.S. Central Command and retired General John Abizaid; former 33rd Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and retired General John Paxton; and former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff and retired General Norton Schwartz. 

In addition, besides including NYU’s New Center for Urban Science and Progress Director, IDA’s board of trustees has included the following other U.S. university-affiliated folks in recent years: UCLA Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Ann Karagozian;  California Institute of Technology Trustee Deborah Doyle McWhinney; University of California, San Diego Department of Medicine and Associate Vice Chancellor for Computational Health Sciences Jill Mesirov; University of Texas Computer Science and Integrative Biology Professor and former Los Alamos National Laboratory Deputy Laboratory Director for Science, Technology and Programs William Press; and University of Maryland Professor and former Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Ellen Williams.

Koonin was paid $15,500 between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016 by IDA weapons research think-tank for serving IDA as a university-affiliated trustee for two hours per week, according to the IDA’s Form 990 financial filing for 2015.

IDA’s Creation and 1956 -1959 Weapons Research Work

IDA “was formally incorporated on Apr. 4, 1956, as the Institute for Defense Analyses,” according to John Ponturo’s July 1979 de-classified IDA study S-507, titled “Analytical Support for the Joint Chiefs of Staff: The WSEG Experience, 1948-1976,” which provided a “review of the activities of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group [WSEG] in providing operational analyses and weapons systems evaluations to the Joint Chiefs of Staff [JCS] from 1948 to 1976.” As the de-classified 1979 IDA study noted, “IDA came into being with the immediate purpose of providing technical support for WSEG.” 

 The same de-classified IDA study also recalled:

“…DoD authorities who examined the contractual alternatives available for WSEG turned to university sponsorship as a means of lending scientific prestige to the enterprise, facilitating access to the scholarly research community, and promoting a working climate that would appeal to civilian research analysts. They persuaded Dr. James R. Killian, Jr., President of MIT…to take the lead in bringing together a consortium of leading universities to sponsor a nonprofit corporation to provide the necessary contractual support. The organization, formally incorporated as the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), was established in…1956 by five university members: the California Institute of Technology, Case Institute, MIT, Stanford University, .and Tulane… 

“….At the initial meeting in the Pentagon on Apr. 5, 1956, representatives of the 5 universities (including 2 of the university presidents in person) elected a 10- member board of trustees, all university officials, including 3 of the presidents, with Killian himself as Chairman….Once IDA was set up, Killian, in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, appealed to the Ford Foundation for initial working capital, and obtained a grant of $500,000 [equal to over $4.5 million in 2018]…”

Over three years after IDA was set up, an IDA Trustees Executive Committee Meeting was held at the MIT Faculty Club between 12:00 and 3:00 p.m., on Weds. Dec. 16, 1959. Among the 11 items discussed at this unpublicized meeting was the status of the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency [ARPA], the status of the Pentagon’s Weapons System Evaluation Group [WSEG], the “proposed Townes’ Group Contract,” and “new university members;” and “it was agreed that certain specific universities which were named and discussed, would be welcomed as additions to the present university Members.”

One of the universities “welcomed as additions to the present university Members” was Columbia University. Prior to Columbia being “welcomed” as an institutional member and sponsor of IDA weapons research, IDA had already worked with the WSEG to produce secret weapons research reports with subject titles like the following:

1. “Relative Military Advantage of Missiles and Manned Aircraft” (Report 23 of May 6, 1957);

2. “Utilization of Indigenous Forces” (Report 29 of Aug. 7, 1958);

3. “Interim Report, On The Need for Additional Emphasis On Certain Weapons Systems” (Report 30 of March 10, 1958);

4. “Reappraisal of Biological Warfare” and “Evaluation of Offensive and Defensive Weapons Systems” (Report 31 of July 15 and Aug. 15, 1958);

5. “Interim Report, Tactical Fire Support Systems for Land Forces in Limited War 1959-1967” (Report 32 of Feb. 5, 1958);

6. “Target Acquisition, Rapid Reaction and Weapons Problems in Tactical Fire Support (Report 32, Part W of July 3, 1958);

7. “Artillery and Surface-to-Surface Missiles for Tactical Fire-Support of Land Forces in Limited War (Report 32, Part II of Apr. 6, 1959);

8.  “Recognition and Location of Tactical Fire Support Targets in Limited War 1959-1963” (Report 32, Part III of Apr. 21, 1959);

9.  “Aircraft Characteristics Suited for the Mission of Non-Nuclear Daylight Visual Close Air Support Against Fleeting Targets of Opportunity in Limited War” (Report 32, Part IV of July 15, 1959);

10. “High-Yield Air-Delivered Nuclear Weapons” (Report 34 of Dec. 12, 1958);

11. “Evaluation of Military Applications of Nuclear-Powered Aircraft” (Report 37 of May 25, 1959);

12. “Military Applications of Artificial Earth Satellites” (Report 39 of June 23, 1959);

13. “Toxic Chemical Warfare—1959” (Report 40 of Aug. 14, 1959); and

14. “Evaluation of an Advanced Air-to-Surface Missile” (Report 44 of Sept. 18, 1959).

Columbia University’s 1959-1968 IDA Connection

Columbia University’s involvement with IDA had begun early in 1959. In a May 22, 1959 letter, for example, IDA’s then-Vice President and Director of Research Albert Hill wrote that Columbia University Life Trustee “Bill Burden will probably succeed Jim McCormack as Chairman of the Board of IDA, effective Tuesday May 26th” but “until you hear to the contrary, this is confidential.” A copy of a June 29, 1959 memo, which stated “that summer study groups are being set up every year to tackle particular problems of interest to the military,” from Stanford University’s representative on the IDA board of trustees, Fred Terman, to IDA Vice-President Hill was also sent to Columbia Trustee Burden in the summer of 1959.

Besides representing Columbia on IDA’s board of trustees, as “Chairman of the Board” of IDA, Burden also represented Columbia on IDA’s executive committee. IDA’s executive committee determined “the broad general policy of” IDA on behalf of the IDA board of trustees, according to a June 8, 1959 letter from then-IDA Vice-President Albert Hill to Dr. Marvin Stern of the General Dynamics weapons manufacturer.

That same year, Columbia University Professor of Physics Charles Townes moved to Washington, D.C. to replace Albert Hill as IDA’s Vice-President and Director of Research when Hill decided to return to MIT as a professor of physics. As former Columbia Professor Townes recalled in his 1995 book, Making Waves:

“…The proposed position for me was Vice President and Director of Research for the Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA]. The Institute was a non-profit `think-tank’ with a very important role, run by five or six prominent universities on the East Coast, Columbia University being one of them. It managed what was known as the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group. We had to pick the right people who would be responsible for analyzing how and whether a weapon worked and its effectiveness. We also advised a new organization, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, whose aim was to consider what could be done in space, and to help initiate new ideas and technologies of importance to national security…”

On Sept. 28 and Sept. 29, 1959, Townes, for example, attended an IDA meeting with then-CIA Deputy Director of Plans Richard Bissell Jr., another CIA official named RW Komer and then-MIT Professor Jerome Wiesner. Among the topics discussed at this Sept. 28-29, 1959 meeting were “Project Principia” weapons research for better chemical propellant, research related to U.S. military requirements in the field of human behavior and a proposal to set up an “Institute for Naval Studies” to examine “future possibilities in naval warfare.”

The de-classified 1979 IDA study noted that less than 4 months before Columbia was officially “welcomed” to become an institutional member of IDA, the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff [JCS] sent a Sept. 7, 1959 memo to the WSEG’s Director, which stated that “the JCS wanted WSEG to undertake two studies: (a) an evaluation of offensive weapons systems that might be utilized in a strategic role, particularly during the 1964-67 period; and (b) an evaluation of attack carrier striking forces and land-based tactical air forces under general and limited war situations from 1960 to 1967.”  According to the same de-classified 1979 IDA document, “both studies were undertaken as a matter of urgency and highest priority, and constituted the bulk of the WSED/IDA effort during the rest of 1959 and 1960.”

During the 1960 to late 1968 period when Columbia was an institutional member of IDA and JFK and LBJ both escalated the “limited war” in Vietnam, IDA continued to work with WSEG to produce classified weapons research reports with subject titles like the following:

1. “Evaluation of Attack Carrier Striking Forces and Land-Based Tactical Air Forces in Limited and General War, 1960-1963 (Report 48 of Aug. 15, 1960);

2.  “Evaluation of Strategic Offensive Weapons Systems” (Report 50 of Dec. 27, 1960);

3. “Nuclear Weapons Study” (Report 1 of Sept. 25, 1960);

4. “Future Developments in Carrier and Land-Based Tactical Air Forces” (Report 54 of July 19, 1962);

5. “Future Light Tactical Aircraft Weapons Systems for Close Air Support and Other missions, 1966-1972 Time Period” (Report 58 of Feb. 12, 1962);

6. “Missile Penetration Study” (Report 59—Study I of Jan. 29, 1962, Report 59—Supplement to Study I of May 29, 1962, Report 59—Study II of May 1963 and Report 59—Study III of March 1964);

7. “Terminal Vulnerability of Selected Tactical Aircraft to Anti-Aircraft Weapons” (Report 60 of March 28, 1962);

8. “Potential Military Applications of Offensive Weapons Systems in Space” (Report 66 of Apr. 1963);

9. “Allocation of Resources to Anti-submarine Warfare in the Face of Uncertainty” (Report 98 of May 1966);

10. “Tactical Aircraft vs. Surface-to-Air Missiles” (Report 70 of Feb. 1964);

11. “Study of Tactical Reconnaissance and Surveillance” (Report 86 of Sept. 1965);

12. “Preliminary Analyses of Combat Air Operations in Southeast Asia” (Report 90 of Nov. 1965);

13. “Interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail” (Report 103);

14. “Operational Reliability Test, M-16 A-1 Rifle System” (Report 124 of Feb. 1968);

15. “Analysis of Combat Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia,” (Report 190 of Feb. 1967 and Report 128 of Apr. 1968)

16. “Strategic Offensive Weapons Employment in the Presence of Defenses” (Report 132 of June 1968); and

17. “Strategic Offensive Weapons Employment in the Time Period About 1975” (Report 148 of Aug. 1968).

All of the secret weapons research project work done with the WSEG by IDA that produced these classified reports for the Pentagon were approved by the IDA Trustees Executive Committee–whose Chairman was Columbia Life Trustee William A.M. Burden. As page 89 of the Cox Commission’s Crisis At Columbia: Report of the Fact-Finding Commission Appointed to Investigate the Disturbances at Columbia University observed in late 1968, “…the Executive Committee, of which Mr. Burden was Chairman, approved all work conducted by IDA, including classified projects directly related to the prosecution of the Vietnam War.” 

Between 1960 and late 1968 Columbia’s then-president, Grayson Kirk, also represented Columbia on IDA’s board of trustees and served on the IDA Trustees Executive Committee with Columbia Trustee Burden. And as the North American Congress on Latin America [NACLA]’s 1968 pamphlet, Who Rules Columbia?, recalled:
“On March 30, 1967, IDA’s Vice-President and General Manager, Norman L. Christeller, told reporters from the Columbia Daily Spectator that `We consider Columbia to be one of the three or four primary university sponsors of the IDA. President Kirk has always been an active member of our board’…Columbia has, in fact, held contracts for IDA; in 1964, for instance, the Electrical Engineering Department received a contract from IDA worth $18,950 for a study of missile-tracking radar (the project was conducted by Herbert Dern of the ERL staff under IDA contract no. 50-13).”

According to a Dec. 11, 1948 Pentagon directive, “the purpose” of the WSEG, with which IDA staff produced its reports, was “to provide…analyses and evaluation of present and future weapons systems under probable future combat conditions” and to “make comprehensive analyses and evaluations of weapons and weapons systems under projected conditions of war at the request of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or the Research and Development Board.” Yet on Nov. 21, 1966 then-Columbia University President and IDA Executive Committee Member Grayson Kirk told a group of 300 to 500 antiwar students at Columbia during the Vietnam War Era:

“Whenever the University institutionally undertakes to espouse this or that position in a partisan situation, it jeopardizes the long-run autonomy which is the heart and soul of all University life.

“This in my judgment, is something that the University, no university must do, no university can do. And the university that undertakes to do this, to become a partisan active agent with respect to this or that facet of controversial foreign policy endangers those values that make our universities in a democratic society I suppose the most important agency in that society. And, if they are that important in these days, and I think they are, they are important simply because they have been able to maintain and hold to that degree this impartiality, with respect to contending public issues, that creates respect for the quality of discussion that goes on in the university.

“Therefore for all these reasons, it seems to me that it is not desirable, it is not feasible, it is not possible for the University to attempt to make a value judgment about any division of the federal government.”

Although Kirk claimed in 1966 that his University had not “become a partisan agent with respect to this or that facet of controversial foreign policy,” in Lt. General A.J. Goodpaster’s now-declassified Memo for Record regarding an Oct. 1963 “Meeting in Dep. Secretary Gilpatrick’s Office—WSEG/IDA Relationship,” the then-Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for example, wrote:

“The meeting was held in the office of the Deputy Sec Def, Mr. Roswell L. Gilpatrick. Attending was the Chairman of the JCS, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, the DDR & E Dr. Harold Brown, Lt. Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster, Assistant to the Chairman of the JCS; and, for the IDA trustees, Mr. William A.M. Burden, Chairman of the Board; James R. Killian, Jr. of MIT; and Grayson Kirk of Columbia University. The IDA trustees reviewed the history of the establishment of IDA and the background of some of the IDA/WSEG difficulties. The JCS Chairman emphasized the value of an effective working relationship between the WSEG [Weapons Systems Evaluation Group of the Pentagon] military element and WSED [Weapons Systems Evaluation Division of IDA]…”

IDA’s 1960-1968 Jason Division Weapons Research Work

When Columbia was an institutional member of IDA and Burden and Kirk sat on IDA’s Executive Committee approving Vietnam War-related weapons technology development and evaluation projects, IDA’s Advanced Research Project Division (later renamed Research and Engineering Support Division) and IDA’s Jason Division of U.S. university professors also performed weapons research for the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency [ARPA], that was later renamed “DARPA.” As the July 1979 de-classified IDA study recalled:

“ARPA…was formally established by DoD Directive on Feb. 7, 1958. ARPA provided the SecDef with his own operating arm in R&D…IDA entered into a separate DoD contract to support ARPA on March 15, 1958. The IDA professional staff members working with WSEG continued as before, designated as members of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Division of IDA, and a separate Advanced Research Projects Division was organized for ARPA…”

One of weapons research projects that ARPA worked on after “IDA entered into a separate DoD contract to support ARPA” in 1958 was a secret “anticrop warfare research” program that led to the development and spraying of poisonous Agent Orange in Vietnam during the 1960s. As Annie Jacobsen recalled in her 2015 book, The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency: 

“…The weapon would become known to the world as Agent Orange…Agent Orange was a hideous toxin…William Godel was in charge of running the program for ARPA.

“At Fort Detrick, in Maryland, ARPA ran a toxicology branch where it worked on chemical weapons-related programs…On July 17, 1961, Godel met with the Vietnam Task Force to brief its members on what was then a highly declassified defoliation program, and to discuss the next steps…The classified program would be called `anticrop warfare research.’…The first mission to spray herbicides on the jungles of Vietnam occurred on Aug. 10, 1961…The defoliation tests were closely watched at the Pentagon….On Nov. 30, 1961, President Kennedy approved the chemical defoliation program in Vietnam…Between 2.1 million and 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange…”

The Pentagon’s Brain book also described how IDA’s Jason Division of U.S. university professors was established and began to do weapons research for ARPA/DARPA around the same time that Columbia University became an institutional member of IDA:

“…Murph Goldberger had been a key player in Project 137 at Fort McNair. At the time he was working as a professor of physics at Princeton University…After Project 137 ended, Goldberger returned to Princeton, where he soon got an idea…Goldberger decided to run the idea by a…physicist Charles H. Townes…Townes had recently taken a leave of absence from his position as professor at Columbia University to serve as vice-president of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA),…In the early ARPA years, the salaries of ARPA directors and program managers were paid through IDA. Townes thought Goldberger’s idea of a defense consulting group was excellent…The group’s first meeting took place at IDA headquarters in Virginia on Dec. 17, 1959…Three weeks later, on Jan. 1, 1960…the group became an official entity…Over the course of the next 55 years, the Jason group would impact ARPA, and later DARPA, with greater significance than any other scientific advisory group. In April 1960, each member of Jason was granted a clearance of top secret or above…”

The same book recalled some of the weapons research technology development work that was done for ARPA/DARPA by IDA’s Jason division in the 1960s:

“…In the early 1960s, during the Vietnam War, DARPA began developing unmanned aerial drones. It took three decades to arm the first drone, which then appeared on the battlefield in Afghanistan in October 2001. By the time the public knew about drone warfare, U.S. drone technology had advanced by multiple generations…For the second summer study in 1961, the Jason scientists met in Maine, on the Bowdoin College campus…The scientists…considered another highly classified program. This one involved the concept of directed energy…Directed energy weapons were well worth research and developing, they decided, and ARPA moved forward with Project Seesaw—its first directed energy weapons program…

“…In the summer of 1964, ARPA asked the Jasons to conduct a formal study on Vietnam…This was not the first time the Jasons examined what Goldberger called `the Vietnam problem.’…The Jasons wrote a report titled `Working Paper on Internal Warfare.’ It has never been declassified but is referred to in an unclassified report for the Naval Air Development Center as involving a `tactical sensor system program.’ The information in this report—the Jasons’ seminal idea of using `tactical sensors’ on the battlefield in a counter-insurgency war—would soon become central to the war effort…

“The Jason scientists were expanding their work and commitment to the Vietnam War…ARPA doubled the Jasons’ annual budget, from $250,000 to $500,000, roughly $3.7 million in 2015…At least 3 studies the Jasons performed during this time remain classified as of 2015; they are believed to be titled `Working Paper on Internal Warfare, Vietnam,’ `Night Vision for Counter-insurgents,’ and `A Study of Data Related to Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Logistics and Manpower…’…” 

The U.S. university professors working as part-time consultants for IDA’s Jason Division also began developing the automated electronic battlefield weapons technology that was first utilized by the U.S. war machine in Indochina in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency noted:

“The electronic fence idea was born in the summer of 1966…The Defense Department was desperately seeking new ways to win the Vietnam War…The electronic fence had two faces, one public and one classified. The program that the public was told about was a physical fence or barrier that was being constructed by the Pentagon…But the secret fence the Jason scientists were to design required no soldiers to keep guard. Instead, high-technology sensors would be covertly implanted…

“The Jasons produced a classified study called `Air-Supported Infiltration Barrier’…The barrier would be constructed of the most advanced sensors available in the United States…Jason scientist [and Columbia University Professor and then-Director of Columbia’s IBM Watson Laboratory] Richard Garwin…held a seminar on the SADEYE cluster bomb and other munitions that would be most effective when accompanying the sensors…”

In a Dec. 11, 1963 letter to former IDA Vice President and Director of Research Albert Hill. Princeton University Professor John Wheeler had described the purpose of IDA’s “Project Jason” Division in the following way:
“Project Jason of the Institute for Defense Analyses has served as one mechanism to draw a new generation into defense issues. It has had the great advantage of making defense work seem to scientists not as a second rate activity, as it is often regarded in other countries, but as something deserving the attention of the very best minds.”
On Friday, Oct. 20, 1961 at 1710 H Street NW in Washington, D.C., for example, IDA’s Jason Division had held the initial session of its annual fall meeting; and at 9:00 a.m., Seymour Deitchman of IDA’s RESD Division had spoken and led a discussion about “Problems of Limited War.” Then, at 11:30 a.m., Dr. Michael May spoke and led a discussion about “Limited War Technology.” After a lunch break, the U.S. university professors who were members of the Jason Division then heard Richard DuBois of IDA’s Weapons Systems Evaluation Division speak and lead a discussion at 3:30 p.m. on “Carrier Tactical Forces Through 1963.”
The following morning at 9:00 a.m. on Sat., Oct. 21, 1961, Dr. M. Ruderman and Columbia University Professor of Physics Henry Foley, both members of the Jason Division, began the second day’s session of Jason’s annual Fall meeting by leading a discussion on “Midas.” Then at 1:00 p.m., former Columbia Professor of Physics Charles Townes led a discussion on “CORWA.” And the second day’s session ended with a 2:45 p.m. discussion led by Dr. Paul Hansen of IDA’s Weapons Systems Evaluation Group on the “Tactical Aircraft Penetration Study.”
IDA’s Jason Division also held a summer weapons research study session between June 14, 1965 and July 30, 1965 in Building N. 3614 at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts during the 1960s. Half of the Pentagon weapons researchers attending this summer Jason Division meeting were ARPA, RAND and IDA staff employees and half of the attendees were U.S. university professors who were Jason Division members. Besides former Columbia Professor Townes, the steering committee for the 1965 Jason summer study session included Columbia Professor of Physics Henry Foley, Columbia Professor of Physics Leon Lederman and Columbia Professor Richard Garwin, who also directed Columbia’s IBM Watson Laboratory between 1966 and 1968, when it was located at 612 W. 115th Street in Manhattan.

After it became evident to many U.S. academics that the Democratic Johnson Administration’s policy of escalating the Vietnam War in early 1965 by starting to bomb North Vietnam on a regular basis had failed to achieve a quick victory in Vietnam for the U.S. war machine, former Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs and then-Harvard University Graduate School of Public Administration Associate Dean Carl Kaysen had visited U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara at the Pentagon in late 1965. As Power and Promise: The Life and Times of Robert McNamara by Deborah Shapley recalled in 1993:
“McNamara was looking for `fresh’ ideas when he returned from Vietnam in November [1965 …Carl Kaysen, who had worked in John Kennedy’s White House…recalls visiting McNamara twice in December 1965 in his office….The plan for the barrier went forward in secret. Scientists in a secret group called the Jason Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses would bring in parallel studies to McNamara by the fall of 1966…”

On Ap. 15, 1966 MIT Professor of Physics J.R. Zacharias then mailed out the following invitation to at least one of the U.S. university professors who was a member of IDA’s Jason Division, along with a “partial proposed list” that included the names of former Columbia Professor Townes and then-Columbia professors Garwin, Lederman and I.I. Rabi:
“A group of us have been discussing with the Department of Defense the possibility of conducting a special study of the military and technological options open to the U.S. in Vietnam…. The Department of Defense has shown strong interest in our conducting such a study, and discussions with the Department are now under way… We are planning an exploratory discussion meeting of the group on Wednesday, May 4, at M.I.T. and would be very pleased if you could join us. The meeting will be held in the Penthouse of the M.I.T. Faculty Club, 50 Memorial Drive, at 9:00 a.m.
“I would appreciate your keeping information about this study confidential.”

The U.S. university professors who were “Jason-East Participants” were next sent a memorandum on Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] stationery from D.H. Gould of M.I.T. on June 3, 1966, on the subject “June Meetings” which stated:
“The two-week session will run from Monday, 13 June through Saturday, 25 June, at Dana Hall.

“Dana Hall is a girls’ school located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. We have obtained exclusive use of Johnston Hall, a quadrangle of new, air-conditioned dormitories, as well as the adjacent Library building…We have settled on a consulting fee of $150 [equal to over $1,100 in 2018] a day for those participants who are able to accept a fee….P.S. Dr. Zacharias enthusiastically recommends Malcolm Browne’s book, “The New Face of War”. 
Prior to arriving at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts for IDA’s June 1966 Jason Division summer study, the U.S. university professors were also issued a document, titled “Institute for Defense Analyses, Project Jason East 1966: Standard Practices and Procedures for Security”, which stated:

“…Jason East Project members and IDA employees have been granted Top Secret security clearances…Guards will be on duty at the open entrance to the project building on a 24 hour per day, 7 days per week basis…As a General Statement, the importance of complete control of all classified material cannot be overemphasized…”

The 1966 Jason East Summer Study in Wellesley, Massachusetts began at 10:30 a.m. on Mon., June 13, 1966 with a talk by Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton on the “Framework” for the two-week summer meeting. After a 1 p.m. lunch break, C. Thomsson of RAND, G. Parker of RAND, G. Tanham of RAND and George Carver of the CIA led a discussion on “General Background, South and North Vietnam,” between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Following refreshments at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m., an evening session was held in which the three RAND representatives and the CIA representative continued the afternoon session’s discussion of “General Background, South and North Vietnam.”

The following morning at 9 a.m. on Tues., June 14, 1966, the Director of the Pentagon’s Research and Development, John Foster, and the Pentagon’s Assistant Director of Tactical Warfare Programs, Leonard Sullivan, led a discussion on “Research & Development,” before breaking for lunch at 12:30 p.m. The next day, at 9:30 a.m. on Weds., June 15, 1966, the Assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Lt. General A.J. Goodpaster, led a discussion with the U.S. university professors who were members of IDA’s Jason Division on “Military Operations,” before again breaking for lunch at 12:30 p.m. The discussion of “Military Operations” continued after lunch at 2 p.m. But the afternoon session’s discussion on June 15, 1966 was led by the Assistant Commander for the U.S. Marine Corps, Lt. General Richard Mangrum.
The next day began with a talk, at 9 a.m. on Thurs., June 16, 1966, by General Harold K. Johnson, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, who also spoke on the topic of “Military Operations.” After a 12:30 lunch break, the discussion on “Military Operations” that General Johnson was leading resumed at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. Following a 6:30 pm dinner break, the U.S. university professors were then addressed at 8 p.m. by the U.S. Department of State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary and Vietnam Coordinating Commission Chairman Leonard Unger on the topic “Political Framework.”
The following morning, at 9 a.m. on Fri., June 17, 1966, Colonel Cutler of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) led a discussion on “North Vietnam and Related Subjects,” until the lunch break. When the Jason Division professors reconvened at 2 p.m., the discussion about “North Vietnam and Related Subjects” was continued, although the afternoon discussion was now led by either George Carver of the CIA or Peer de Silva of the CIA. On Sat., June 18, 1966 at 9 a.m., the Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development [A.I.D.], Rutherford Ponts, also led a discussion on “Pacification.”

There was no formal schedule of lectures during the second week of the 1966 Jason Summer Study meeting at Wellesley, Massachusetts. But at 2 p.m. on Mon., June 20, 1966, a general who was the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force led a discussion on “Military Operations;” and at 9 a.m. on Tues., June 21, 1966, the Vice-Chair of U.S. Naval Operations, Admiral Horacio Rivero also spoke on “Military Operations” when the U.S. professors reconvened. In addition, during the second week of the 1966 gathering of IDA Jason Division members in Wellesley, Johnson Administration national security affairs adviser McGeorge Bundy, CIA official Komer and IDA President Maxwell Taylor were all scheduled to speak to the U.S. university professors at evening sessions.

At this June 13 to June 25, 1966 Jason Summer Study, the U.S. university scientists more concretely developed the concept of the electronic battlefield. As The Jasons book by Ann Finkbeiner noted in 2002:
“The scientists sat around a table on the grounds, `one fine afternoon,’ said Seymour Deitchman, an IDA engineer with experience in Vietnam who was working with Jason; they talked about sensors and aircraft and electronics and `sketched out the general outlines of an electronic barrier system.’…What is clear is that the…Jason study on the sensor barrier became the prototype for the modern electronic battlefield and arguably changed the way war is waged…”
The 1985 book Heavy Losses by James Coates and Michael Kilian also observed:
“…The group became the driving force involved with a number of controversial research projects during the Vietnam War…The Jasons…advocated…using some fiendishly deadly new antipersonnel weapons…The Jasons dreamed up an arsenal of fantastic new killer weapons every bit as horrible as anything ever created by the Pentagon research and engineering section…At that meeting and in successive conferences, the Jasons developed a plan for sowing sensors and deadly `bomblets’ across a strip of Vietnam eighty miles long and fifteen miles wide. A similar strip would be laid out along the border between Vietnam and Laos.”

After its June 1966 Wellesley, Massachusetts summer study, the IDA’s Jason Division held a follow-up weapons development research study session in Santa Barbara, California in July and August of 1966. During this “Jason Division West” summer study meeting in Santa Barbara, Columbia Professor Henry Foley was assigned Room 8229 and Columbia Professor and Director of Columbia’s Nevis Labs Leon Lederman was assigned Room 8323 of a college dormitory in which to live and work.
As The Jasons by Ann Finkbeiner revealed, “they met off the Pacific coast, at the University of Santa Barbara, on the upper floor of a dormitory.” The Jasons also revealed that during the summer of 1966, “Val Fitch and Leon Lederman designed what they called pencil mines: little projectiles that looked like ballpoint pens…”

According to an Aug. 1, 1966 list of “Jason East Participants,” Columbia Professor Leon Lederman also attended the July-August “special project” follow-up session on the East Coast in 1966, as did Columbia Professor I.I. Rabi and Columbia Professor and IBM Watson Laboratory Director Richard Garwin. Nineteen scientists or executives from IDA (including twelve IDA Weapons Systems Evaluation Division staff members), twenty-nine U.S. professors from universities other than Columbia, two colonels from then-Secretary of Defense McNamara’s office, a scientist from Fort Monmouth and ten scientists from firms like GE, Bell Telephone Labs, IBM and Sylvania were also included on the Aug. 1, 1966 list of “Jason East Participants.” 

According to The Jasons by Ann Finkbeiner, by early August the Jason East group apparently had completed its report that designed “specific types of mines and bombs” and “suggested the aircraft appropriate for dropping, orbiting and striking” and some in the group again met at Dana Hall Girls School in Wellesley, Massachusetts on Aug. 15, 1966. Then, on Aug. 30, 1966, “Nierenberg, Deitchman, Kistiakowsky, Ruina, Jerome Wiesner and Jerrold Zacharias met with Robert McNamara and presented their report,” according to the same book. In their 1987 book Vietnam On Trial: Westmoreland vs. CBS, Bob Brewin and Sydney Shaw observed that “the IDA’s Jason division…proposed that vehicular traffic detected by the sensors should be attacked with SADEYE-BCU26B cluster bombs” in this report.

By 1968, the electronic battlefield technology that IDA’s Jason Division had developed was being used in South Vietnam in the Battle of Khe Sanh. And, on Sat. Feb. 3, 1968, Columbia Professor and Director of Columbia’s Watson IBM Labs Richard Garwin “traveled to Vietnam” with MIT Professor Henry Kendall and several other scientists “to check on the operation of the electronic barrier,” according to The Jasons by Ann Finkbeiner. The same book also observed:
“The sensors allowed such accurate detection of the enemy at night, in fog, behind hills, and in the jungle, that attacks on the enemy could be remote—that is, only artillery or air strikes—and would need no soldiers.
“…The electronic barrier turned into the electronic battlefield, the modern method for carrying out nonnuclear warfare, in particular on the urban battlefield…The relay to which the sensor talks is now a UAV, an unmanned aerial vehicle like the Predator or the Global Hawk, used in both Gulf wars and in Afghanistan…The responders are now bombs that are guided by lasers…”

Thousands of Indochinese civilians may have been killed as a direct result of the weapons technology development war research work that was done by IDA and its Jason Division during the period when Columbia was an institutional member of IDA. As the book The Air War In Indochina by Cornell University’s Air War Study Group revealed in 1972:
“The figures show that during the intense phase of the North Vietnam bombing, 100,000 to 200,000 tons of munitions per year were dropped. This bombing inflicted 25,000 to 50,000 casualties per year, 80 percent of whom were civilians…Indochina…has…become the laboratory for the evolution of the electronic battlefield…For the period from 1965 to April 1971, the estimate of civilian casualties in South Vietnam is 1,050,000 including 325,000 deaths…
“…Special electronic techniques for improving nighttime interdiction has been under development by the U.S. Air Force through a project named IGLOO WHITE. Initial operation of some of the components began in December 1967, and since that time a whole family of electronic devices has come into being…Sensors are implanted on the ground or suspended in the foliage by air drop…Aircraft overhead receive electronic messages from them and relay the information to a central computer control station. Strike aircraft are then directed to the designated area…American scientists and engineers—civilians as well as those working for the Department of Defense—have been deeply involved in the development of the electronic battlefield.”
Neither the Columbia University Administration nor the Pentagon has ever released much information on the number of Indochinese civilians who were killed or wounded as a direct result of the IDA and Jason Division weapons research work that Columbia University institutionally-sponsored in the 1960s. But at least 250,000 Indochinese civilians apparently lived near the “Ho Chi Minh Trail” area that the electronic battlefield initially targeted in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

IDA’s 1969-1979 Weapons Research Work

A few months after the April and May 1968 antiwar and antiracist Columbia and Barnard student rebellion, Columbia’s president no longer sat on IDA’s board of trustees or Executive Committee; and Columbia was no longer an institutional member of IDA. But Columbia Life Trustee William A.M. Burden continued to sit on the IDA board of trustees during the 1970s; and IDA continued to work with the Pentagon’s WSEG to produce classified weapons research reports with subject titles like the following:

1. “Air-to-Air Encounters in Southeast Asia” (Report 116 of February 1969);

2. “Progress Indicators for the Conflict in Southeast Asia” (Report 130 of May 1969);

3. “An Indicator System for the Conflict in Southeast Asia” (Report 143 of April 1969);

4. “Antisubmarine Warfare Weapons Systems Study (Report 168 of August 1971);

5. “Vector-0 Battle Model Prototype” (Report 222 of December 1973);

6. “Main Battle Tank Study” (Report 248 of October 1974);

7. “Vector-2 Theater Battle Model” (Report 251 of October 1974);

8. “Operational Test and Evaluation of Tactical Radar, Bombing Results” (Report 253 of November 1974);

9. “Proposed Methodology for Eliminating the Vulnerability of Tactical Aircraft to Non-Nuclear Threats” (Report 252 of January 1975);

10. “Near-Term Alternatives for the Main Battle Tank—A Comparative Evaluation of Vulnerability, Lethality, and Effectiveness in Small Unit Tank Engagements” (Report 285 of February 1976);

11. “Electronic Warfare Joint Test and Evaluation: Evaluation of the Relative Effectiveness of Electronic Warfare Mixes Used in the Electronic Warfare Joint Test” (Report 288 of March 1976); and

12. “Design Definition for a Joint Operation Test and Evaluation of Close Air Support During Electronic Warfare” (Report 296 of October 1976).

In addition, some U.S. university professors continued be involved in IDA’s continued weapons research development work for the Pentagon. As page 174 of The Superwarriors: The Fantastic World of Pentagon Superweapons by James Canan observed:

  “Student uprisings against the Vietnam War, the draft and all things military or quasi-military had strained and, in some cases, ruptured the ties of the think-tanks with the nation’s universities. They had depended on the universities for faculty guidance and participation, for facilities and for free-flowing intellectual exchange…One of the sufferers had been the Institute for Defense Analyses, the think-tank at the disposal of the Secretary of Defense himself, and of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, working hand in glove with the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency…There were signs in the mid-seventies, however, that it was making a bit of a comeback…Even though IDA had lost its official claim on the consortium of 12 universities which had founded and fed it in years long gone by, it still was drawing on their resident brains in an unofficial, informal—even sub rosa-fashion.”

IDA’s 1990s Weapons Research Work
In the early 1990s the current Director of NYU’s New Center for Urban Science and Progress, Steven Koonin, was not yet a member of the IDA board of trustees. But a member of the board of trustees of New York City’s Con Edison public utility company, a former Deputy Under-secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at the Pentagon between 1979 and 1981 named Ruth Davis, however, was then also an IDA Trustee in 1991. So in a 1991 telephone interview, the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly newspaper, Downtown, asked IDA’s then Vice-President of Administration and Finance, Ruth Greenstein, to describe the kind of work IDA was doing for the Pentagon during the 1990s and Greenstein replied:
“We do a range of both policy analysis and basic research to sharpen Defense Department capabilities. We are involved in evaluating major weapons systems like the B-1 bomber and assessing new technologies and engaging in fundamental research.”
When Downtown asked her if any of IDA’s research proved relevant during the 1991 Gulf War, Greenstein noted that IDA also engaged in “quick response” military research for the Pentagon in the 1990s.

IDA’s 21st-Century Weapons Research Work

In the 21st-century, IDA has continued to develop new weapons technology and evaluate weapons systems for the Pentagon’s “permanent war machine.” According to IDA’s website during the first decade of the 21st-century, for example, IDA’s Joint Advanced Warfighting Program (JAWP) was serving as a catalyst for developing breakthrough improvements in military capabilities,” “helping to conceptualize and develop new warfighting concepts and capabilities” and preparing “for implementations of the new warfighting concepts and capabilities.” In addition, on its web site IDA also revealed that after the Pentagon “lost about 100 helicopters from fall 2001 to spring 2005” in Afghanistan and Iraq, it “asked IDA to examine available data and records to identify why the helicopters were lost and to develop options for reducing future losses.”
IDA researchers found that “about one-third” of Pentagon helicopter losses in Afghanistan and Iraq “were due to engagements by enemy forces, which primarily used shoulder-fired missiles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and small arms.” So IDA’s weapons research study then “identified several options” for the Pentagon “to improve rotorcraft survivability” in U.S. military-occupied Iraq, “including: enhancing the onboard countermeasures suite to counter shoulder-fired missiles; modifying tactics and procedures to minimize exposure to RPGs and small arms;” and “developing a lightweight sensor package integrated with software-based terrain avoidance to improve aircrew performance in degraded environments.”

The weapons research think-tank, on whose board of trustees NYU’s NYU’s New Center for Urban Science and Progress Director Steven Koonin currently sits, was also developing, in the early 21st-century the weapons technology that the U.S. war machine required to wage urban warfare in places like Baghdad, Iraq more effectively. As the IDA noted on its website during the first decade of the 21st century:
“U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) asked IDA to provide technical assistance as a follow-on to the Urban Resolve Phase I experiment conducted in 2004. This new work focused on improving current joint operations in an urban environment.

“Our researchers designed and conducted the 2005 experiment to identify and evaluate potential near-term improvements in command and control, sensors, and intelligence to support operations in Baghdad. In the process, IDA helped JFCOM develop an advanced synthetic experimentation environment to explore current issues in simulation.

“In addition, JFCOM initiated the Urban Resolve 2015 Experiment, which will build on the 2005 environment to identify more effective concepts for future stability operations than those currently available for Iraq and Afghanistan. IDA participated in a series of workshops that defined the kinds of information needed to attack insurgent networks, the most effective means for obtaining that information, and the details needed to incorporate these concepts into supporting models used to execute the event.
“We developed a concept involving tags and unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with advanced sensors that blends both human and technical means for detecting insurgent activities, tracking their vehicles and personnel, and locating their facilities. Tag and sensor models were developed to take advantage of the existing JFCOM simulation suite in order to bring the concepts to life in the Urban Resolve 2015 human-in-the-loop simulation. The goal is to refine and quantify the battlefield utility of these and other concepts, providing a guide for the DoD science and technology community that will lead to advanced concept technology demonstrations and transition to field operations.”

IDA’s website also described how IDA’s Studies and Analyses Center conducted weapons research studies for the Pentagon’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the area of irregular warfare planning and experimentation during the first decade of the 21st-century:
“Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have produced most of the recent battle casualties among U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq… In 2005, the Joint IED-Defeat Task Force asked IDA to review existing DoD organizations and processes established to defeat the IED threat and to identify opportunities for improvement.
“IDA formed a team of more than 30 researchers from six research divisions, including the military component of IDA’s Joint Advanced Warfighting Program (JAWP). The study’s main source of information was the IED-Defeat community itself – from soldiers and Marines in the field to home-based organizations supporting their efforts.
“The team formed task groups that focused on functional dimensions of the IED challenge. JAWP’s senior military officer led a team of military and civilian analysts in Iraq for five weeks that collected warfighters’ perspectives throughout the region, ranging from headquarters to combat patrols. A complementary effort in the United States visited training installations and gathered insights from recently returned veterans. Other teams addressed the following: the adequacy of IED training programs; the intelligence community’s support to the warfighter; the process for identifying, developing, and rapidly fielding new counter-IED technologies; the process for developing and disseminating new IED-defeat tactics; the process for tracking and analyzing operational performance in order to gauge progress and determine the effectiveness of tactics or technologies; and DoD’s capacity to integrate these elements into a coordinated and responsive program.
“In each area, teams made recommendations, which DoD is considering as it refines its approach to defeating the IED threat.”

As the Los Angeles Times observed in an August 15, 2004 article:
“During the U.S.-led attack on Iraq, the Institute for Defense Analyses provided senior Pentagon officials with assessments of the operation.
“Staff members from the institute formed part of an 18-member civilian analysis team working from the Joint Warfighting Center in Virginia.
“The operation was described in a June 3, 2003, briefing by Brigadier General Robert W. Cone of the Army. `This team did business’ within the Army Central Command `on a daily basis, by observing meeting and planning sessions, attending command updates, watching key decisions being made, watching problems being solved, and generally being provided unrestricted access to the business of the conduct of this war,’ Cone said, according to a transcript of the session.”

IDA’s website also notes that the Defense Science Study Group [DSSG], “a program…that introduces… science and engineering professors to the United States’ security challenges and encourages them to apply their talents to these issues” was begun in 1986” and is directed by IDA. The IDA website’s description of IDA’s Defense Science Study Group program indicates how the program helps the Trump administration recruit current and future weapons development researchers for the U.S. permanent war machine: 

“IDA solicits nominations from senior leaders within major universities and from DSSG mentors, advisors, alumni, and current members. Because participation in the DSSG requires acquisition of a security clearance, all members must be U.S. citizens…. …

“Each group meets for two years for approximately 20 days per year, divided into two week-long sessions each summer and two three-day sessions each academic year. During these eight sessions, members focus on defense policy, related research and development, and the systems, missions, and operations of the armed forces and the intelligence community.

“The first session, held at IDA’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, provides members with an overview of the DSSG program. Prominent individuals from the defense and national security arenas, IDA researchers, DSSG mentors, and alumni introduce new members to the defense establishment, the current national security environment, and the role science and technology plays in that environment. Members also visit the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center, are briefed by such senior Pentagon officials as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and meet with national security professionals within the Executive Office of the President.

“The second session includes members’ first foray into “the field.” Members visit Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Joint Command facilities on the East Coast. Previous classes have met with senior military officers from the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, Marine Forces Atlantic, and special operations teams. They have also toured aircraft carriers, AEGIS-equipped destroyers, and tactical submarines. In addition, this session has included visits to the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and has ended with a tour of a Trident submarine base in Georgia.

“The third session focuses on Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force installations and defense industry facility tours on the West Coast and in the Midwest. Members again fly via military aircraft. Past trips have included visits to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman facilities; Fort Lewis; Edwards, Peterson, Offutt, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Bases; Fort Irwin National Training Center; Third Fleet, and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.

“The fourth session includes visits to intelligence agencies in the Washington, DC, area…. During the fifth session, also held in the Washington, DC area, members discuss their initial ideas for research `think pieces’…In the sixth session, DSSG members tour national laboratories. In 2013, DSSG members visited the Air Force Research Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

“In the seventh session, members take advantage of the resources available to them at IDA and visit defense and Government offices in the Washington DC area to advance their research. They also visit additional defense related laboratories such as the Naval Research Laboratory and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

“During the eighth and concluding session of the program, members present the results of their `think pieces.’…” 

Ending NYU’s Pentagon-IDA Connection In 2018

If you think it’s morally appropriate for science to be used to develop more effective urban warfare weapons technology for the Trump administration’s war machine, then you probably don’t think it’s morally wrong for the Director of NYU’s New Center for Urban Science and Progress to be also sitting on the Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] board of trustees in 2018.

But if you think—like most antiwar Barnard College and Columbia University students did 50 years ago—that neither university administrators nor university professors in New York City should be helping to develop more deadly weapons for the U.S. permanent war machine, then you probably understand why it’s morally right for antiwar NYU students and faculty members to now demand that NYU New Center for Urban Science and Progress Steven Koonin resign from IDA’s board of trustees in 2018.

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