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  • Letters to the Editor
  • Seymour Deitchman

We are always pleased to have letters to the editor because this shows that people are reading our Journal seriously. However, due to space limitations, we ask that letters be kept under 500 words.

To the Editor:

In my July 2008 article in the JMH on “The ‘Electronic Battlefield’ in the Vietnam War,” I noted that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara “expressed strong interest in [the Barrier concept], saying it offered a significant change from the bombing campaigns that were apparently not hampering enemy activity in supporting the war in the South [of Vietnam]….[and that although the JASON group of scientists and I told him that there was only a 1 in 20 chance of it working he] decided that the potential gain was worth the risk and the system should be implemented.”

McNamara’s actual comment was more pithy than that. I didn’t feel that it would be appropriate to quote him in the article while he was alive so I skirted around it in the narrative above, but now that he has passed on I feel free to quote him directly. He had said to us (the JASONS and me) when we presented our report to him, that “I’ve been spending hundreds of millions of dollars for R&D on all-weather bombing and we get a thunderstorm over Hanoi and we can’t hit a thing. Time to try something else.” That frustration was what led him to request the study in the first place. [End Page 1415]

Seymour Deitchman
Chevy Chase, Maryland