Wotan's Workshop: Military Experiments Before the Second World War
Center for Naval Analyses Alexandria United States
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Over the last few years, military experimentation has attained unprecedented salience. The Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Congress have all called for increased efforts in military experimentation 1.Because this support is relatively new, military experimentation is in the anomalous position of being popular, yet unfamiliar. The resulting lack of understanding of the nature of military experimentation has acted to the detriment of the various efforts now ongoing at the Service and Joint levels. The outward resemblance of military experiments to the more familiar exercises and field tests, and the outward resemblance of the experiments technology surrogates to prototypes, have only served to deepen the misunderstanding. An attempt to better understand military experimentation by detailed examination of some of todays efforts would be hampered by the need for a considerable background in the technologies that the experiments address. There is also room for concern that discussion of present-day efforts would be seen primarily as praise or criticism of the particular efforts, and thereby rendered useless as a vehicle for discussion of experimentation itself.