Casting Net Assessment: Andrew W. Marshall and the Epistemic Community of the Cold War
Air University School of Advanced Air and Space Studies Maxwell AFB United States
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Andrew Marshall devoted his considerable intellectual talents and the entirety of his long adult life to help protect and further Americas national interests. Yet he remains an enigma to all but his closest associates. To date, no one has published a book-length biographical account of Americas longest serving defense intellectual. Unless his story is captured, Marshall is at risk of becoming the Fox Conner of his generation a man who profoundly influenced a generation of thinkers, yet is largely forgotten by history. This thesis effort is an attempt to negate that risk by answering the central and compelling question who is Andy MarshallMarshalls extensive professional career began at RAND in 1949, where he contributed to the creation of a community of civilian defense strategists attempting to divine changes to the very nature of warfare in the new atomic age. After a brief sojourn working for Henry Kissinger on the National Security Council in the early 1970s, he moved to the Department of Defense and has served as the sole Director of the Office of Net Assessment ONA since October 1973. In government service, Marshall has projected and sustained influence in defense policy circles while serving eight presidents and twelve defense secretaries.2By the time he entered civil service, most of Marshalls formative ideas about the practice of net assessment and his unique understanding of organizational behavior had emerged. Instinctively multi-disciplinary, Marshall accrued a multitude of ostensibly different analytic lenses. These lenses, layered upon one another, provided him a kaleidoscopic view and masterful understanding of strategy. Thus, to understand Marshalls unique perspective on the process of net assessment, one is best served by studying the evolution of his thought prior to the establishment of ONA.