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The Laird-Packard Way: Unpacking Defense Acquisition Policy


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Within liberal democracies, the weapons soldiers carry into battle determines the fate of nations, but the resources needed to build specific weapons must be allocated by elected representatives of the people years or even decades before a war or conflict begins. Therefore, to increase the odds of victory in future war, it is the responsibility of senior military leaders to learn how to fight two different types of battles, both on the battlefield (the art of waging war itself) and the battle that occurs within the realm of defense acquisition (the battle before the battle). This research intends to focus on the latter form of battlethe battles that occur within the realm of defense acquisition. This paper contends that the study of David Packard, the co-founder of electronics firm giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) and one of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley, is essential for those who seek to understand better the realm of defense acquisition (the battles before the battle). David Packard served as deputy secretary of defense between January 1969 and December 1971, significantly influencing modern defense acquisition policy and playing a critical role in the birth of fourth-generation airpower. This research focuses on the lessons learned from Packards experience, some developmental programs in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the impact of those programs on Packards acquisition reform movement.



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