Article ID: CBB875270366

Technology’s Unrealistic Promise: The US Army in the 1950s and Technological Determinism (December 2019)


U.S. Army leaders in the 1950s, such as Generals Matthew Ridgway and Maxwell Taylor, looked to technology to improve the Army’s position under President Dwight Eisenhower’s New Look defense policy. The U.S. Army invested more in its missile program in the later part of the 1950s than all other munitions combined. U.S. Army leaders sought to show that through technical triumphs and organizational changes that the U.S. ground force was still relevant in the atomic age. However, their reliance on technical success did not consider the policy and economic constraints of the New Look defense policy. Technological success alone could not overcome these limits. Military technology exists in a richer political and social context, and U.S. Army leaders’ efforts to rely on technological success to overcome the limits of their context failed to directly address the political and economic realities of the New Look defense policy.

Includes Series Articles

Article Zimmerman, David (December 2019) Neither Catapults nor Atomic Bombs: Technological Determinism and Military History from a Post-Industrial Revolution Perspective. Vulcan (pp. 45-61). unapi

Article Goodman, Seymour E. (December 2019) Deploying Technological Innovation in “Real Time”: Union and Confederate Ironclads. Vulcan (pp. 81-110). unapi

Article Walton, Steven A. (December 2019) Technological Determinism(s) and the Study of War. Vulcan (pp. 4-18). unapi

Included in

Article DeVries, Kelly R. (December 2019) Catapults Still Aren’t Atomic Bombs: Effectiveness and Determinism in Premodern Military Technology. Vulcan (pp. 34-44). unapi

Article Roland, Alex (December 2019) Is Military Technology Deterministic?. Vulcan (pp. 19-33). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Schweber, Silvan Sam
Zaloga, Steve
Adamskii, V. B.
Goncharov, G. A.
Trutnev, Iu. A.
Klishin, V.
Air Power History
Technology and Culture
History and Technology
Canadian Military History
Cold War History
Princeton University Press
Smithsonian Institution Press
University of Washington Press
Prometheus Books
Center of Military History, United States Army
Military technology
Nuclear weapons; atomic weapons
Science and war; science and the military
Technology and war; technology and the military
Atomic, nuclear, and particle physics
Technology and politics
Oppenheimer, J. Robert
Bethe, Hans Albrecht
Teller, Edward
Xiaoping, Deng
Aiping, Zhang
Presley, Elvis
Time Periods
20th century
21st century
19th century
United States
Soviet Union
Great Britain
Alaska (U.S.)
North America: United States; Canada
United States. Army
Great Britain. Army
Strategic Defense Initiative

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