Technology’s Unrealistic Promise

The U.S. Army in the 1950s and Technological Determinism

In: Vulcan
Gates M. Brown U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027, USA,

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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.

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