The Origins of the Rand Corporation

Much mystery and many conspiracy theories swirl around the RAND Corporation. RAND stands for "Research and Development". It was originally founded by several leading lights in the United States Air Force, General Hap Arnold and General Curtis LeMay, in conjunction with scientists and engineers in the civilian world. It got going in 1945 after the close of World War II when Arnold, LeMay, and Franklin R. Collbohm (who worked for Douglas Aircraft) made it a subdivision of Douglas.

These men had all been intimately involved in air campaigns that were decisive factors in World War II. Arnold and LeMay at least were strong advocates of strategic bombing. Many of the inventions that had made U.S. superiority overwhelming for the Axis powers was the rapid ability of the United States to marshall its scientists and engineers to create new weapons and other military hardware. Innovations durring the Second World War included the radar, bomb sites, rocketry (by the Germans) and most impressively, the atom bomb, among inumerable others. General Arnold, especially, felt that in order for the United States to stay ahead of potential enemies that the powerful relationships the war had fostered between the military, scientists, engineers, and industry must continue.

To facilitate this the RAND Corporation was set up to be a think tank to investigate weapons, tactics, and all manner of ideas that could make the U.S. military, particularly the Air Force, consistently the most effective in the world.

RAND was originally housed in a Douglas plant in Santa Monica, and its first assignment was to look into the possibility and feasability of launching a satellite. Many of its early projects were exercises in applying known technologies. But soon RAND would move into "scientific theory and structure"1. In 1948 Rand was incorporated, and became a separate entity from Douglas Aircraft.

During these years, with the influx of money from the Air Force and Funding by the Ford Foundation RAND grew by leaps and bounds. It collected some of the very bright minds, attracted by its collegial work ethic, and its reputation as an employer of the "best and the brightest". Its structure allowed it to take a dispassionate view of problems facing the United States using a technique which came to be known as systems analysis. Yet, some within the organization feared that the human factor was being ignored. Thus various departments were set up in a campus-like environment which included studies in the social sciences which delved into the rather vague field of human behavior.

After becoming a non-profit corporation RAND began to expand its contacts and influence. Soon it would be taking contracts from more than just the Air Force, and would eventually be influential in the realm of foreign policy as well.

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  1. Soldiers of Reason, by Alex Abella, Harcourt, 2008, p23 >Available at Amazon

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