Pyramid Comment

This journal takes an alternative view on current affairs and other subjects. The approach is likely to be contentious and is arguably speculative. The content of any article is also a reminder of the status of those affairs at that date. All comments have been disabled. Any and all unsolicited or unauthorised links are absolutely disavowed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The RAND Corporation. A Profile

RAND: Research and Development

The Research ANd Development (or Research And No Development) mission claim:

  • The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis.
[RAND]... is arguably the grandest experiment ever undertaken to test the idea that mankind's most pressing problems can be solved. LA Times, 13th April, 2005

  • For nearly 60 years, decision makers in the public and private sectors have turned to the RAND Corporation for objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the nation and the world. These challenges include such critical social and economic issues as education, poverty, crime, and the environment, as well as a range of national security issues.
  • RAND researchers and analysts continue to be on the cutting edge of their fields, working with decision makers in both the public and private sectors to find solutions to today's difficult, sensitive, and important problems. The high calibre of our researchers is well-known, as evidenced by the many Nobel Laureates who have been affiliated with RAND, either as employees, consultants, or in an advisory capacity.
  • Through our dedication to high-quality and objective research and analysis and with sophisticated analytical tools developed over many years, RAND engages clients to create knowledge, insight, information, options, and solutions that will be both effective and enduring.
The RAND Corporation And Drugs

The text below is based on an paper by Virginia Campbell and sets the scene. The RAND Corporation is structured to produce ideas, but not finance them. This is the problem faced by the sponsors that are mostly, but not exclusively, organisations with military interests. Financing concepts can get very expensive. The jury is still out regarding the Apollo series of alleged visits to the Moon. Werner von Braun and the development of rocket systems made progress from Nazi Germany in World War II to America shortly afterwards. Regardless of the truth it was a very, very expensive operation financed by the American taxpayer. Any modern-day speculation about reaching Mars will cost $trillions and with computer graphics it will be virtually impossible to detect a hoax. Hoax was never the correct term for this (allegedly) attempted method of finance. Similar arguments (in principle) concerning climate change, and the expensive rainbow-chasing now being perpetrated, exist today.

How RAND Invented the Postwar World

This involves centralised, decentralised and distributed networks or separate groups within a hub performing independent activities, but all forming a cohesive whole. A hive that houses the colony. Military organisations have an emphasis on hierarchy, discipline and protocol and are the least likely to provide the necessary freedom to carry out advanced research in areas involving satellites, systems analysis and the internet: almost all the defining features of the information age.

During World War II, the Commanding General of the US Army Air Forces, H.H. ("Hap") Arnold, recognised that engineers and scientists created key inventions (radar, the proximity fuse, the atomic bomb). In 1945, he founded Project RAND from $10,000 of funding leftover from World War II, which later became the RAND Corporation, a think-tank for military strategy. Research and development would be more important in the battles of the future, so before the war ended Arnold took steps to ensure innovation would continue. The focus for a flexible and innovative intellectual environment was clearly with military applications.

Project RAND officially started in December 1945 and in March 1946 was launched as a free standing division within the Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) of Santa Monica, California. Other aeronautical enterprises had appeared and flourished in Southern California during the war and had turned the region into a hotbed of aircraft, space and missile development. The subsequent Roswell UFO incident that began all the controversy and mystery regarding Area 51 and strange aircraft happened in 1947. This date, location and activity of aircraft is very suggestive.

Rather than aliens rumoured to have been discovered, the bodies could have been simply dummies from the crash of high flying craft/balloons. Secretive operations produce no official information and a rumour mill eventually feeds unconfirmed 'disinformation'.


Arnold ensured RAND operating freedom involved being able to initiate its own research as well as respond to Air Force requests, yet turn down proposals (of its sponsor) it believed were inappropriate to the strengths of its 200 staff researchers. The Corporation became independent of DAC in 1948 and today this non-profit organisation has many non-military sponsors. RAND's work consists of ideas and assessments, rather than inventions and manufactured goods and a large part of its most technologically interesting research has been done under secret classification. This implies 'who' and 'what' both remain unknown and mixing military with non-military sponsors clouds the motivations of any issue.

  • RAND has always preferred a public stance of understatement: double-speak for "being economical with the truth"
Virtually limitless influence and achievements has been the result and it is undeniable that RAND has played a central r├┤le in the creation of critical technological developments since WWII and most prominently during the Cold War era under the cloak of secrecy while potentially hiding any sinister activities. Being structured along conventional lines, departments of mathematics, physics, engineering, economics, psychology, chemistry and aerodynamics. Mathematicians and physicists were encouraged to be conversant with the concepts of the engineers and economists and vice versa so creating the centralised, decentralised and distributed networks within a hub and forming the cohesive whole.

The hive that houses the colony

The intellectual crossbreeding bore highly significant results especially since all ideas were focused on concrete military challenges. The Corporation's first report was "Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship" (1946) and demonstrated the proof-of-concept for the RAND organisation as a detailed feasibility study for a proposed satellite explaining why such a vehicle should be developed. Space was the future and the Air Force should consider space a natural habitat. RAND also noted that technologies for launching into space, conducting activities in space and deorbiting, were reachable. Space offered tremendous advantages in reconnaissance, communications and weather forecasting.

It speculated that satellites would be used to guide missiles to targets. In a follow-up paper RAND analyst James Lipp remarked:

  • "Since mastery of the elements is a reliable index of material progress, the nation which first makes significant achievements in space travel will be acknowledged as the world leader in both military and scientific techniques. To visualise the impact on the world, one can imagine the consternation and admiration that would be felt here if the United States were to discover suddenly that some other nation had already put up a successful satellite."
  • In May 1945, when hostilities had barely ended in Europe, Wernher von Braun issued a report on German missile progress for the benefit of his new American employers, with special emphasis on the possibility of launching an artificial earth satellite vehicle. The US Navy took particular interest in this concept, and by November of the same year (1945) the Bureau of Aeronautics produced its own study of the technical feasibility of such a project. Von Braun was a leading rocket scientist (V-2), leading Germany's rocket development program before and during World War II. He entered the United States at the end of the war and eventually became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He joined NASA and became its Director.
The Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellites (1957), but RAND's "be first" message had provoked developments that allowed the United States to respond quickly after the Soviet Union's initial venture into space.

Roberta Wohlstetter (wife of Albert Wohlstetter) authored a seminal paper that involved the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour and could not be ignored. It provoked a massive change in thinking, affecting everything from mechanical procedures to the entire orientation of strategic policy. Aerial refuelling provided a solution for the strategic bomber force delivering ordnance from a distance and both aircraft and ordnance would be secure on American soil rather than vulnerable by being based in Europe.

The possibility of the pre-emptive strike by the Soviet Union focused the mind onto how the US would survive such a scenario. The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program was accelerated and the concept of the nuclear blast was linked to the idea of rocket propulsion (Bruno Augenstein, 1949). Nuclear bombs were heavy and unwieldy and as rockets were imprecise, greater precision would be needed in missile guidance. A less powerful blast and so smaller warhead would require a lesser amount of propulsion. The entire ethic at RAND seemed to deal solely with warmongering possibilities and making kills more efficient.

Pragmatically, it was the state of affairs in the middle of the 20th century after WWII. US advantage would be enabled by the collusion of a recent Nazi enemy (Wernher von Braun) and the American war machine. Planning the next conflict, directly after the previous one is officially over. The human-based war machine never sleeps and an organisation whose sole function is to generate ideas can promote the advance of technologies with the power to change the life of an entire culture.

Ideas are free (create the problem) Consequences are expensive (provide the solution)

The RAND Corporation is the Research ANd Development:

Of ideas

It doesn't require much imagination to connect the Banking Panic and RAND. Tenuous perhaps, but nonetheless plausible.