Department of Defense - The marshall-lovett era

To replace Johnson, Truman turned in September 1950 to General George C. Marshall, army chief of staff in World War II and secretary of state from 1947 to 1949, who brought with him his former undersecretary of state, Robert A. Lovett, to be his number two (and successor, beginning in 1951) at the Pentagon. Truman held Marshall in the highest regard, and it is not surprising that, with Marshall's return to government, Acheson found his authority and influence somewhat eclipsed. Meanwhile, Truman also decided to upgrade the National Security Council, thereby imposing greater discipline and efficiency on the policy process and opening avenues for shaping high-level policy that had not existed for either Forrestal or Johnson. With the additional impetus of the Korean War generating a growing list of U.S. politico-military commitments around the globe, the Defense Department became immersed in foreign affairs to an unprecedented degree. Not until the Kennedy and Johnson administrations of the 1960s would a secretary of defense exert as much influence over foreign policy as did Marshall and Lovett.

In sharp contrast to the confrontational tone of Johnson's tenure, Marshall and Lovett both promoted cordial working relations between the State and Defense departments. Truman was disgusted with the constant bickering between Acheson and Johnson, and he looked to his new team at the Pentagon to put politico-military collaboration on a more sound and professional basis. The goal, as Lovett later described it while testifying before Congress, was "constant, close, and sympathetic cooperation" between the two departments. This included not only increased contacts at the uppermost levels of policymaking, but also direct consultations on a regular basis involving the State Department's regional assistant secretaries, the Policy Planning Staff, and the Joint Chiefs, something that Johnson had sharply curtailed.

Despite an atmosphere of improved cooperation, Marshall and Lovett continued the practice begun by Johnson of exercising close administrative control of foreign affairs through OSD, under what became in November 1951 the Office of International Security Affairs, headed by Frank C. Nash, one of the many Forrestal protégés still around the Pentagon. Nash had a broad charter that gave him the authority to coordinate "all activities" within the Department of Defense relating to international security affairs. Nash himself was intimately involved in practically every detail of the office's operations, serving as principal liaison with the National Security Council and as a key aide to Marshall and Lovett. It was one of the Pentagon's most high profile jobs, requiring a judicious mix of administrative and diplomatic skills that continuously underscored the increasingly close relationship between military affairs and foreign policy.

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