With interventionist support growing through movements and organizations like the CDAAA and FFF, Vannevar Bush felt it was
time to take his campaign to the top. On June 12, 1940 after more than a little help from friends in Washington, Bush was
granted an audience with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Bush, famously, came prepared with only a single sheet of paper
containing the proposal for his research group. Within minutes, he had Roosevelt's approval. On June 27, Roosevelt resurrected
the long-dormant Council of Defense, creating the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC). Naturally, Bush was placed
at the helm.
The NDRC was run and operated by a council of eight members. The chairman, Vannevar Bush, was selected by Roosevelt. The
President of the national Academy of Sciences and the Commissioner of Patents were selected by title. The Secretary of War
and the Secretary of the Navy were required to appoint one man each and the final three were nominated by the chairman. With
half the selection outside his jurisdiction, Bush knew he had to pad the committee with allies. And so he called on the men
with whom the genesis of the NDRC lay - his comrades from the Committee on Scientific Aids to Learning.
Within weeks, Bush had assembled an all-star team of men from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country. The
title-mandated positions were filled by Frank B. Jewett, President of the National Academy of Sciences; Conway P. Coe, Commissioner of Patents; Brigadier General George V. Strong,
representing the Secretary of War; and Rear Admiral Harold G. Bowen, representing the Secretary of the Navy. In addition
to these four men, Bush had selected James B. Conant, President of Harvard University; Karl T. Compton, President of MIT; and Richard C. Tolman, Professor of Physical Chemistry
and Mathematical Physics at Caltech. With his men gathered together, Bush went to work.
The NDRC was designed to operate with a great deal of autonomy. It received funding directly from the Executive Office of
the President rather than through contracts with the military, had the authority to form contracts with various institutions
including universities and private manufacturers, and reported directly to the President. Bush had funding, facilities, and
the greatest scientific minds of the day under his direct command.
The size of the undertaking necessitated a great deal of organization. Bush and his cabinet quickly decided on a pyramidal
structure, with each committee member commanding a semi-autonomous division and reporting directly to Bush who, in turn, reported
to Roosevelt. Each division was then assigned sections by the committee member leading it. From there, each section chief
chose his staff, assigning men to projects under the NDRC umbrella, with frequent reports to his division chief. And so the
chain of command went, branching out into a complex yet manageable series of divisions, sections, and subsections, each staffed
with administrators, scientists, lab technicians, and a multitude of other employees, all a part of the great American war