Richard J. Norton is a Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, where he teaches courses in military history. A Navy veteran, Dr. Norton served extensively at sea on cruisers and destroyers, and also in a number of senior staff positions ashore. He has published extensively on failed states, humanitarian early warning, and African regional military affairs, as well as peacekeeping, humanitarian and refugee operations. His most recent publications include Through a Mirror Darkly: The Use of Alternate History for Decision-Makers, (Naval War College, 2012) and “Feral Cities” (United States Marine Corps Journal, 2009).
The Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) dates back to 1949. It is one of the longest serving continuously operating offices in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and has been recognized for the excellence of its publications and programs for over a half a century. It was awarded the OSD Exceptional Civilian Service Award in December 1999.
"The Pentagon is three in one. It is a building, an institution, and a symbol. As a building, it is one of the wonders of the modem world, an immense and efficient structure created in a mere 16 months between September 1941 and January 1943 – a remarkable feat of conception, design, and construction. As an institution, it is the nerve center of the U.S. military establishment. To the nation and world it is symbolic of American power and influence."
Dr. Alfred Goldberg, Former OSD Historian, The Pentagon: The First Fifty Years
On 17 September 1947, James Forrestal was sworn in as the first Secretary of Defense. The creation of the position was one of the most significant changes in the history of the US military establishment. Ever since, he and his successors have worked to forge the diverse Services and supporting entities into a stronger and more effective defense organization.
The acquisition of major weapon systems consumes a large share of the defense budget and receives extraordinary attention from lawmakers and the public. Although numerous studies have looked in depth at particular weapons programs, the multivolume series—History of Acquisition in the Department of Defense—is the first to provide an overarching account of defense acquisition from 1945 to the close of the 20th century.
The OSD Historical Office's award-winning Secretaries of Defense Historical Series chronicles the evolution of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Historical Office also produces publications on specialized Defense topics.
The OSD Historical Office houses a substantial collection of reference documents related to the history of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. These documents include the Department of Defense Annual Reports since 1969, selected Quadrennial Defense Reviews, and other significant materials.
The OSD Historical Office maintains an extensive collection of images that range from candid shots of the Secretaries of Defense and other notable individuals to photographs of significant events.
This portion of the web site provides answers to many frequently asked questions, as well as links to other sources of information on the components of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of Defense to include the Pentagon Library, pictured above.