Melvin R. LairdMelvin R. Laird
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Secretary of Defense Laird with a Spec 4, William Fruebrodt, Saigon , March 1969. Fruebrodt, a Marshfield High School classmate of Lairds eldest son, John,served with the 320th Artillery of the 101st Airborne Unit.
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Melvin R. Laird

Secretary of Defense (1969-1972)

In defense of our country

Melvin R. Laird served as Secretary of Defense in the first administration of President Richard M. Nixon. Mr. Laird was voted, in the department, in a poll of reporters covering defense and national security issues, "the most effective, likeable, trustworthy, strong and forthcoming Secretary of Defense."

While Secretary of Defense, Mr. Laird withdrew 20,000 U.S. ground combat forces from Korea and ordered a race relations task force be created to develop a program for racial harmony in the military. He also promoted the first women to flag rank in the history of the military.

In the midst of the escalating Indochina conflict, Mr. Laird became the architect of the Vietnamization plan, whereby the American role in Vietnam was to be gradually replaced by the South Vietnamese military.

Mr. Laird is credited for increasing the number of Polaris submarines and pushing for the construction of an Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) system, citing that an ABM system was essential to the nation's defense. In addition, he pushed to bring military intelligence operations under greater civilian control, and urged the modernization of European armed forces to improve the strength of the Atlantic alliance. He created the Japanese-U.S. Military Council and increased cost sharing among nations of the Pacific.

When Mr. Laird resigned, he had established the All-Volunteer Military Force, had presided over the ending of the draft, and reduced the military budget from 47% to 30% of the national budget.

More about Melvin R. Laird

Wisconsin Senate
U.S. Congress
Counselor to the President
Business Achievements
Family and Friends

Cover of With Honor

With Honor: Melvin Laird in War, Peace and Politics
The authorized biography of Melvin Laird.
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