Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2005 16:58:49 +0100 (BST)
From: daniel wilson <>
Subject: Importance of Santa Fe, New Mexico
To: Fran Ridge <> 


1. JULY 1947 TO JULY 1950

The newly-created Atomic Energy Commission took over responsibility for the

atomic energy program on January 1, 1947. On July 2 the Office of Santa Fe Directed

Operations (nowSanta Fe Operations Office) was established to administer the atomic

weapons field program. Two weeks later, the present Manager of SFOO arrived at Los

Alamos to be the first civilian manager of the project.

In mid-1947, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, assisted by a small Sandia Branch,

was carrying the major weight of weapons manufacture. There was some production of

mechanical components at the Army’s Rock Island (Ill. ) Arsenal. The Salt Wells Pilot

Plant of Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, California, was producing high explosives.

There was little participation by private industry. Two weapons types were

being produced in extremely limited quantity. Units going into stockpile were laboratory-

fabricated. The limited production chain had only one source for each major component.

Three major modifications of one Mark weapon were in early development,

The SFOO assignment at the beginning of its operations represented a tremendous

undertaking. It was required to build the mandatory physical plant and organization,

while at the same time assuring continuous production of weapons, and maintaining basic

and applied research for development of more powerful, more varied, or more efficient

weapons. The scope and priority of initial assignment were direct reflections of the


To build and develop at Los Alamos, the heart of the program, a community

that would be adequate to obtain and to retain the type of personnel

required. This meant rebuilding and expanding the community.

To provide a climate in which LASL could proceed with its job of basic

nuclear research and development, and to provide a Technical Area physical

plant adequate for the job.

To organize and supervise an ordnance development, production, and

testing complex, relieving LASL of these responsibilities.

To expand production and facilities at other sites, in order to achieve

a continuous flow of component parts.

To evolve an organization competent to achieve basic management and

program objectives.

Approximately two and one-half peacetime years provided a relatively secure period

unhampered by wartime expediencies, during which programs could be adequately

planned and activated. The value of time for orderly development of a basic SF0 structure

was underwritten by national and international events near the end of the period. In

the Autumnof 1949 Russia tested an atomic weapon, and SF0 moved immediately out of

its “peace-time” period into one of increased mission urgency and of “crash” programs.

This was intensified in early 1950 with the decision to go all out on thermonuclear weapon

development. It was further intensified three days before the end of the reporting period

by the outbreak of the Korean War.