First Commander of the Western Development Division

General Schriever was born in Bremen, Germany, in September 1910. He emigrated to the United States in 1917, and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating from Texas A&M, he joined the Army in 1931 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps in 1933. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, he served as a test pilot, attended the Air Corps Engineering School, and got a master's degree in mechanical engineering (aeronautical) at Stanford. His first assignment during World War II was with the 19th Bomb Group in the South Pacific; later assignments were in logistics jobs that took advantage of his engineering background. After the war, he held several assignments in the research and development arena, and in August 1954, he became Commander of the Western Development Division (WDD), later redesignated as the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division (AFBMD). For the next four and a half years, he was in charge of the nation's most complex and important defense program--the development of intercontinental and intermediate range ballistic missiles (ICBMs and IRBMs). In that capacity, he established and implemented the management techniques that allowed his team to develop and deploy the Atlas, Titan and Minuteman ICBMs and the Thor IRBM under extremely compressed development schedules. The first Thor IRBM squadron went into operation only three and a half years after program approval. Development of the Atlas ICBM was completed in a little over five years, and the Titan I ICBM reached operational status in a little under six years. Finally, the Minuteman missile had its first successful test flight three years after program approval. The General's role in the missile program brought him wide public recognition, and he appeared on the cover of Time magazine in April 1957.

In April 1959, General Schriever was named Commander of AFBMD's parent command, the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC). One of his first priorities was to have responsibility for contracting and procurement transferred from Air Materiel Command (AMC) to ARDC so that ARDC would be responsible for production as well as for research and development. AMC resisted this, but the Air Force adopted General Schriever's position. In April 1961, ARDC was transformed into Air Force Systems Command, with responsibility for research, development, and production. General Schriever became Commander of the new organization, and in that role, he oversaw development of weapons and ordnance for limited conventional war--an area that had been neglected while the country was developing its strategic deterrent forces. In addition, he conducted Project Forecast--a systematic look at what technology could do to help meet the future needs of the Air Force. The General remained Commander of AFSC until August 1966, when he retired from the Air Force as a four-star general. Since retirement, he has been in great demand as a consultant to civilian organizations and has served without fee as an advisor to the Air Force and the DOD.