NDIA History Snapshots: A look back at the history of the association as it celebrates its centennial year.


Since its founding, the National Defense Industrial Association's core mission has included "disseminating among its members information and guidance on the design, development, production and supply of ordnance equipment." Industry experts have used NDIA's tools and its forerunners to facilitate meetings of minds at events and in research reports, academic articles and white papers.

In the 1920s, Army Ordnance, the magazine of NDIA predecessor the Army Ordnance Association, featured both technical articles and editorials. Topics included industry trends and case studies on specific goods and processes. This collection of written expertise complemented AOAs annual gatherings at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, where government and industry leaders shared ideas face to face.

Experts continued to share new ideas during and after World War II. Maj. Gen. CT. Harris Jr., the commanding general of Aberdeen Proving Ground, provided a prescient insight in 1945 when he wrote: "Rockets in this war, like the tank in the last, are in their infancy." In the 1950s, when basic preparedness had long ceased to be a contentious issue, articles speculated about the future role of the atomic bomb.

To encourage development of innovations with practical applications, the association created commodity and technical support divisions after World War II. These divisions evolved into today's defense industrial-government network of 29 divisions and three industrial committees, in addition to NDIA's ad-hoc working groups.

The association also formalized two longstanding pillars: national events every year that focused on "in-the-flesh" networking, speakers and demonstrations, as well as regular seminars held by local chapters.

Over the years, the association had focused on written scholarship and events in turn; the postwar era showed leaders that there was a tangible ongoing need for both.

Ordnance, the next iteration of Army Ordnance and the predecessor publication of National Defense, helped educate members of industry on materials progress, air armament, underwater ordnance, missiles and astronautics, chemical and biological defense and other new developments.

During NDIA's next 50 years, publications continued to be vehicles for educational advancement. In addition to the monthly magazine, The Common Defense stayed on top of current events in Washington. Armament targeted members affiliated with the organization's technical divisions. Firepower emphasized the...

To continue reading