When the U.S. entered World War II, and German submarines began to patrol the East Coast and American shipping lanes in earnest, the Navy's immediate attention turned to countering this threat as part of the Battle of the Atlantic. In April 1942 Capt. Wilder Baker, head of the Navy Antisubmarine Warfare Unit, enlisted MIT professor Philip Morse to lead an operations research team to help the Navy: the Antisubmarine Warfare Operations Research Group (ASWORG).
Although sending civilian experts to military commands was a still a delicate matter, in June 1942 ASWORG set a precedent -- and established the Field Program which continues today -- when it assigned an analyst to the Headquarters of the Gulf Sea Frontier in Miami, and soon thereafter assigned several analysts to the Eastern Sea Frontier in New York. ASWORG itself was assigned to the Headquarters of Commander in Chief, U.S Fleet, led by Adm. Ernest King who was also Chief of Naval Operations. A year later ASWORG joined the Tenth Fleet when the command was formed to consolidate America's antisubmarine warfare operations.
By the end of the war, ASWORG had about 80 scientists and had broadened its scope to include the study of virtually all forms of naval warfare. During most of the war about 40 percent of the group was assigned to various operating commands. These field representatives developed immediate practical answers to tactical and force allocation questions important to their commands. Concurrently, they fed back practical experience and understanding to the central Washington group, an approach still taken at CNA.
Among its many World War II contributions ASWORG analysts helped:
• Devise more effective escort screening plans
• Determine the optimum size of convoys
• Develop antisubmarine warfare tactics, such as optimum patterns and altitudes for ASW patrol aircraft
• Develop countermeasures to German acoustic torpedoes and snorkeling U-boats
• Contribute to the use of airborne radar.