Remembering Founding RAA President Milt Weiner

Milton Weiner

We recently learned of the passing of Milton (Milt) Weiner, the founder and first president of the RAND Alumni Association. He served as president of the RAA for seven years, and worked in several research roles from 1953 to 1985, including as a social scientist, psychologist, engineer, and senior engineer.

“I first met Milt Weiner in early 1981 when I visited RAND in Santa Monica," said Jim Thomson, president emeritus of RAND. “It was a recruiting visit. Milt hosted a lunch where I gave a talk and met several RAND analysts. I learned later that Milt had immediately sent a memo to Don Rice that urged him to hire me. In the early 1990s, after he had retired, Milt proposed to me the formation of an alumni association. It was a good idea and remains so.”

Milt was a driving force behind the creation of the RAA. He led a planning committee to consider its feasibility and design, and he held numerous association leadership roles in addition to serving as president. Milt worked tirelessly to keep alumni connected—including through the development of the Alumni Bulletin—to deepen their ties to RAND, and to shape an association that would be meaningful to all RANDites. Milt remained an active and engaged member of the RAA throughout his life.

“Among his many contributions to RAND, Milt was a mentor to many of us. When working with Milt, every day was a school day. Lessons abounded, not always overt, but we were all learning from each experience. He helped us learn about the nonquantifiable aspects of warfare and how to incorporate them into our work. He made sure we were attentive to lessons from history. Above all he adhered to RAND’s principles of objectivity and independence,” said Natalie Crawford, president of the RAA. “As significant as his research contributions are, and though he will be missed, the energy and ideas that Milt poured into the RAA will continue to add to the fabric of the RAND family and the RAA for generations to come.”

Milt’s various specialties merged with and contributed to RAND’s growing involvement with wargaming and various approaches to modeling. An early non-computer-based simulation led by Milt and fellow RAND psychologists was Cogwheel, a 1955 project that reproduced the interactions of a 40-member air defense crew in RAND’s System Research Laboratory with the goal of studying training and task learning in organized groups. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he authored reference guides on the history and basics of wargaming. In 1969, he argued for an expansion of gaming to better capture nontechnical aspects of conflict.

Milt went on to work with RAND’s team in South Vietnam, including testing the indexing system used to organize data from the large number of interviews conducted for the project. His later work integrated his expertise in evaluating combat operations and employing the tools for building shared knowledge through gaming. These projects included a detailed model illustrating a new concept in defending NATO. His research also continued to emphasize holistic approaches to operational planning that accounted for noncombat elements, including infrastructure development, communications, intelligence, and civil-military coordination.

“Milt Weiner was an analyst and research leader in the best RAND tradition: methodologically sound, grounded in real-world experience, committed to solving problems with evidence about what works. He and the teams he led made numerous contributions to NATO security. And, he’ll always be remembered as the founding president of the RAND Alumni Association,” said RAND president and CEO Michael Rich.

Milt will be deeply missed.

Read Milt Weiner's History of the RAA