Major General James H. Burns was born in Pawling, New York on September 12, 1885 and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1904.
He is credited with the idea of industrial mobilization after World War I. He personally convinced the Under Secretary and the Secretary of War to back the establishment of the Army Industrial College (1924) where officers study the problems of industrial mobilization.
General Burns was instrumental in inaugurating and formulating the great Ordnance production programs of World War II. As the executive officer to the Chairman of the Munitions Assignments Board, he was involved with the formulation of Ordnance policies and programs at the highest level.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated him to be Chief of Ordnance on April 1, 1942, but he declined the nomination because the Chairman felt that an urgent necessity existed for General Burns to continue his work with the Munitions Assignment Board. General Burns retired in 1944 and died on November 27, 1972.