Bernard M. Baruch, born 19 August 1870 in Camden, South Carolina, graduated from City College, New York, in 1889 and began a career in Wall Street, working up from office boy to partner in A.A. Houseman. He then founded his own brokerage and bought the international trading firm of H. Hentz and Company. He was a millionaire by 1910. Fortunately for America, Baruch now began devoting much of his time, given freely, to ensuring the country's industrial preparedness in time of war and peace.
In 1916, Baruch was appointed to the Advisory Commission to the Council on National Defense. Upon America's entry into World War I, he was appointed to the General Munitions Board. In late 1917 he was appointed Chief of Raw Material of the newly created War Industries Board and its Chairman in 1918. This Board regulated all aspects of munitions production. Baruch championed price controls to minimize war profiteering and organized the Board's regulatory apparatus along commodity rather than functional lines, allowing a better focus on production by type. At the Paris Peace Conference following World War I, Baruch advised President Woodrow Wilson on economic and reparations aspects of the Versailles Treaty. Upon returning to the United States, Baruch embarked on a virtual crusade in the interwar years to champion industrial preparedness. Often working through the auspices of the Army Ordnance Association, he urged civilian industry and the military alike to prepare for wartime production. In 1924 he was appointed advisor to the new Army Industrial College.
Baruch also pushed the services to create industrial mobilization plans that took into account production capabilities, the needs of the military, and the availability of raw materials. He advised then-Major Dwight D. Eisenhower in preparing the Army's first Industrial Mobilization Plan in 1930. He urged the use of "educational orders" that allowed commercial industries to produce limited amounts of munitions to gain experience. In 1936 and 1937, he encouraged the development of ammunition-plant blue prints and machinery lists to allow for the rapid construction of production facilities.
As war approached, Baruch also pushed for the stockpiling of strategic raw materials, especially rubber and tin. When the outbreak of war in the Pacific in World War II cut off the United States from its source of rubber, Baruch chaired a board that devised a plan for producing petroleum-based synthetic rubber. During the war, he also served as Advisor to the Office of Wartime Production. Baruch also played a key role in contract termination. Munitions contracts were often terminated because of changing requirements or improvements in production processes, and the number of contract terminations at wars end would be significant. Baruch prepared a report on how to terminate contracts quickly yet fairly and established processes for property disposal.
In 1946, Baruch was appointed US Representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission. He served as an advisor to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson until his death in 1965. His industrial and economic mobilization concepts had led the way for the Army's and the Ordnance Corps's procurement and production of munitions.