Last night I watched the Continental Defense in the Eisenhower Era C-SPAN session, on TV. The program description is shown next:
Christopher Bright talked about his book Continental Defense in the Eisenhower Era: Nuclear Antiaircraft Arms and the Cold War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). He researched the book at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, drawing upon formerly classified documents. Mr. Bright noted that the United States had 841 weapons in its nuclear arsenal when Eisenhower became president – and 18,686 when he left office. Twenty percent of those weapons were designed to defend Americans against a surprise Soviet nuclear attack. He focused his remarks on that part of the Cold War story.
I learned much in listening to this presentation:
- When Ike took office in 1953 the U.S. had over 800 nukes. When he left office in 1961, the U.S. had in excess of 18,000 nukes.
- I didn’t know until tonight that the U.S. anti-aircraft and anti-missle Nike weapons were armed with small nukes! This was to ensure that not only the enemy aircraft or missile would be destroyed upon detonation, the nukes on those enemy craft would be destroyed as well!