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Cuban missile crisis, 1962, value of photo intelligence,

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        Trapezoid
         
Reconnaissance Center (JRC) to coordinate the operations and allow for policy review by the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, and the White House, and then be delivered to the "recce" units that would fly the missions. The highest priority was to move that film from the returning aircraft through the photo labs, through analysis, to the policy level of government-a 24-hour-a-day operation, with intense time pressures, and a crucial need for accuracy.   The intelligence flowing from the reconnaissance missions provided the irrefutable evidence the US required to document to the world the basis for its response, as well as the targeting data that would have been needed if the crisis touched off an armed conflict. It tracked the surge of Soviet military personnel to some 22,000 by the end of October 1962, and then the ebb in those numbers to some 17,000 as the troops manning the offensive weapons departed.
         
In his introduction to Robert F. Kennedy's memoir of the Cuban missile crisis, Thirteen Days, McNamara wrote:     
 Strategic Warning   
      Strategic warning is the most important component of effective intelligence. Perhaps the greatest barrier to developing effective strategic indications and warning for decisionmaking is the tendency of the human mind to assume that the status quo will continue. The Cuban missile crisis and many other conflicts of the postwar era, including the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War and the Falklands conflict, confirm that nations generally do not credit their potential opponents with the will to take unexpected acts. We did not believe the Soviets would do so in 1962.
 The performance of the US Government during that critical period was more effective than at any other time during my seven years' service as Secretary of Defense. The agencies of government-the State Department, the civilian and military leaders of the Defense Department, the CIA, the White House Staff, and the UN Mission-worked together smoothly and harmoniously.'    
      
The entire intelligence-operations team for US reconnaissance against Cuba demonstrated a sense of urgency and national mission that epitomized this effort.      
  I was part of a team assisting General Carroll in his responsibilities as a member of the US Intelligence Board (USIB), the top policy forum of the Intelligence Community, whose membership included the DCI and the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the DIA, the Department of State's Director of Intelligence and Research, the Director of Naval Intelligence, the Army and Air Force Assistant Chiefs of Staff for Intelligence, the Director of the National Security Agency, the Assistant General Manager for Administration of the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Assistant to the Director of the FBI. Each person brought the intelligence strengths of their respective organizations to the table. It was the Board's primary duty to produce the formal National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) and Special National Intelligence Estimates (SNIEs) on key international issues and events for consideration by the NSC. With the memory of the Bay of
      
Tactical Data     
      
Intelligence did not perform flawlessly during the crisis. The Intelligence Community had not provided clear warning of the Soviet Union's intention to place offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba. Indeed, the debate over Khrushchev's motives and the USSR's strategic intentions continues. The community did, however, provide tactical intelligence on the USSR's rapid deployment of missile and bomber forces in Cuba. As the crisis mounted, tactical warning and targeting data were developed and steadily updated in support of strike options being developed by the JCS and the NSC Executive Committee. Targets included the MRBM and IRBM missile installations, the IL-28/BEAGLE bombers, the 24 SA-2 SAM sites, the MiG-21 fighters, and other ground, air, and naval targets.   
  

 

 

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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM