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Cuban missile crisis, 1962, value of photo intelligence,

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           Trapezoid  
             
While US intelligence had not provided strategic warning that the Soviets would introduce such weapons, intelligence had discovered the weapons before they became operational, giving the President an advantage in planning his response.   with warhead attached. It a had a support crew of 24 men, and it was serviced by a dozen vehicles. The SS-4 had sufficient fuel and thrust to deliver a 1-megaton nuclear warhead on short notice up to 1,000 miles, a range that threatened the southeastern US in an arc extending from Savannah, Georgia, to New Orleans, Louisiana.  
        
Analysis of U-2 photography went on around the clock, with few, even in the Intelligence Community, given access to the intelligence. As new photography became available, General Carroll and I would brief the Secretary and then take the same findings to the Chairman and the Joint Chiefs to prepare the Defense representatives for the continuing deliberations of the Executive Committee. Our photointerpreters poured over earlier U-2 photography of the geographic locations where we were now discovering the offensive weapons. These comparisons enabled us to determine when the Soviets had begun construction, a process which confirmed the clandestine and time-urgent design of the Soviet operation.   
       
 The SS-5 IRBM, by contrast, had a range of over 2,200 miles, and it could hit any target in the continental US except Seattle, Spokane, and other cities in Washington state. It was clear that we were not facing a temporary expeditionary force in Cuba. The SS-5 required complex permanent launch sites, with troop quarters, missile shelters, warhead bunkers and a large logistics train.  
       
 We had monitored the development and testing of the SS-5 SKEAN since the late 1950s. Operational in 1961, the SS-5 was the newest of the Soviet Union's IRBMs and the product of their intensive strategic rocket program. Its warhead yield also was estimated at l megaton, but it had better inertial guidance than the SS-4.
       
 Seaborne Shipments     
       
 With the deployment of the missiles in Cuba now established, we began to re-examine earlier photointelligence to determine how they had arrived. From September to mid-October, the Navy had photographed several Soviet merchant ships en route to Cuba, including the Poltava and the Omsk, riding high in the water and with unusually long cargo hatches. It was apparent that these merchant vessels must have been transporting a high-volume cargo that was not particularly heavy. We then realized that they had, in fact, been delivering missiles that were to be offloaded at night.        
  Four Key Sites    
        
  Continuing intelligence analysis provided irrefutable evidence that the Soviets were pushing ahead simultaneously with the installation of ballistic missiles at four separate locations: MRBMs at San Cristobal and Sagua La Grande, and IRBMs at Guanajay and Remedios. Soviet construction was progressing at a breakneck pace; photointelligence from successive U-2 missions indicated that sites were rapidly approaching operational status. Their construction workers were experiencing some difficulties as was evident from earth scarring and deep tire ruts produced by heavy transporters in the soft soil of the semitropical countryside.
       
 SS-4s and SS-5s      
       
 The photography of the 17 October U-2 mission revealed a major new development: the construction of a fixed IRBM site at Guanajay, just west of Havana. While the mobile MRBM posed a serious threat, its range was limited to targets in the southern US.  
        
   The Soviets and Cubans were working almost continuously to set up 24 MRBM launchers plus 18 reserves for a total of 42 SS-4 MRBM nuclear missiles, as well as three fixed IRBM launch sites, each  
         
             
 We had studied the SS-4 MRBM since before its first appearance on parade in Moscow the year before. It had an overall length of just over 73 feet          
             
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM