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Cuban missile crisis, 1962, value of photo intelligence,

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        Trapezoid
           
human sources, ship-to-ship inspections, air-to-ship surveillance, and other sources and methods. Weather permitting, the Navy RF-8As and Air Force RF-101s flew across Cuba on daily missions collecting thousands of frames of up-to-the-minute evidence for examination by the photointerpreters, analysts, and the senior levels of government.        
 US surveillance would continue to track the withdrawal closely and that this unilateral inspection and monitoring would continue until the US arranged for international inspection of the cargoes and overall withdrawal.  
       
By the time of his news conference on 20 November, the President had received sufficient intelligence to be able to report that the missile sites had all been dismantled, that the missiles and associated equipment had departed Cuba aboard Soviet ships, that US inspection at sea had confirmed that the numbers departing included all known missiles, and that Khrushchev had informed him earlier that day that the IL-28 bombers would all be withdrawn from Cuba within 30 days. Following this Soviet compliance with US demands, the President announced that he had ordered the lifting of the quarantine. He went on to stress that close surveillance of Cuba would continue, bearing in mind that Castro had still not agreed to allow UN inspectors to verify the removal of all offensive weapons or to set safeguards in place to prevent their reintroduction.
      
Early on, the Soviets started to break up the IRBM sites-sites which would never meet their planned 15 December operational date, which was chosen to coincide with Khrushchev's planned address to the UN. Bulldozers tore up the missiles' concrete launch pads and smashed through missile-support facilities. Each of the sites was systematically monitored. The status of the support equipment, propellant trailers, nuclear weapons-handling vans and communications vans was also an intelligence indicator. We tracked their withdrawal from the missile sites to the ports and onto a succession of Soviet merchant ships. The reconnaissance cameras documented Soviet personnel boarding ships for the voyage back across the Atlantic.   
           
The Navy quarantine remained in effect, examining any inbound ships and, in a new phase, inspecting outbound ships to determine their cargoes. The Soviets complied with orders to strip away canvas covering each of the missiles in their canisters, with each clearly in the open, riding as deck cargo. They also complied with orders to break open the wooden crates containing the IL-28 bomber wings and fuselages, permitting us to count each and to confirm their departure.   In his news conference of 12 December, the President had to repeat his position of 20 November, stating that while the US continued to press for onsite inspection, he would take every step necessary through continuing close daily surveillance to ensure that no missiles or offensive weapons were reintroduced.  
        
  Paying Tribute     
         
           
Quarantine commander Admiral Ward reported that while the business was deadly serious and while the US forces insisted on full, precise compliance with all demands, there was no sign of Soviet hostility.    With the quarantine lifted, the President flew to Florida on 26 November to pay tribute to the reconnaissance wings and squadrons. At Homestead Air Force Base, the President presented Outstanding Unit Awards to the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing and the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. He saluted the work of the pilots and their ground crews:  
      
Status Reports      
      
On 2 November, President Kennedy provided his first formal status report on the dismantling of the Soviet missile bases in Cuba in an address to the nation. He reported that careful examination of aerial photography and other information was confirming the destruction of the missile bases and preparation of the missiles for return to the USSR. He said that         
   I may say, gentleman, that you take excellent pictures, and I've seen a good many of them. And beginning with the photographs which   
        
           
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM