Today in AFJ History

November 3, 2013  

1962: Crowing over Cuba

Soviet truck convoy deploying missiles near San Cristobal, Cuba, on Oct. 14, 1962. This image, taken by Maj. Steve Heyser in a USAF U-2, is the first picture that proved Russian missiles were being emplaced in Cuba. (U.S. Air Force photo)

From the archive: November 3, 1962

Editor’s note: Here’s how AFJ reacted to the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 13 October days when the world lived on a knife’s edge.

The Credible Deterrent

With a massive global retaliatory punch instantly raised and kept in full view of the Soviet Union, Commander-in-Chief John F. Kennedy has directed a swift and precisely controlled deployment of U.S. military power to counter at least for the moment a menacing underbelly missile threat against the Nation.

It was under the quickly raised umbrella of “massive retaliation” that the U.S. executed a broad spectrum “flexible response” that forced Premier Khrushchev to retreat in Cuba.

The deterrent proved credible.

If in past months, there have been endless efforts at academic analysis and computer-influenced argumentation concerning what many citizens came to believe were opposite poles of defense strategy, Cuba has demonstrated with dramatic forcefulness that, in a true crisis, all military resources have a tightly coordinated role to play. As heavily armed bombers of SAC went on extraordinary readiness alert, the Navy put its Polaris tender to sea from the forward anchorage at Holy Loch, Scotland. The burgeoning Strike Command “prepared for any eventuality” with a Marine amphibious force embarked and ready to go and with supersonic Air Force and Navy aircraft set to strike. President Kennedy was able to effect the first direct quarantine confrontation in the Cuban Crisis with an unarmed Navy whaleboat boarding party smartly attired in dress whites.