Jeffrey LewisOverwhelming ABM systems: FOIA Can Be a Real Bitch

In March 1969, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird was asked “Did the deployment by the Russians of their antiballistic missile system around Moscow and Leningrad encourage us to negotiate or didn’t it encourage us to retaliate …”

Laird replied, “I don’t think we really retaliated.”

Oh really?

The Soviet Union deployed ballistic missile defense systems around Moscow and Leningrad in late 1967; in early 1968, the United States adopted a new single integrated operational plan (SIOP) to “ensure penetration of the ICBM force” against ABM systems around Moscow and Leningrad.

That plan—outlined by Hans Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, and Stan Norris—envisioned a massive strike on Moscow and Leningrad:

In addition to an undisclosed number of Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the plan involved “more than 100 Minuteman” ICBMs—about 10 percent of the U.S. ICBM force at the time. The attack would come in two closely coordinated waves. In the first salvo, Minuteman I/II and Polaris missiles would strike the Hen House early warning radars and their Tallinn system defenses. In the second wave, the Dog House radar and the Try Add system around Moscow would be attacked.

The resulting plan placed about 70 nuclear weapons on Moscow, with a total megatonnage of 65,200 KT—that is about 3,260 times the explosive force of the device dropped on Hiroshima.

We didn’t really retaliate. Not really. Here are NRDC’s estimate of the attack plan.