"View Down The Muzzle of the Silo" by NPS Photo , public domain

Minuteman Missile

National Historic Site - South Dakota

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site illustrates the history and significance of the Cold War, the arms race, and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development. This Site preserves the last remaining Minuteman II ICBM system in the United States. 450 of the newer Minuteman III missiles are still on active duty at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Minot AFB, North Dakota, and F. E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.

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Official Visitor Map of Badlands National Park (NP) in South Dakota. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Badlands - Visitor Map

Official Visitor Map of Badlands National Park (NP) in South Dakota. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

https://www.nps.gov/mimi/index.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minuteman_Missile_National_Historic_Site The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site illustrates the history and significance of the Cold War, the arms race, and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development. This Site preserves the last remaining Minuteman II ICBM system in the United States. 450 of the newer Minuteman III missiles are still on active duty at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Minot AFB, North Dakota, and F. E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. During the Cold War, a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles were placed in the Great Plains. Hidden in plain sight, for thirty years 1,000 missiles were kept on constant alert; hundreds remain today. The Minuteman Missile remains an iconic weapon in the American nuclear arsenal. It holds the power to destroy civilization, but is meant as a nuclear deterrent to maintain peace and prevent war. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is located at three sites along a fifteen mile stretch of Interstate 90 in western South Dakota. The Visitor Center is located immediately north of I-90, exit 131. The two historic sites which make up the park are four miles (Launch Control Facility Delta-01) and 15 miles (Launch Facility Delta-09) from the Visitor Center. No public transportation systems serve the park. Minuteman Missile NHS Visitor Center The visitor center is the best place to begin your visit to the park. Exhibits, films, and a bookstore allow visitors to explore the story of the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System and its role in the larger context of the Cold War. The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Visitor Center is located on the north side of exit 131 Interstate 90. From the east, via I-90 Follow I-90 west to exit 131. Turn right off the exit and visitor center will be 1/4 mile on the left. From the west, via I-90 Follow I-90 east to exit 131. Turn left off the exit, go across the overpass and the visitor center will be 1/2 mile on the left. Delta-09 enclosure Glass structure over the silo allows visitors to look down at the missile The glass enclosure allows visitors to view a Minuteman II missile in the silo. Minuteman II Missile A cylindrical missile inside an underground silo. A Minuteman II nuclear missile remains on alert, representing the 1,000 missiles which kept a constant vigil during the Cold War. A winter visit to Delta-09 Two people are visible at the missile silo through a chain link fence A visit to the Delta-09 missile silo allows the opportunity to consider the role of these missile in America's defense during the Cold War. Delta-01 A brown building behind a tall fence with warning signs For thirty years, US Air Force staff monitored a flight of ten nuclear missiles at the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility. "Thirty Minutes or Less" A large metal blast door with art of a Domino with a nuclear missile Behind this blast door is the control center where two missileers kept a constant watch over ten nuclear missiles. Morale Art of the Cold War A painting of a nuclear missile bursting through a Soviet Flag Located next to the elevator, this painting served as a reminder to missileers who they were defending the United States against. Nose-to-Nose with Armegeddon View down a silo at a nuclear missile Visitors can peer through the glass at a Minuteman II missile in the silo at Delta-09. Night view of Delta-09 Night view of the Delta-09 site Night view of the Delta-09 site Minuteman Missile Visitor Center A modern building with a prominent glass clerestory dominates a prairie landscape at sunset The visitor center at sunset. Cold War "Blast Door" art at Delta-01 A view of a concrete wall with a painting and a blastdoor with art Morale art reminded missile officers who the enemy was during the Cold War Park Ranger leads a tour in the underground control center A ranger talks to visitors next to electronic cabinets. A park ranger leads a tour in the underground control center Species Spotlight - Crazy Snakeworm Because of the scouring action of the ice age, earthworms are not native to the northeast. One species in particular, the crazy snake worm, has the potential to greatly alter the natural forest ecosystems in our region. An earthworm held in a person's hand The Peacekeeper [MX] Missile The Peacekeeper [MX] missile was one of the most lethal and highly controversial ICBMs in history. It could hold up to ten nuclear warheads which could strike independent targets. The Peacekeeper was only deployed in Wyoming and housed in retrofitted Minuteman silos. The Peacekeeper also used solid fuel technology, which gave it all the advantages of the Minuteman, but with much greater potential firepower. It was deployed from 1987 until 2005. Diagram of the Peacekeeper Missile Missile Maintainers In the Cold War Minuteman Missile Fields, missile maintainers conducted all manner of inspections, routine upgrades, equipment replacement, or necessary repairs. A young man in a work cage is suspended at the side of a deep missile silo Missile Rations Cook In the Cold War Minuteman Missile fileds, a cook was scheduled for each three-day alert tour at a Launch Control Facility (LCF). Missile rations cooks typically held ranks from Airman First Class up to Staff Sergeant and were typically in their twenties. A military chef poses with two uniformed airmen at a dining room table. Facility Manager In the Cold War Minuteman Missile fields, a facility manager's primary job duties included supervising and managing topside personnel at the Launch Control Facility, maintaining support equipment, and responding to emergencies under the direction of the missile crew on duty. There were also a host of additional duties, including everything from acting weatherman, mechanic, innkeeper, and groundskeeper, or essentially, anything needed to keep the facility running smoothly. A sergeant works on a diesel tank inside a generator room Security Alert Teams Security alert teams, under the supervision of the flight security controllers, were responsible for periodic site inspections and responding to any security breaches that occurred in the Cold War Minuteman Missile fields. It was their duty to secure a Launch Facility, for example, following an alarm or security breach and remain at the Launch Facility until the site was secure and alarmed. A uniformed airman patrols a fence-line Flight Security Controller Flight security controllers were non-commissioned officers with the rank of Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, or Technical Sergeant. They were the top ranking security police personnel at each Minuteman Missile launch control facility. One security controller was posted in the security control room at all times to monitor security at the control facility, as well as all ten missile silos in their flight area. Office with a console desk and many windows looking into a fenced compound Missileers Air Force Officers who served on Missile Combat Crews were commonly known as "Missileers." In the Minuteman Missile fields during the Cold War, their job was to keep constant watch over a flight of ten nuclear missiles, twenty-four hours at a time. Uniformed Air Force Officers stand and sit in a room of electronic consoles Countdown to Doomsday What would the steps have been to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike against the Soviet Union during the Cold War? This article walks through that process and imagines a day that never happened. An officer looks up at an electronic display panel. Ground Based Strategic Deterrent The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent is a next generation intercontinental ballistic missile under development for the U.S. Air Force. Concept art of a missile in the sky The Minuteman Missile The Minuteman was the first solid-fueled ICBM ever deployed. The Minuteman's solid fuel technology brought about a revolution in missile development. It could be remotely controlled, offered precision accuracy, launched in a matter of moments and was cost effective. There have been four versions of the Minuteman, the IA, IB, II and III. The Minuteman first became operational in 1962; over fifty years later, 400 Minuteman III ICBM's are still on alert today. An Minuteman III missile launches during a nighttime test (U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Peterson) Minuteman Missiles on the Great Plains During the Cold War, the United States built an arsenal of 1,000 Minuteman Missiles in six fields across the country. A missile silo on the great plains. The Atlas Missile The Atlas was the United States first viable ICBM. From 1959-1965 it was deployed at many different Air Force Bases stretching from upper state New York all the way to New Mexico. Three different models of the Atlas, the D, E and F were put in the field. Each one was better than its predecessor, but due to the volatile nature of its liquid fuel the Atlas was retired only six year after coming online. Atlas Missile Launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California The Titan Missile The Titan was the largest ICBM ever deployed by the United States. Two versions of the Titan, the I and II were deployed from 1962-1987. The Titan I only lasted three years and was replaced by the much more advanced Titan II. The Titan held a nine megaton nuclear warhead, making it the most powerful single nuclear weapon in American history. Titans were finally retired in the mid-1980's due to their high cost and a series of accidents. The Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile was also used by NASA during the Gemini program. The Minuteman IA & IB Missiles The Minuteman IA and IB were the first solid fueled ICBM ever deployed by the United States. Due to its limited range of 4,300 miles the IA was only deployed out of Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The Minuteman IB was an improvement over the IA version. Specifically, it had a lighter weight motor housing that allowed it to strike targets up to 6,000 miles away. It was first deployed out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. Minuteman missile test launch from Vandemnburg AFB The Minuteman II Missile The Minuteman II had an improved second stage engine. Due to its specifications the missile could carry a 1.2 megaton warhead. The first Minuteman II's were deployed out of Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota in 1966. It was also the missile that was in the silo at Delta-09, now part of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, for the longest period. A Minuteman II missile on alert in a silo. The Minuteman III Missile The Minuteman III is the most current version of the Minuteman missile. It was first deployed in 1970 and was the first ICBM to hold MIRVs (Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles). It is able to carry one, two or three warheads that can strike separate targets miles away from each other. The Minuteman III is the only ICBM still deployed by the United States. As of 2017 there are over 400 Minuteman III missiles on alert in the Great Plains. A Minuteman III missile booster is lowered into a launch tube at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The American ICBM Program American military planners began developing ballistic missiles immediately after World War II. But by the late 1940s, America's missile program began to languish, largely because the Nation's nuclear superiority seemed secure. Following the Soviet's successful H-bomb test, two independent US organizations reevaluated the strategic importance of ICBMs to national security. Uniformed air force officer surrounded by missile models First Generation ICBMs: Atlas and Titan The Atlas was essentially a highly evolved version of the German V-2 missile, which Germany had used against the Allies during the waning years of World War II. In October 1955, the Air Force contracted with the Glenn L. Martin Company to produce a new ICBM called the Titan. Preparing an Atlas Missile for launch Strength in Numbers: "The Missile Gap" In October 1957, when the Soviet Union announced it had used a liquid-fueled ICBM to launch Sputnik into orbit, American scientists and politicians feared a significant "missile gap." Within months, journalists and intelligence analysts began asserting that the Soviet missile force could outnumber the American arsenal by as much as 16 to one by 1960. A Titan I missile ready to launch Weapon System "Q" Colonel Edward Hall and his staff of engineers diligently researched their solid-fuel missile program. The new missile, initially dubbed "Weapon System Q," was the first strategic weapon capable of true mass production. Missile standing at a lest launch pad connected to a tower Developing the Minuteman I By the end of March 1958, at least seven or the Nation's foremost aircraft manufacturers, including the Boeing Airplane Company, were competing to build the new missile. During the next few months, the rest of the Minuteman missile team came into place. Much of the development work for Minuteman took place in northern Utah. Following two aborted launch attempts, the Air Force successfully fired the first Minuteman missile at 11:00 a. m. on February 1, 1961. A tall slender missile stands at the ready on a launchpad Deactivation of the Minuteman II Weapon System On September 27, 1991, President Bush announced on national television his "plan for peace." As part of the plan, Bush called for "the withdrawal from alert, within 72 hours," of all 450 Minuteman II missiles, including those at Ellsworth AFB. Airman stands on the rear of a blastdoor Minuteman and Minute Man In 1958, the US Air Force named their newest nuclear missile system in honor of the Revolutionary War Minute Men of Lexington and Concord. Learn more about why this name matters. Captain Parker statue at Lexington Green in front of a Minuteman Missile, 1960 Ending The Arms Race With A START On 31 July 1991, President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Strategic Reduction Arms Treaty (START Treaty) negotiated the largest and most complex arms control treaty in history. Its final implementation in late 2001 resulted in the removal of about 80 percent of all strategic nuclear weapons then in existence Charlottesville: A Fictional Account of a Nuclear Attack In 1979, the U.S. Senate commissioned a study on the effects of nuclear war. They wanted to know what would happen to government, the economy, and society if nuclear war were to break out between the USSR and the United States. What would the country be like afterwards? The result was an official study titled, “The Effects of Nuclear War,” which included a unique fictional imagining of the aftermath of a full-scale nuclear war on the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. A 1970s Charlottesville street scene The 44th Missile Wing and Ellsworth Air Force Base Typical of all Minuteman installations, the forces at Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) were organized into a missile wing. The 44th Strategic Missile Wing at Ellsworth AFB was activated in 1963, and was comprised of three 50-missile squadrons: the 66th, 67th, and 68th Strategic Missile Squadrons. Logo of the 44th Missile Wing Park Film "Beneath the Plains" illustrates the Minuteman Missile Story In the spring of 2018, the park premiered “Beneath The Plains: the Minuteman Missile On Alert” after over three years of development. The film is on permanent exhibition at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site visitor center in South Dakota. Site Improvements Enhance Access to Cold War Resources When constructed for the US Air Force in the early 1960s, the last thing designers wanted at active missile facilities was visitors. Since the park began public tours in 2004, the lack of adequate parking had limited access to the sites by visitors and led to damage at both sites. Visitor Center Exhibits explore the Cold War world of Minuteman Missiles Concurrent with the design and construction of the visitor center completed in 2014, exhibit design began, focused first on determining themes and perspective in order to develop the best approach for the space available. Completed in 2016, these exhibits lead visitors to make intellectual and emotional connections between the park’s exhibits and their own experiences so that they understand, appreciate, and help preserve the park’s resources. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991 The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed on July 31, 1991 by President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The treaty limited the number of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear warheads either country could possess and effectively ended the Cold War era nuclear arms race. Presidents Bush and Gorbachev sign a treaty ICBM Evolutions Following the Soviet launch of Sputnik, American ICBM programs underwent a rapid design and implementation. While the Atlas and Titan programs offered improvements over the systems that preceded them, each had its shortcomings. The Minuteman was designed to overcome these deficiencies. Likewise, during the seven years the Minuteman system was constructed, technology and war planning policy led to changes within the design of silos and control center facilities Delta Flight: Reflections of a Cold Warrior This essay was written in 2002 by Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Craig Manson prior to the dedication of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. As an Air Force officer, Mr. Manson served as a missile combat crew member at Ellsworth Air Force Base, and served alerts in the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility now preserved as part of the park. Kennedy, Rockefeller, and Civil Defense In May 1961, as Chair of the Civil Defense Committee of the Conference of Governors, Nelson Rockefeller met with President Kennedy to advocate for a national fallout shelter program. Two weeks later, Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress, noting the “apathy, indifference, and skepticism” surrounding civil defense policy and asking for appropriations for “a much strengthened Federal-State civil defense program.” Artist's rendition of a Temporary Basement Fallout Shelter JROTC Students Visit Minuteman Missile National Historic Site In 2019, the National Park Service’s Washington, DC Office of Interpretation, Education and Volunteers (WASO IEV) and Kutztown University piloted a new program that brings Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) high school students and university students (majoring in history or education) to military themed park units for place-based learning experiences. In April, one of these programs was hosted at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. A park ranger and students stand around an armored vehicle. Minuteman Missile Deployment and Site Selection The Air Force organized the Minuteman force into a series of administrative units called "wings," each comprised of three or four 50-missile squadrons. Each squadron was further subdivided into five smaller units, called "flights." A flight consisted of a single, manned, launch control facility, linked to ten, unmanned, underground, missile silos. The silos were separated from the launch control facility and from each other by a distance of several miles. drawing of the six missile fields on a map of the upper Midwestern United States Minuteman Comes to Ellsworth Air Force Base Military strategists began planning for a second Minuteman installation shortly after work got underway at Malmstrom AFB. In June 1960, the Air Force was authorized to add another 150 missiles to the Minuteman force. By early October, military strategists had narrowed their search for a new site to three locations in North and South Dakota. On January 5, 1961, US Senator Francis Case of South Dakota announced that Ellsworth AFB would be the second missile field. Historic view of construction at a control center site showing the underground capsule A Silo A Day On September 11, 1961, the groundbreaking ceremony for Ellsworth AFB's Minuteman installations took place at Site L-6 near Bear Butte. The festivities started with a bang. While the Sturgis High School band played, representatives from Boeing, Kiewit, the Corps of Engineers, and Ellsworth AFB set off an explosive charge to begin the excavation. workers construct a missile silo Backbone of the US Nuclear Arsenal While the Ellsworth AFB sites were under construction, the Air Force was building several other Minuteman installations. By the end of 1967, the Nation had 1,000 Minuteman missiles on alert in six separate deployment areas located throughout the north-central United States. A family poses in a launch control center in the mid-1960s. The Next Generations: Minuteman II and III By the time planning began for the final Minuteman deployment area, the Air Force had developed a vastly improved version of the missile. Called Minuteman II, the new missile offered improved range, greater payload, more flexible targeting, and greater accuracy, leading one Air Force spokesperson to estimate that its "kill capacity" was eight times that of Minuteman I. Life-size missile models at sunset Testimony Of Tim Pavek In the early autumn of 1999, Tim Pavek, Minuteman II Deactivation Program Manager of Ellsworth Air Force Base testified before a subcommittee of the United States Congress in support of establishing Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. This testimony was critical in outlining the reasoning why Launch Control Facility Delta-01 and Launch Facility Delta-09 should be protected and preserved as the first National Park unit specifically designated for the Cold War. National Park Getaway: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Hidden in plain sight, along a heavily visited tourist corridor, lay the frontlines of the Cold War. From 1963 to 1993, while happy families, couples, and adventurers drove I-90 through South Dakota on their way to Mount Rushmore or Yellowstone, missileers sat underground. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site allows the public to peek into the Cold War world of nuclear deterrence. a small domed structure in a vast prairie Minuteman Missile Area Landowners Association To ensure that the government took landowners’ rights into consideration during site selection and fairly compensated landowners, a group of farmers and ranchers formed the Minuteman Missile Area Landowners Association (MALA) in the early 1960s. MALA disseminated information to area landowners, believing that working collectively would aid the defense effort while safeguarding their private interests. Behind Blast Doors Two Air Force officers served 24-hour tours underground as watchkeepers over ten Minuteman II missiles during the Cold War. Learn more about the routines they followed while working the front line of the Cold War. Officer at an electronics console. Sputnik, The First Satellite On Oct. 4, 1957, Sputnik 1 successfully launched and entered Earth's orbit. Thus, began the space age. The successful launch shocked the world, giving the former Soviet Union the distinction of putting the first human-made object into space. The word 'Sputnik' originally meant 'fellow traveler,' but has become synonymous with 'satellite' in modern Russian. Historic image showing a Soviet technician putting the finishing touches on Sputnik 1. The Kennedy Administration and the First Minuteman Deployment Democrats campaigned against Republican Cold War policies, charging that they had allowed the Soviets to get ahead of the United States in missile development, creating a missile gap. The “gap” represented the difference between the number of missiles it was believed the Soviets possessed and the number of American missiles. Ironically, a missile gap did not exist. President Kennedy with an Air Force Officer Mapping the Missile Fields Nukewatch’s Missile Silo Project, which resulted in the mapping of one thousand missile silo sites across the country, was intended to be a high profile project capable of furthering public discussion on nuclear weapons. It occurred to members of the organization that while the Soviet Union knew where all of the American ICBMs were based (and had targeted them with their own ICBMs), the location of these facilities had largely been forgotten by the American public. Detail of a map showing the missile field of South Dakota in the western part of the state Anti-nuclear Activists and Protest Actions Acts of resistance against America’s nuclear defense program began in the late 1950s and included both solitary protests and organized groups. Individual protests tended to be carried out by local residents, while the early group actions were typically organized by national groups. By the 1980s, wide-spread locally-based activism occurred throughout the missile fields. Activists hold a banner at the gate to a missile silo. Out of the Ashes of World War II The term, Cold War, would come to define the political, social, and economic history of the second half of the twentieth century. More than merely a military standoff, the Cold War offered a stable international system forged by the world’s emerging two superpowers–the United States and the Soviet Union–that lasted more than four decades. Tanks parade in Red Square in front of a communist banner Zones of Contention The mutual antagonism of the Soviets and Americans, leading to the Cold War, developed after World War II as the two sides competed over a number of geographic and political zones of contention. Seated leaders at the Potsdam conference, 1945 The "Underground" Air Force The Air Force took a major step toward achieving its ideal basing system in 1960 with the development of Titan II, which used storable liquid propellants. The Air Force could store Titan II missiles with fully-loaded propellant tanks, and fire them directly from underground silos. Nonetheless, Titan II missiles still needed constant attention from an on-site crew. An illustration of a self-contained Titan II launch complex showing the silo and control center Declarations of Cold War Tensions between the two countries escalated during the post-World War II period and declarations by leaders on both sides, including Stalin and Churchill, and strategists, such as United States diplomat George Kennan, began to formally announce the existence of a Cold War. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill speaks to an audience American Cold War Policy By 1947 it had become apparent to most observers that the world was splitting in two–East and West–leaving the inevitable conflict of the Cold War. Quickly the lines in the sand were drawn even deeper as the Soviets and Americans clashed ideologically and militarily on a number of fronts. German children wave at an American airplane Origins of the Nuclear Arms Race "We will not be aggressors," he said, "but we ... have and will maintain a massive capability to strike back." Eisenhower's comments reflected the doctrinal basis behind much of America's strategic planning during the Cold War era. A man briefs President Eisenhower in the Oval Office JROTC and NPS Collaboration – Expanding Our Stories Over the course of the 2018-19 academic years, the National Park Service’s Washington, DC Office of Interpretation, Education and Volunteers (WASO IEV), with support from Kutztown University, has overseen a series of pilot programs aimed to facilitate unique, place-based learning experiences in national parks for military youth throughout the United States. Female Missileers The Air Force restricted its female members to noncombat positions until the late 1970s. Fighting against the policy, Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire pushed for the integration of women on missile crews, stating that it was unlikely that women would be exposed to enemy fire in a position launching missiles. In 1977 reporter Andy Plattner asked, “Should women be assigned as missile launch officers, who potentially would be firing nuclear missiles in the event of war?” Female missileer officer at a missile console, 1980s Delta-01 Cultural Landscape The Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was both the first solid-fueled and the first remote launch ICBM. Launch Control Facility Delta-01 remained on continuous alert for almost 30 years, from 1964 until 1991. The cultural landscape, with its support buildings, recreational landscape features, and circulation patterns, preserves and illustrates the human requirements of a complex technological missile defense system such as the Minuteman program. The Delta-01 compound is a low, long building that blends into the surrounding ranch landscape. President Eisenhower "Wages Peace" Shortly after the lifting of the Berlin Blockade, in August 1949, the Soviet Union broke the American nuclear monopoly by developing its own atomic bomb. This development forced the United States to reevaluate its defense posture and accelerated the creation of even more powerful weapons, such as the hydrogen bomb, to regain its nuclear superiority. As president, Eisenhower struggled to balance defense and spending. President Dwight D. Eisenhower standing with Lyndon B. Johnson and others “Project Solarium” As Commander-in-Chief and as a former Army General, Eisenhower at least exerted greater control over the military. He called for a reconsideration of the country’s Cold War policies upon taking office and initiated “Project Solarium”—named for the room of the White House where the project was discussed—which requested three blue-ribbon, top secret panels to separately consider and propose a strategy for America’s Cold War policy. A 1960s view of the White House Solarium The Problem of Massive Retaliation Massive retaliation limited the Eisenhower administration’s policy options. The decision not to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam called into question the administration’s policy of massive retaliation and deterrence. Massive retaliation might have been a successful policy for keeping the Cold War in balance and an option for stopping a major Soviet advance into Western Europe–although it was never put to this test–but it did not answer everything. The Shock of Sputnik On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched into orbit the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik. Ham radio operators in the eastern United States turned their dials to lower frequency bands and anxiously listened as the 184-pound Sputnik emitted a mechanical " . . . beep . . . beep . . . beep . . . " while passing overhead. A man and woman share a radio headset Civil Defense Through Eisenhower As Cold War tensions escalated throughout the 1950’s, both United States and the Soviet Union were forced to confront the unprecedented prospect of sudden, massive losses to their populations. The question of civil defense—the protection of civilian lives during a nuclear exchange—was passionately debated in the United States. Cartoon of Bert The Turtle practicing Duck and Cover Series: Eisenhower and the Nuclear Arms Race in the 1950s "We will not be aggressors," said President Eisenhower, "but we ... have and will maintain a massive capability to strike back." Eisenhower's comments reflected the doctrinal basis behind much of America's strategic planning during the Cold War era. Learn more about how the Eisenhower administration moved beyond containment and addressed new Soviet threats. President Eisenhower with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev Series: Cold War Civil Defense: From "Duck and Cover" to “Gun Thy Neighbor” The very notion of citizen-constructed civil defense—responsibility for fallout protection undertaken by individual American suburban families—has been depicted by some historians as a cynical, low-cost ploy to calm the fears of and elicit compliance from the American pubic in the terrifying face of nuclear brinksmanship over which they had no control. Photograph of a display of survival supplies for the well-stocked fallout shelter, ca.1961. Series: Minuteman Missiles and the Nuclear Arms Race The Minuteman missile was a direct result of the Cold War nuclear arms race. Powerful, accurate, reliable, and capable of being economically mass produced, the solid-fueled Minuteman missile was the Nation's first truly effective nuclear deterrent system. For three decades, a 1000 missile force remained on continuous alert—forming the backbone of the American nuclear arsenal, and serving as an important instrument of American diplomacy. Black and white photo of a missile lifting off from a launch pad with flame and smoke below it. Series: A Cold War Cast Of Thousands "There’s a cost to any system like this. Today you can drive around the missile fields and see some of these old sites, abandoned sites, you know, people lost property. They lost these homesteads they had grown up on. For some people, they lost a sense of security. Other people gained a sense of security. There are stories to be told in all of these sites. Just because MAD worked, doesn’t mean that we should ignore all of the stuff that went into making it happen..." ~ Historian Gretchen Heefner Three Air Force Officers stand at the open hood of a vehicle Series: Origins of the Cold War The term, Cold War, would come to define the political, social, and economic history of the second half of the twentieth century. More than merely a military standoff, the Cold War offered a stable international system forged by the world’s emerging two superpowers–the United States and the Soviet Union–that lasted more than four decades. This system formed almost immediately following World War II. Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Joseph Stalin seated in three chairs Series: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) were first deployed by the United States in 1959 and continue to be a critical weapon in the American nuclear arsenal today. ICBMs have ranges between 6,000 to 9,300 miles, making virtually any target in the world vulnerable. Due to their powerful and deadly nature ICBMs are considered a strategic defensive weapon. To learn more about the different types of ICBMs click on the links below. Scale drawing of Atlas, Titan I, and Minuteman II missiles

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