New Command scenario: Deter, Detect, Defend

May 18, 2014 · Posted in Command 

Author: Christopher Comars aka Randomizer.

Defending North America, August 1962

Even before the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, a big fear of North Americans was the threat of manned bombers attacking from the Soviet Union.  Concern over a "Bomber Gap" and "Missile Gap" and worry over the vulnerability of American cities to nuclear attack were very real.  School kids and adult workers alike practiced "Duck and Cover" drills as the immediate action should an atomic attack occur.  Government, business and private fallout shelters were everywhere, many stocked with food and water in anticipation of an attack.  And civil defence authorities drummed it into the population that an attack could happen at any time and with very little notice.

In 1958 the United States and Canada created the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) and although the Canadian military contribution was minor compared to that of the USAF, by virtue of geography Canada was essential to America’s air defence and was an equal partner in the NORAD command structure.  Both the RCAF and USAF Air Defense Commands were subordinated to NORAD HQ.

NORAD’s motto and Mission Statement was Deter, Detect and Defend.  It was to remain a model of a successful bilateral defence treaty for decades.

In this scenario, you are Commander of NORAD Region 25 headquartered at McChord AFB near Tacoma WA.  A full scale nuclear attack is anticipated and DEFCON 1 has been ordered.  You will get radar information from stations including those on the Pinetree Line as well as radar picket ships and aircraft over the Pacific ocean.  The crisis has escalated into nuclear war very fast so your interceptor squadrons are largely at peacetime alert status.  This was generally two aircraft at Ready +5, two or four at Ready +60 and the remainder unarmed and unready unless conducting training flights.

Release of nuclear weapons has been authorized and confirmed by the National Command Authority.  We do not know or care what sequence of political or military events spawned this full-scale nuclear war or even which side is actually striking first.

Defend the named cities in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia from the incoming Soviet bombers.  SAC has commenced offensive operations in accordance with SIOP-62 so there are no tankers or EW assets to support your mission but the Army’s Nike Hercules batteries have been placed under your command in accordance with the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system.


Scenario Designer’s Notes:

Deter, Detect, Defend is of course entirely fictional and probably impossible even had the Soviets been willing to initiate a nuclear first strike.  At this time (mid-1962) there was certainly a bomber and a missile gap but one that found the United States possessing overwhelming superiority in deliverable weapons and delivery systems.  The Soviet long-ranged bombing force numbered in the low hundreds with very few tankers and none of the bombers had the unrefuelled range to reach the CONUS.  Their Strategic Rocket forces had operational ICBMs probably numbering in the single digits.  By way of contrast the Strategic Air Command (SAC) had over 2000 B-47 bombers alone supported by almost 1000 tankers.  Atlas, Titan, Minuteman and Polaris missiles completed the nuclear triad.  SAC estimated that they could deliver more than 2000 megatons onto the Soviet Union within 48-hours.

It is said that when JFK and his people were briefed in 1961 by the outgoing Eisenhower administration on the actual state of the USA-USSR nuclear arsenals they refused to believe that America’s strategic superiority was so great.  After all, the Democrats had successfully campaigned on the basis of America’s "criminal" weakness in all things nuclear.  Of course these facts were kept secret from the general public but gradually most of the interceptors and all the air-defence missile batteries passed from the scene.  This scenario was designed to see what may have happened had they been put to the ultimate test against the Soviet threat as it was perceived to exist at the time.

Under the provisions of Scenario Author’s Licence, RCAF Comox and 409 All-Weather Interceptor Squadron (the Nighthawks) equipped with their brand new CF-101B Voodoos is under command of the NORAD 25th Region HQ.  That said, the USAF fighter-interceptor squadrons and active Nike-Hercules battery locations should be correct for mid-1962.  However the US radar net is representative rather than absolutely accurate as I was unable to locate those details for the time-frame of the scenario.  The locations of the Pinetree Line radar stations is accurate but their radars are essentially generic.

Thanks for playing and any suggestions for improving he scenario are most welcome.


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