Pres. Kennedy decided to set up a naval quarantine that blockaded Soviet ship proceeding to Cuba. Nikita Khrushchev ordered the Soviet ships to stop deadMessage 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2010View SourcePres. Kennedy decided to set up a naval "quarantine" that blockaded Soviet ship proceeding to Cuba. Nikita Khrushchev ordered the Soviet ships to stop dead in the water rather than challenge the quarantine. (JFK and the Unspeakable, pgs. 20-23)
On October 23, 1962, the Director of Naval Intelligence failed to inform the White House or Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara that new High-Frequency Direction Finding (HFDF) data showed that many of the Soviet merchant ships bound for Cuba had already stopped dead in the water or had turned back for Russia. When the mistake was discovered the next day, McNamara was furious with Admiral Anderson, the Chief of Naval Operations.(American Cryptology during the Cold War, 1945-1989 by Dr. Thomas R. Johnson, Book II, p. 329)
NSA's performance during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Book II, pp. 317-332) was excellent, especially in the important area of tracking the movements of Soviet merchant ships carrying Soviet troops, weapons and equipment to Cuba.
This newly pubished information adds to evidence indicating just how out of the control the US military was while Kennedy was President.
For example, on October 26, the US Air Force launched the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Marshall Islands. The Soviet Union could have easily seen this as the beginning of a nuclear attack. The US forces were already at the top rung of the nuclear war status, Defensive Condition (DefCon-2).
Also Strategic Air Command airborne-alert bombers deliberately flew past their customary turnaround points. This was an unambiguous threat that Soviet radar operators would certainly have recognized and report. (JFK and the Unspeakable, pgs. 24-29) These events may have been due to chance or bad luck, and things just getting out of hand, as Kennedy feared, or the military was playing games to get a war going. It is anyone's guess.
Unknown to the US at the time at the beginning of the missile crisis, there had been a total of 162 nuclear warheads in Cuba and on 26 October, these Soviet missiles were ready prepared for launching. (p.30)
The Soviet also had nuclear armed torpedos on the subs headed toward Cuba. But shooting them off would have been suicide for the Soviet submarine or subs.
On October 19, 1962, at a meeting with his Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kennedy refused their advice to bomb and to invade Cuba for the purpose removing the Soviet missiles. From the beginning of his Presidency, Kennedy encountered pressure for a nuclear first strike against the Soviets. The military had a "winning strategy" as a top-secret military priority. At a July 20, 1961, National Security meeting, the Net Evaluation Subcommittee of the Joint Chiefs presented a plan for a first strike. Kennedy asked how long US citizens would have to remain in fall-out shelters. Kennedy had been briefed by Strategic Air Command that estimates if the US did a preempt first strike, we would have 12 million (US) casualties. In September 12, 1963, General Johnson was talking about an estimated 30 million casualties out to a 1968 time frame, and it would be impossible to the US to achieve nuclear superiority. General Johnson made a further statement, "Each of the strategies used against the USSR would result in at least 140 million fatalities in the USSR. Our problem is how to catch more of the Soviet missiles before they are launched " (JFK and the Unspeakable, pgs. 234- 242)
My theory is the that the US military felt they knew better than the young President and they thought that the US had to act now before the Soviet built up their nuclear forces, so they did an end-run around Kennedy.
The successful defusing of the Cuban Missile Crisis had a profound effect on both Pres. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. The two men had been to the brink of nuclear war together and were determined never to come that close to the brink again. Their secret letters between each other laid the groundwork for the trust both leaders needed during this crisis.
These two leaders started communicating with each other by secret letters a few months after Kennedy as elected. (JFK and the Unspeakable)
"A partnership, a thawing was taking place," as William Corson put it. Negotiation began for a treaty to terminate the testing of nuclear weapons both sides had been testing with increasing regularity. A secret agreement was made to remove obsolete Jupiter missiles from Turkey in exchange for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba.
Nikita Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs that the missile crisis arose because, "we were quite certain that the (Bay of Pigs) invasion was only the beginning and that the Americans would not let Cuba alone.
Khrushchev had concluded that the Cold War was bankrupting the Soviet Union, and his country could not survive without an end to the arms race. He began demanding more and more internal Soviet reforms.
The CIA Directorate of Intelligence (the intelligence analysis department, and the good part of the CIA) had been making it clear to higher-ups since the 1970s that the Soviet Union was rotten from the inside out and would ultimately collapse under its own weight. Any data not conforming to the Reagan party line was left out of the National Security Estimates. (overseen by our present Secretary of Defense, Gates) (p. 467) Reagan got raise the national debt by three trillion dollars due his administrations unnecessary spending on defense.