by Dr. David F. Felsburg, Ph. D.
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Colonel Starker had been through this process dozens of times and with the calm, determined and experienced voice recognized by all present, he reviewed the current status for the President.
"Mr. President, we have 250 confirmed missile launches detected and reported by two DSP satellites. The locations of all the launches are validated as known missile launch facilities within the USSR. A total of 250 missiles have been corroborated by PARCS or at least one of two ground-based BMEWS sensors. The trajectories and projected points of impact are both military and civilian targets. The military targets are command and control centers, including the Pentagon and Cheyenne Mountain; major missile launch capabilities; and bases, posts and ports where major nuclear weapon assets are resident from all four military services. The civilian targets are all major population centers in the US or Canada. The Warning System Assessment from Captain Dugan is forthcoming."
Remarkably, the conference call participants could hear an aide in the Whitehouse tell the President that the Premier of the Soviet Union, Nicolai Matovic, was on the Red Phone asking for permission to talk with the President immediately. The Red Phone was the Washington-Moscow Hotline and required no dialing for either national authority. The President authorized a short discussion with the Premier while he remained on the Telecon. Matovic stated that USSR intelligence resources were reporting US activities to deploy nuclear bombers and start the launch countdown sequence for hundreds of nuclear missiles. No one asked the question of how the Premier knew all this. Each side was aware that their intelligence resources had been in place for years and were reporting accurate status information. Finding the Premier’s specific intelligence sources was a task for another day. For now, the fact that the Soviets knew the US was responding quickly to their missile launches was sufficient to achieve the objectives of Détente.
Premier Matovic stated emphatically, “Mister President, the Soviet Union has no knowledge of any missile launches anywhere in the world. Specifically, the USSR did not launch the 250 missile you are currently tracking.”
General Gerr reminded the Telecon participants that it was now 0810Z and the closest attacking missiles were now approaching ninety seconds to their impact points on coastal targets. The decision for the President’s missile launch authorization had to be made immediately.