Information

Americans seize 1,100 pounds of uranium in effort to prevent Soviets from developing A-bomb


On April 17, 1945, U.S. Pash commandeers over half a ton of uranium at Strassfurt, Germany, in an effort to prevent the Soviets from developing an A-bomb.

Pash was head of the Alsos Group, organized to search for German scientists in the postwar environment in order to prevent the Soviets, previously Allies but now a potential threat, from capturing any scientists and putting them to work at their own atomic research plants. Uranium piles were also rich “catches,” as they were necessary to the development of atomic weapons.


Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom (which initiated the original Tube Alloys project) and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the actual bombs. As engineer districts by convention carried the name of the city where they were located, the Army component of the project was designated the Manhattan District Manhattan gradually superseded the official codename, Development of Substitute Materials, for the entire project. Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (equivalent to about $23 billion in 2019). [1] Over 90 percent of the cost was for building factories and to produce fissile material, with less than 10 percent for development and production of the weapons. Research and production took place at more than thirty sites across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada

Two types of atomic bombs were developed concurrently during the war: a relatively simple gun-type fission weapon and a more complex implosion-type nuclear weapon. The Thin Man gun-type design proved impractical to use with plutonium, and therefore a simpler gun-type called Little Boy was developed that used uranium-235, an isotope that makes up only 0.7 percent of natural uranium. Since it was chemically identical to the most common isotope, uranium-238, and had almost the same mass, separating the two proved difficult. Three methods were employed for uranium enrichment: electromagnetic, gaseous and thermal. Most of this work was performed at the Clinton Engineer Works at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

In parallel with the work on uranium was an effort to produce plutonium, which was discovered by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1940. After the feasibility of the world's first artificial nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1, was demonstrated in 1942 at the Metallurgical Laboratory in the University of Chicago, the Project designed the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge and the production reactors at the Hanford Site in Washington state, in which uranium was irradiated and transmuted into plutonium. The plutonium was then chemically separated from the uranium, using the bismuth phosphate process. The Fat Man plutonium implosion-type weapon was developed in a concerted design and development effort by the Los Alamos Laboratory.

The project was also charged with gathering intelligence on the German nuclear weapon project. Through Operation Alsos, Manhattan Project personnel served in Europe, sometimes behind enemy lines, where they gathered nuclear materials and documents, and rounded up German scientists. Despite the Manhattan Project's tight security, Soviet atomic spies successfully penetrated the program. The first nuclear device ever detonated was an implosion-type bomb at the Trinity test, conducted at New Mexico's Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range on 16 July 1945. Little Boy and Fat Man bombs were used a month later in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, with Manhattan Project personnel serving as bomb assembly technicians, and as weaponeers on the attack aircraft. In the immediate postwar years, the Manhattan Project conducted weapons testing at Bikini Atoll as part of Operation Crossroads, developed new weapons, promoted the development of the network of national laboratories, supported medical research into radiology and laid the foundations for the nuclear navy. It maintained control over American atomic weapons research and production until the formation of the United States Atomic Energy Commission in January 1947.


The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II: A Collection of Primary Sources

Seventy years ago this month, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, and the Japanese government surrendered to the United States and its allies. The nuclear age had truly begun with the first military use of atomic weapons. With the material that follows, the National Security Archive publishes the most comprehensive on-line collection to date of declassified U.S. government documents on the atomic bomb and the end of the war in the Pacific. Besides material from the files of the Manhattan Project, this collection includes formerly “Top Secret Ultra” summaries and translations of Japanese diplomatic cable traffic intercepted under the “Magic” program. Moreover, the collection includes for the first time translations from Japanese sources of high level meetings and discussions in Tokyo, including the conferences when Emperor Hirohito authorized the final decision to surrender.[1]

Ever since the atomic bombs were exploded over Japanese cities, historians, social scientists, journalists, World War II veterans, and ordinary citizens have engaged in intense controversy about the events of August 1945. John Hersey’s Hiroshima, first published in the New Yorker in 1946 encouraged unsettled readers to question the bombings while church groups and some commentators, most prominently Norman Cousins, explicitly criticized them. Former Secretary of War Henry Stimson found the criticisms troubling and published an influential justification for the attacks in Harper’s.[2] During the 1960s the availability of primary sources made historical research and writing possible and the debate became more vigorous. Historians Herbert Feis and Gar Alperovitz raised searching questions about the first use of nuclear weapons and their broader political and diplomatic implications. The controversy, especially the arguments made by Alperovitz and others about “atomic diplomacy” quickly became caught up in heated debates over Cold War “revisionism.” The controversy simmered over the years with major contributions by Martin Sherwin and Barton J. Bernstein but it became explosive during the mid-1990s when curators at the National Air and Space Museum met the wrath of the Air Force Association over a proposed historical exhibit on the Enola Gay.[3] The NASM exhibit was drastically scaled-down but historians and journalist continued to engage in the debate. Alperovitz, Bernstein, and Sherwin made new contributions as did other historians, social scientists, and journalists including Richard B. Frank, Herbert Bix, Sadao Asada, Kai Bird, Robert James Maddox, Sean Malloy, Robert P. Newman, Robert S. Norris, Tsuyoshi Hagesawa, and J. Samuel Walker.[4]

The continued controversy has revolved around the following, among other, questions:

  • were the atomic strikes necessary primarily to avert an invasion of Japan in November 1945?
  • Did Truman authorize the use of atomic bombs for diplomatic-political reasons-- to intimidate the Soviets--or was his major goal to force Japan to surrender and bring the war to an early end?
  • If ending the war quickly was the most important motivation of Truman and his advisers to what extent did they see an “atomic diplomacy” capability as a “bonus”?
  • To what extent did subsequent justification for the atomic bomb exaggerate or misuse wartime estimates for U.S. casualties stemming from an invasion of Japan?
  • Were there alternatives to the use of the weapons? If there were, what were they and how plausible are they in retrospect? Why were alternatives not pursued?
  • How did the U.S. government plan to use the bombs? What concepts did war planners use to select targets? To what extent were senior officials interested in looking at alternatives to urban targets? How familiar was President Truman with the concepts that led target planners chose major cities as targets?
  • What did senior officials know about the effects of atomic bombs before they were first used. How much did top officials know about the radiation effects of the weapons?
  • Did President Truman make a decision, in a robust sense, to use the bomb or did he inherit a decision that had already been made?
  • Were the Japanese ready to surrender before the bombs were dropped? To what extent had Emperor Hirohito prolonged the war unnecessarily by not seizing opportunities for surrender?
  • If the United States had been more flexible about the demand for “unconditional surrender” by explicitly or implicitly guaranteeing a constitutional monarchy would Japan have surrendered earlier than it did?
  • How decisive was the atomic bombings to the Japanese decision to surrender?
  • Was the bombing of Nagasaki unnecessary? To the extent that the atomic bombing was critically important to the Japanese decision to surrender would it have been enough to destroy one city?
  • Would the Soviet declaration of war have been enough to compel Tokyo to admit defeat?
  • Was the dropping of the atomic bombs morally justifiable?

This compilation will not attempt to answer these questions or use primary sources to stake out positions on any of them. Nor is it an attempt to substitute for the extraordinary rich literature on the atomic bombings and the end of World War II. Nor does it include any of the interviews, documents prepared after the events, and post-World War II correspondence, etc. that participants in the debate have brought to bear in framing their arguments. Originally this collection did not include documents on the origins and development of the Manhattan Project, although this updated posting includes some significant records for context. By providing access to a broad range of U.S. and Japanese documents, mainly from the spring and summer of 1945, interested readers can see for themselves the crucial source material that scholars have used to shape narrative accounts of the historical developments and to frame their arguments about the questions that have provoked controversy over the years. To help readers who are less familiar with the debates, commentary on some of the documents will point out, although far from comprehensively, some of the ways in which they have been interpreted. With direct access to the documents, readers may develop their own answers to the questions raised above. The documents may even provoke new questions.

Contributors to the historical controversy have deployed the documents selected here to support their arguments about the first use of nuclear weapons and the end of World War II. The editor has closely reviewed the footnotes and endnotes in a variety of articles and books and selected documents cited by participants on the various sides of the controversy.[5] While the editor has a point of view on the issues, to the greatest extent possible he has tried to not let that influence document selection, e.g., by selectively withholding or including documents that may buttress one point of view or the other. The task of compilation involved consultation of primary sources at the National Archives, mainly in Manhattan Project files held in the records of the Army Corps of Engineers, Record Group 77, but also in the archival records of the National Security Agency. Private collections were also important, such as the Henry L. Stimson Papers held at Yale University (although available on microfilm, for example, at the Library of Congress) and the papers of W. Averell Harriman at the Library of Congress. To a great extent the documents selected for this compilation have been declassified for years, even decades the most recent declassifications were in the 1990s.

The U.S. documents cited here will be familiar to many knowledgeable readers on the Hiroshima-Nagasaki controversy and the history of the Manhattan Project. To provide a fuller picture of the transition from U.S.-Japanese antagonism to reconciliation, the editor has done what could be done within time and resource constraints to present information on the activities and points of view of Japanese policymakers and diplomats. This includes a number of formerly top secret summaries of intercepted Japanese diplomatic communications, which enable interested readers to form their own judgments about the direction of Japanese diplomacy in the weeks before the atomic bombings. Moreover, to shed light on the considerations that induced Japan’s surrender, this briefing book includes new translations of Japanese primary sources on crucial events, including accounts of the conferences on August 9 and 14, where Emperor Hirohito made decisions to accept Allied terms of surrender.

[Editor’s Note: Originally prepared in July 2005 this posting has been updated, with new documents, changes in organization, and other editorial changes. As noted, some documents relating to the origins of the Manhattan Project have been included in addition to entries from the Robert P. Meiklejohn diaries and translations of a few Soviet documents, among other items. Moreover, recent significant contributions to the scholarly literature have been taken into account.]


Category: uranium contamination

July 16, 1945 was an auspicious day in the history of humankind and the planet as the US Army’s Manhattan Project detonated Trinity, the first atomic bomb, in Jornada del Muerto, NM. (“Jornada del Muerto” fittingly translates as “Journey of the Dead Man” or “Working Day of the Dead.”) July 16 is also the day of one of the worst nuclear accidents in US history with the Church Rock, NM uranium tailings spill in 1979 on the Navajo nation (occurring 5 months after the nuclear reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island).

An earthen dam holding uranium tailings and other toxic waste ruptured releasing 1,100 tons of uranium waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive water into the Rio Puerco and through Navajo lands. Sheep in the wash keeled over and died as did crops along the riverbank. According to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report the levels of radioactivity in the Rio Puerco near the breached dam were 7000 times that of what is allowed in drinking water.

Larry King, a Church Rock resident who was an underground surveyor at the Church Rock Uranium mine at the time the dam failed in 1979, speaks to a group of anti-uranium activists on the 40 th anniversary of the spill, July 16, 1979. Activists were present from Japan and across the U.S.

Activist + community organizer, Leona Morgan, of Nuclear Issues Study Group, Diné No Nukes and the Radiation Monitoring Project spoke at the Church Rock 40 th Anniversary commemoration. She noted “The Church Rock Chapter of the Navajo Nation passed a resolution in July 2018 opposing the storage and transport of high-level nuclear waste from nuclear power reactors across the country through the local community along the railroad track. There are two proposals for nuclear waste storage of irradiated fuel from power reactors which are going through the neighborhood process as part of the application for a license from the United States nuclear regulatory commission. The Navajo nation currently has a ban on transportation of radioactive materials unless it’s for cleanup of legacy waste from uranium mining or milling for medical purposes. However, the Navajo nation‘s jurisdiction does not extend to state and federal roads and railways. Still there is a need for protection from further contamination of radioactive materials within the homeland of Diné peoples.”

In an effort to end WWII and to beat the Soviets in developing a hydrogen bomb uranium mining under the Manhattan Project began on Navajo and Lakota lands in 1944. Two years later management of the program was transferred to the US Atomic Energy Commission. The Navajo nation provided the bulk of the country’s uranium ore for our nuclear arsenal until uranium prices dropped in the mid 80s and is largely responsible for our winning the Cold War.

However, environmental regulation for mining the ore was nonexistent in the period prior to the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. During this time uranium mining endangered thousands of Navajo workers in addition to producing contamination that persists in adversely affecting air + water quality and contaminating Navajo lands with over 500 abandoned, unsealed former mine sites.

Private companies hired thousands of Navajo men to work the uranium mines and disregarded recommendations to protect miners and mill workers. In 1950 the U.S. Public Health Service began a human testing experiment on Navajo miners without their informed consent during the federal government’s study of the long-term health effects from radiation poisoning. (This study followed the same violation of human rights protocol as the US Public Health Service study on the long-term effects of syphilis on humans by experimenting on non-consenting African American men in what is known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment from 1932 – 1972.)

In May 1952 the Public Health Service and the Colorado Health Department publish a paper called “An interim Report of a Health Study of the Uranium Mines and Mils.

“Everybody is afraid of nuclear war. Are they not waging nuclear war when the miners die from cancer from mining the uranium?” John Trudell (Cyndy Begay holding a photo of her dad.)

The report noted that levels of radioactive radon gas and radon particles (known as “radon daughters”), were so high in reservation mines that they recommended wetting down rocks while drilling to reduce dust which the miners breathed giving respirators to the workers mandating daily showers after a work shift, frequent changes of clothing, loading rocks into wagons immediately after being chipped from the wall to decrease time for radon to escape and for miners to receive pre-employment physicals. Sadly, the recommendations were ignored.

By 1960 the Public Health Service definitely declared that uranium miners faced an elevated risk of pulmonary cancer. However, it wasn’t until June 10, 1967 that the Secretary of Labor issued a regulation declaring that “…no uranium miner could be exposed to radon levels that would induce a higher risk of cancer than that faced by the general population.” By this time, it was too late. In the 15 years after the uranium boom the cancer death rate among the Diné doubled from the early 1970s to the late 1990s while the overall U.S. cancer death rate declined during this same interval.

The text reads “Name: Harvey Speck, Age: 87, Previous work: Uranium miner at the Oljato Moonlight Mine 1956 – 1964.”

As high rates of illness began to occur workers were frequently unsuccessful in court cases seeking compensation. In 1990 Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act which seeks to make compensation available to persons exposed to fallout from nuclear weapons testing and for living uranium miners, mill workers or their survivors who had worked in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona between January 1, 1947 and December 31, 1971. An amendment to this bill is awaiting Congress after its recess that will expand years of coverage from 1971 to the mid 1990s as well as expanding the regions of the US covered.

At the other end of the life spectrum the Navajo Birth Cohort Study is the first prospective epidemiologic study of pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in a uranium-exposed population. The goal of the Navajo Birth Cohort Study (NBCS) is to better understand the relationship between uranium exposures and birth outcomes and early developmental delays on the Navajo Nation. It started in 2014 and has funding through 2024.

The text around JC + Gracie reads “The Navajo Nation encompasses more than 27,000 square miles across three states – New Mexico, Utah + Arizona – and is the largest home for indigenous people in the U.S. From 1944 to 1986 hundreds of uranium and milling operations extracted an estimated 400 million tons of uranium ore from Diné (Navajo) lands. These mining + processing operations have left a legacy of potential exposures to uranium waste from abandoned mines/mills, homes and other structures built with mining waste which impacts the drinking water, livestock + humans.”

“As a heavy metal, uranium primarily damages the kidneys + urinary system. While there have been many studies of environmental + occupational exposure to uranium and associated renal effects in adults, there have been very few studies of other adverse health effects. In 2010 the University of New Mexico partnered with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service and Navajo Division of Health to evaluate the association between environmental contaminants + reproductive birth outcomes.”

“This investigation is called the Navajo Birth Cohort Study and will follow children for 7 years from birth to early childhood. Chemical exposure, stress, sleep, diet + their effects on the children’s physical, cognitive + emotional development will be studied.”

“JC with her younger sister, Gracie (who is a NBCS participant). #stopcanyonmine”

Efforts to mine uranium adjacent to the Grand Canyon have accelerated during the Trump administration. The most pressing threat comes from Canyon Mine located closely to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Because of the plethora of abandoned mines on the reservation the Navajo Nation banned uranium mining on the reservation in 2005.

However, it’s possible still to transport ore from off the reservation across the reservation. Approximately 180 miles of the Canyon Mine haul route would cross the Navajo Nation where trucks hauling ore had 2 separate accidents in 1987.

For more information on these and other uranium related issues at Ground Zero, check:


5 cheap summer vacations for military families

Posted On June 18, 2018 16:36:16

When I’m choosing what vacations we want to take for the summer, I like to take advantage of ALL the discounted (if not FREE) options available to our military family.

So since I’m a huntress for deals and cheap escapes, here are some ideas that we spouses can benefit from this summer.


Marines get Russian helicopters for ‘a more realistic OPFOR’

Posted On September 12, 2019 02:52:05

A report in the Marine Corps Times from Friday, April 27, 2018, by journalist Kyle Rempfer revealed that the U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force Training Command has filed a solicitation for contractors to provide Russian-built Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter or an Mi-17 Hip transport helicopter to serve as accurate opposing forces threat simulation aircraft.

The aircraft would be equipped with electronic tracking pods for integration into simulated combat exercises at the MCAS Yuma Range and Training Area, a large training facility in the Arizona desert. The Yuma Range and Training Area accurately replicates current and potential threat environments throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

According to Rempfer’s report for the Marine Corps Times, the solicitation read in part,
“The [Mi-24] attack helicopter, due to its size, flight profile, firepower and defensive maneuvering capabilities, constitutes a unique threat creating a realistic, dissimilar and credible opposing force.”

In their potential role as a technically realistic opposing force flying against U.S. Marine ground forces in training the helicopters would accurately replicate the threat capabilities of many potential adversary forces. While the Mi-24 attack helicopter is primarily an air-to-ground attack helicopter the report also mentioned a potential role for any Russian helicopters acquired or contracted as providing a simulated opposing force capability against U.S. Marine Helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft to possibly include the UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Super Cobra and MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor.

The U.S. Marine Training Command’s request went on to read, “The scope of this effort is to provide familiarization of flight characteristics, capabilities and limitations of the foreign adversary rotary-wing and propeller driven aircraft,” according to the solicitation. “This will be accomplished by having accessibility to two foreign adversary contractor-provided aircraft that shall participate in certain exercise events as part of a realistic opposing force.”

The request for the opposing forces helicopters will include up to five annual training operations and a maximum of 40 total hours of flight time in VFR (daylight, fair weather Visual Flight Rules) conditions. Of further interest is a notation indicating interest in fixed wing aircraft. Russian fixed wing aircraft such as the Sukhoi Su-27 have already been observed and photographed flying over the Nellis Training Range in Nevada.

In the combined air/ground combat role most commonly performed by the U.S. Marine Corps one relevant adversary aircraft for threat simulation may include the Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO codename “Frogfoot”), although no specific information indicates an interest in the Su-25 from the U.S. Marines.

A remarkable 57 countries currently use the Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter, built at the Mil Helicopter Plant in Moscow, Russia. The aircraft is infamous in western nations for its rugged survivability and significant combat capability. The request for actual Mi-24 Hind helicopters seems to acknowledge the type’s unique and significant capabilities as a potential adversary.

There are currently at least two Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters privately owned in the U.S. by the Lancaster Air Museum in Lancaster, Texas. The aircraft fly frequently at events and airshows around the country.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

More links we like

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Iran Admits Deception

Negotiations with Iran aimed at convincing the Iranians to halt their nuclear program began in 2003. Hassan Rowhani, the man who headed talks with Britain, France and Germany until 2005, told a meeting of Islamic clerics and academics that Iran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear program was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002. He revealed that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran completed the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake at its Isfahan plant. Rowhani also said that on at least two occasions the IAEA obtained information on secret nuclear-related experiments from academic papers published by scientists involved in the work (Telegraph, March 5, 2006) .

At this time, Iran also stepped up the pace of its weapons program by secretly enlarging the uranium enrichment plant at the Natanz site. A U.S. intelligence report also indicated that Iran’s facilities appeared to replicate those used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons in Pakistan (Telegraph, January 22, 2006) . Furthermore, Iran reportedly reached an agreement with North Korea to share with Teheran's nuclear scientists all the data the Koreans received from their nuclear test in October 2006.

The Security Council urged Iran on March 29, 2006, to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities and asked the director of the IAEA to report back on Iran's compliance within 30 days. The Council took its action in a presidential statement, a nonbinding declaration that needs unanimous support, which was possible only after the European authors of the final draft eliminated language suggesting that any Iranian drive to produce nuclear weapons would be a “threat to international peace and security” (New York Times, March 30, 2006) .

In February 2007, an internal European Union document said there was no way to prevent Iran from enriching enough weapons-grade uranium to produce a bomb and that the Iranian program had been slowed by technical limitations rather than diplomatic pressure. The Financial Times quoted the document as saying: “At some stage we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons program” and that “the problems with Iran will not be resolved through economic sanctions alone” (Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2007) .

In April 2007, Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced the Natanz facility had begun “industrial-scale” production of nuclear fuel using a new array of 3,000 centrifuges (AP, April 12, 2007) . A week later, however, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, admitted that some of the centrifuges blew up during the enrichment process. Without giving a precise number, he said that the damages ranged from ten to twenty per cent. Aghazadeh said Iran ultimately hoped to install 50,000 uranium enriching centrifuges at the plant in Natanz. Aghazadeh added it would take four years for Iran to complete its own nuclear fuel cycle (Agence France-Presse, Haaretz, April 17, 2007) . A month later, however, IAEA inspectors concluded that Iran appeared to have solved most of its technological problems and was starting to enrich uranium on a far larger scale than before (New York Times, May 15, 2007) .

In June 2007, Iran’s interior minister said Iran had produced 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of enriched uranium. Experts say that about 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of enriched uranium would be needed for one bomb (AP, June 22, 2007) . Iran’s spiritual leader’s representative to the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, said Tehran was committed to uranium enrichment and termed “nuclear fuel a strategic product for Iran.” He stated his country’s next strategic plan was to produce nuclear fuel locally (Reuters, December 20, 2007) .


Contents

Detailed knowledge of fission and fusion weapons is classified to some degree in virtually every industrialized nation. In the United States, such knowledge can by default be classified as "Restricted Data", even if it is created by persons who are not government employees or associated with weapons programs, in a legal doctrine known as "born secret" (though the constitutional standing of the doctrine has been at times called into question see United States v. Progressive, Inc.). Born secret is rarely invoked for cases of private speculation. The official policy of the United States Department of Energy has been not to acknowledge the leaking of design information, as such acknowledgment would potentially validate the information as accurate. In a small number of prior cases, the U.S. government has attempted to censor weapons information in the public press, with limited success. [6] According to the New York Times, physicist Kenneth W. Ford defied government orders to remove classified information from his book, Building the H Bomb: A Personal History. Ford claims he used only pre-existing information and even submitted a manuscript to the government, which wanted to remove entire sections of the book for concern that foreign nations could use the information. [7]

Though large quantities of vague data have been officially released, and larger quantities of vague data have been unofficially leaked by former bomb designers, most public descriptions of nuclear weapon design details rely to some degree on speculation, reverse engineering from known information, or comparison with similar fields of physics (inertial confinement fusion is the primary example). Such processes have resulted in a body of unclassified knowledge about nuclear bombs that is generally consistent with official unclassified information releases, related physics, and is thought to be internally consistent, though there are some points of interpretation that are still considered open. The state of public knowledge about the Teller–Ulam design has been mostly shaped from a few specific incidents outlined in a section below.

The basic principle of the Teller–Ulam configuration is the idea that different parts of a thermonuclear weapon can be chained together in "stages", with the detonation of each stage providing the energy to ignite the next stage. At a bare minimum, this implies a primary section that consists of an implosion-type fission bomb (a "trigger"), and a secondary section that consists of fusion fuel. The energy released by the primary compresses the secondary through a process called "radiation implosion", at which point it is heated and undergoes nuclear fusion. This process could be continued, with energy from the secondary igniting a third fusion stage Russia's AN602 "Tsar Bomba" is thought to have been a three-stage fission-fusion-fusion device. Theoretically by continuing this process thermonuclear weapons with arbitrarily high yield could be constructed. [ citation needed ] This contrasts with fission weapons which are limited in yield because only so much fission fuel can be amassed in one place before the danger of its accidentally becoming supercritical becomes too great.

Surrounding the other components is a hohlraum or radiation case, a container that traps the first stage or primary's energy inside temporarily. The outside of this radiation case, which is also normally the outside casing of the bomb, is the only direct visual evidence publicly available of any thermonuclear bomb component's configuration. Numerous photographs of various thermonuclear bomb exteriors have been declassified. [8]

The primary is thought to be a standard implosion method fission bomb, though likely with a core boosted by small amounts of fusion fuel (usually 50/50% deuterium/tritium gas) for extra efficiency the fusion fuel releases excess neutrons when heated and compressed, inducing additional fission. When fired, the 239
Pu
or 235
U
core would be compressed to a smaller sphere by special layers of conventional high explosives arranged around it in an explosive lens pattern, initiating the nuclear chain reaction that powers the conventional "atomic bomb".

The secondary is usually shown as a column of fusion fuel and other components wrapped in many layers. Around the column is first a "pusher-tamper", a heavy layer of uranium-238 ( 238
U
) or lead that helps compress the fusion fuel (and, in the case of uranium, may eventually undergo fission itself). Inside this is the fusion fuel itself, usually a form of lithium deuteride, which is used because it is easier to weaponize than liquefied tritium/deuterium gas. This dry fuel, when bombarded by neutrons, produces tritium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen which can undergo nuclear fusion, along with the deuterium present in the mixture. (See the article on nuclear fusion for a more detailed technical discussion of fusion reactions.) Inside the layer of fuel is the "spark plug", a hollow column of fissile material ( 239
Pu
or 235
U
) often boosted by deuterium gas. The spark plug, when compressed, can itself undergo nuclear fission (because of the shape, it is not a critical mass without compression). The tertiary, if one is present, would be set below the secondary and probably be made up of the same materials. [9] [10]

Separating the secondary from the primary is the interstage. The fissioning primary produces four types of energy: 1) expanding hot gases from high explosive charges that implode the primary 2) superheated plasma that was originally the bomb's fissile material and its tamper 3) the electromagnetic radiation and 4) the neutrons from the primary's nuclear detonation. The interstage is responsible for accurately modulating the transfer of energy from the primary to the secondary. It must direct the hot gases, plasma, electromagnetic radiation and neutrons toward the right place at the right time. Less than optimal interstage designs have resulted in the secondary failing to work entirely on multiple shots, known as a "fissile fizzle". The Castle Koon shot of Operation Castle is a good example a small flaw allowed the neutron flux from the primary to prematurely begin heating the secondary, weakening the compression enough to prevent any fusion.

There is very little detailed information in the open literature about the mechanism of the interstage. One of the best sources is a simplified diagram of a British thermonuclear weapon similar to the American W80 warhead. It was released by Greenpeace in a report titled "Dual Use Nuclear Technology". [11] The major components and their arrangement are in the diagram, though details are almost absent what scattered details it does include likely have intentional omissions or inaccuracies. They are labeled "End-cap and Neutron Focus Lens" and "Reflector Wrap" the former channels neutrons to the 235
U
/ 239
Pu
Spark Plug while the latter refers to an X-ray reflector typically a cylinder made out of an X-ray opaque material such as uranium with the primary and secondary at either end. It does not reflect like a mirror instead, it gets heated to a high temperature by the X-ray flux from the primary, then it emits more evenly spread X-rays that travel to the secondary, causing what is known as radiation implosion. In Ivy Mike, gold was used as a coating over the uranium to enhance the blackbody effect. [12] Next comes the "Reflector/Neutron Gun Carriage". The reflector seals the gap between the Neutron Focus Lens (in the center) and the outer casing near the primary. It separates the primary from the secondary and performs the same function as the previous reflector. There are about six neutron guns (seen here from Sandia National Laboratories [13] ) each protruding through the outer edge of the reflector with one end in each section all are clamped to the carriage and arranged more or less evenly around the casing's circumference. The neutron guns are tilted so the neutron emitting end of each gun end is pointed towards the central axis of the bomb. Neutrons from each neutron gun pass through and are focused by the neutron focus lens towards the centre of primary in order to boost the initial fissioning of the plutonium. A "polystyrene Polarizer/Plasma Source" is also shown (see below).

The first U.S. government document to mention the interstage was only recently released to the public promoting the 2004 initiation of the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program. A graphic includes blurbs describing the potential advantage of a RRW on a part by part level, with the interstage blurb saying a new design would replace "toxic, brittle material" and "expensive 'special' material. [which require] unique facilities". [14] The "toxic, brittle material" is widely assumed to be beryllium which fits that description and would also moderate the neutron flux from the primary. Some material to absorb and re-radiate the X-rays in a particular manner may also be used. [15]

Candidates for the "special material" are polystyrene and a substance called "FOGBANK", an unclassified codename. FOGBANK's composition is classified, though aerogel has been suggested as a possibility. It was first used in thermonuclear weapons with the W-76 thermonuclear warhead, and produced at a plant in the Y-12 Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for use in the W-76. Production of FOGBANK lapsed after the W-76 production run ended. The W-76 Life Extension Program required more FOGBANK to be made. This was complicated by the fact that the original FOGBANK's properties weren't fully documented, so a massive effort was mounted to re-invent the process. An impurity crucial to the properties of the old FOGBANK was omitted during the new process. Only close analysis of new and old batches revealed the nature of that impurity. The manufacturing process used acetonitrile as a solvent, which led to at least three evacuations of the FOGBANK plant in 2006. Widely used in the petroleum and pharmaceutical industries, acetonitrile is flammable and toxic. Y-12 is the sole producer of FOGBANK. [16]

Summary Edit

A simplified summary of the above explanation is:

  1. A (relatively) small fission bomb known as the "primary" explodes.
  2. Energy released in the primary is transferred to the secondary (or fusion) stage. This energy compresses the fusion fuel and sparkplug the compressed sparkplug becomes supercritical and undergoes a fission chain reaction, further heating the compressed fusion fuel to a high enough temperature to induce fusion.
  3. Energy released by the fusion events continues heating the fuel, keeping the reaction going.
  4. The fusion fuel of the secondary stage may be surrounded by a layer of additional fuel that undergoes fission when hit by the neutrons from the reactions within. These fission events account for about half of the total energy released in typical designs.

The basic idea of the Teller–Ulam configuration is that each "stage" would undergo fission or fusion (or both) and release energy, much of which would be transferred to another stage to trigger it. How exactly the energy is "transported" from the primary to the secondary has been the subject of some disagreement in the open press, but is thought to be transmitted through the X-rays and Gamma rays that are emitted from the fissioning primary. This energy is then used to compress the secondary. The crucial detail of how the X-rays create the pressure is the main remaining disputed point in the unclassified press. There are three proposed theories:

    exerted by the X-rays. This was the first idea put forth by Howard Morland in the article in The Progressive.
  • X-rays creating a plasma in the radiation channel's filler (a polystyrene or "FOGBANK" plastic foam). This was a second idea put forward by Chuck Hansen and later by Howard Morland. /Pusher ablation. This is the concept best supported by physical analysis.

Radiation pressure Edit

The radiation pressure exerted by the large quantity of X-ray photons inside the closed casing might be enough to compress the secondary. Electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays or light carries momentum and exerts a force on any surface it strikes. The pressure of radiation at the intensities seen in everyday life, such as sunlight striking a surface, is usually imperceptible, but at the extreme intensities found in a thermonuclear bomb the pressure is enormous.

For two thermonuclear bombs for which the general size and primary characteristics are well understood, the Ivy Mike test bomb and the modern W-80 cruise missile warhead variant of the W-61 design, the radiation pressure was calculated to be 73 million bars (7.3 trillion pascals) for the Ivy Mike design and 1,400 million bars (140 trillion pascals) for the W-80. [17]

Foam plasma pressure Edit

Foam plasma pressure is the concept that Chuck Hansen introduced during the Progressive case, based on research that located declassified documents listing special foams as liner components within the radiation case of thermonuclear weapons.

The sequence of firing the weapon (with the foam) would be as follows:

  1. The high explosives surrounding the core of the primary fire, compressing the fissile material into a supercritical state and beginning the fission chain reaction.
  2. The fissioning primary emits thermal X-rays, which "reflect" along the inside of the casing, irradiating the polystyrene foam.
  3. The irradiated foam becomes a hot plasma, pushing against the tamper of the secondary, compressing it tightly, and beginning the fission chain reaction in the spark plug.
  4. Pushed from both sides (from the primary and the spark plug), the lithium deuteride fuel is highly compressed and heated to thermonuclear temperatures. Also, by being bombarded with neutrons, each lithium-6 (Li6) atom splits into one tritium atom and one alpha particle. Then begins a fusion reaction between the tritium and the deuterium, releasing even more neutrons, and a huge amount of energy.
  5. The fuel undergoing the fusion reaction emits a large flux of high energy neutrons (17.6 MeV [2.82 pJ]), which irradiates the 238
    U
    tamper (or the 238
    U
    bomb casing), causing it to undergo a fast fission reaction, providing about half of the total energy.

This would complete the fission-fusion-fission sequence. Fusion, unlike fission, is relatively "clean"—it releases energy but no harmful radioactive products or large amounts of nuclear fallout. The fission reactions though, especially the last fission reactions, release a tremendous amount of fission products and fallout. If the last fission stage is omitted, by replacing the uranium tamper with one made of lead, for example, the overall explosive force is reduced by approximately half but the amount of fallout is relatively low. The neutron bomb is a hydrogen bomb with an intentionally thin tamper, allowing most of the fast fusion neutrons as possible to escape.

  1. Warhead before firing primary (fission bomb) at top, secondary (fusion fuel) at bottom, all suspended in polystyrene foam.
  2. High-explosive fires in primary, compressing plutonium core into supercriticality and beginning a fission reaction.
  3. Fission primary emits X-rays that are scattered along the inside of the casing, irradiating the polystyrene foam.
  4. Polystyrene foam becomes plasma, compressing secondary, and plutonium sparkplug begins to fission.
  5. Compressed and heated, lithium-6 deuteride fuel produces tritium ( 3
    H
    ) and begins the fusion reaction. The neutron flux produced causes the 238
    U
    tamper to fission. A fireball starts to form.

Current technical criticisms of the idea of "foam plasma pressure" focus on unclassified analysis from similar high energy physics fields that indicate that the pressure produced by such a plasma would only be a small multiplier of the basic photon pressure within the radiation case, and also that the known foam materials intrinsically have a very low absorption efficiency of the gamma ray and X-ray radiation from the primary. Most of the energy produced would be absorbed by either the walls of the radiation case or the tamper around the secondary. Analyzing the effects of that absorbed energy led to the third mechanism: ablation.

Tamper-pusher ablation Edit

The outer casing of the secondary assembly is called the "tamper-pusher". The purpose of a tamper in an implosion bomb is to delay the expansion of the reacting fuel supply (which is very hot dense plasma) until the fuel is fully consumed and the explosion runs to completion. The same tamper material serves also as a pusher in that it is the medium by which the outside pressure (force acting on the surface area of the secondary) is transferred to the mass of fusion fuel.

The proposed tamper-pusher ablation mechanism posits that the outer layers of the thermonuclear secondary's tamper-pusher are heated so extremely by the primary's X-ray flux that they expand violently and ablate away (fly off). Because total momentum is conserved, this mass of high velocity ejecta impels the rest of the tamper-pusher to recoil inwards with tremendous force, crushing the fusion fuel and the spark plug. The tamper-pusher is built robustly enough to insulate the fusion fuel from the extreme heat outside otherwise the compression would be spoiled.

  1. Warhead before firing. The nested spheres at the top are the fission primary the cylinders below are the fusion secondary device.
  2. Fission primary's explosives have detonated and collapsed the primary's fissile pit.
  3. The primary's fission reaction has run to completion, and the primary is now at several million degrees and radiating gamma and hard X-rays, heating up the inside of the hohlraum and the shield and secondary's tamper.
  4. The primary's reaction is over and it has expanded. The surface of the pusher for the secondary is now so hot that it is also ablating or expanding away, pushing the rest of the secondary (tamper, fusion fuel, and fissile spark plug) inwards. The spark plug starts to fission. Not depicted: the radiation case is also ablating and expanding outwards (omitted for clarity of diagram).
  5. The secondary's fuel has started the fusion reaction and shortly will burn up. A fireball starts to form.

Rough calculations for the basic ablation effect are relatively simple: the energy from the primary is distributed evenly onto all of the surfaces within the outer radiation case, with the components coming to a thermal equilibrium, and the effects of that thermal energy are then analyzed. The energy is mostly deposited within about one X-ray optical thickness of the tamper/pusher outer surface, and the temperature of that layer can then be calculated. The velocity at which the surface then expands outwards is calculated and, from a basic Newtonian momentum balance, the velocity at which the rest of the tamper implodes inwards.

Applying the more detailed form of those calculations to the Ivy Mike device yields vaporized pusher gas expansion velocity of 290 kilometres per second (180 mi/s) and an implosion velocity of perhaps 400 km/s (250 mi/s) if + 3 ⁄ 4 of the total tamper/pusher mass is ablated off, the most energy efficient proportion. For the W-80 the gas expansion velocity is roughly 410 km/s (250 mi/s) and the implosion velocity 570 km/s (350 mi/s). The pressure due to the ablating material is calculated to be 5.3 billion bars (530 trillion pascals) in the Ivy Mike device and 64 billion bars (6.4 quadrillion pascals) in the W-80 device. [17]

Comparing implosion mechanisms Edit

Comparing the three mechanisms proposed, it can be seen that:

Mechanism Pressure (TPa)
Ivy Mike W80
Radiation pressure 7.3 140
Plasma pressure 35 750
Ablation pressure 530 6400

The calculated ablation pressure is one order of magnitude greater than the higher proposed plasma pressures and nearly two orders of magnitude greater than calculated radiation pressure. No mechanism to avoid the absorption of energy into the radiation case wall and the secondary tamper has been suggested, making ablation apparently unavoidable. The other mechanisms appear to be unneeded.

United States Department of Defense official declassification reports indicate that foamed plastic materials are or may be used in radiation case liners, and despite the low direct plasma pressure they may be of use in delaying the ablation until energy has distributed evenly and a sufficient fraction has reached the secondary's tamper/pusher. [18]

Richard Rhodes' book Dark Sun stated that a 1-inch-thick (25 mm) layer of plastic foam was fixed to the lead liner of the inside of the Ivy Mike steel casing using copper nails. Rhodes quotes several designers of that bomb explaining that the plastic foam layer inside the outer case is to delay ablation and thus recoil of the outer case: if the foam were not there, metal would ablate from the inside of the outer case with a large impulse, causing the casing to recoil outwards rapidly. The purpose of the casing is to contain the explosion for as long as possible, allowing as much X-ray ablation of the metallic surface of the secondary stage as possible, so it compresses the secondary efficiently, maximizing the fusion yield. Plastic foam has a low density, so causes a smaller impulse when it ablates than metal does. [18]

A number of possible variations to the weapon design have been proposed:

  • Either the tamper or the casing have been proposed to be made of 235
    U
    (highly enriched uranium) in the final fission jacket. The far more expensive 235
    U
    is also fissionable with fast neutrons like the 238
    U
    in depleted or natural uranium, but its fission-efficiency is higher. This is because 235
    U
    nuclei also undergo fission by slow neutrons ( 238
    U
    nuclei require a minimum energy of about 1 megaelectronvolt (0.16 pJ) 1 mega-electron volt), and because these slower neutrons are produced by other fissioning 235
    U
    nuclei in the jacket (in other words, 235
    U
    supports the nuclear chain reaction whereas 238
    U
    does not). Furthermore, a 235
    U
    jacket fosters neutron multiplication, whereas 238
    U
    nuclei consume fusion neutrons in the fast-fission process. Using a final fissionable/fissile jacket of 235
    U
    would thus increase the yield of a Teller–Ulam bomb above a depleted uranium or natural uranium jacket. This has been proposed specifically for the W87 warheads retrofitted to currently deployed LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBMs.
  • In some descriptions, additional internal structures exist to protect the secondary from receiving excessive neutrons from the primary.
  • The inside of the casing may or may not be specially machined to "reflect" the X-rays. X-ray "reflection" is not like light reflecting off of a mirror, but rather the reflector material is heated by the X-rays, causing the material itself to emit X-rays, which then travel to the secondary.

Two special variations exist that will be discussed in a subsequent section: the cryogenically cooled liquid deuterium device used for the Ivy Mike test, and the putative design of the W88 nuclear warhead—a small, MIRVed version of the Teller–Ulam configuration with a prolate (egg or watermelon shaped) primary and an elliptical secondary.

Most bombs do not apparently have tertiary "stages"—that is, third compression stage(s), which are additional fusion stages compressed by a previous fusion stage. (The fissioning of the last blanket of uranium, which provides about half the yield in large bombs, does not count as a "stage" in this terminology.)

The U.S. tested three-stage bombs in several explosions (see Operation Redwing) but is thought to have fielded only one such tertiary model, i.e., a bomb in which a fission stage, followed by a fusion stage, finally compresses yet another fusion stage. This U.S. design was the heavy but highly efficient (i.e., nuclear weapon yield per unit bomb weight) 25 Mt (100 PJ) B41 nuclear bomb. [19] The Soviet Union is thought to have used multiple stages (including more than one tertiary fusion stage) in their 50 Mt (210 PJ) (100 Mt (420 PJ) in intended use) Tsar Bomba (however, as with other bombs, the fissionable jacket could be replaced with lead in such a bomb, and in this one, for demonstration, it was). If any hydrogen bombs have been made from configurations other than those based on the Teller–Ulam design, the fact of it is not publicly known. (A possible exception to this is the Soviet early Sloika design).

In essence, the Teller–Ulam configuration relies on at least two instances of implosion occurring: first, the conventional (chemical) explosives in the primary would compress the fissile core, resulting in a fission explosion many times more powerful than that which chemical explosives could achieve alone (first stage). Second, the radiation from the fissioning of the primary would be used to compress and ignite the secondary fusion stage, resulting in a fusion explosion many times more powerful than the fission explosion alone. This chain of compression could conceivably be continued with an arbitrary number of tertiary fusion stages, each igniting more fusion fuel in the next stage [20] ( pp192–193 ) [21] [ better source needed ] although this is debated (see more: Arbitrarily large yield debate). Finally, efficient bombs (but not so-called neutron bombs) end with the fissioning of the final natural uranium tamper, something that could not normally be achieved without the neutron flux provided by the fusion reactions in secondary or tertiary stages. Such designs are suggested to be capable of being scaled up to an arbitrary large yield (with apparently as many fusion stages as desired), [20] ( pp192–193 ) [21] [ better source needed ] potentially to the level of a "doomsday device." However, usually such weapons were not more than a dozen megatons, which was generally considered enough to destroy even the most hardened practical targets (for example, a control facility such as the Cheyenne Mountain Complex). Even such large bombs have been replaced by smaller-yield bunker buster type nuclear bombs (see more: nuclear bunker buster).

As discussed above, for destruction of cities and non-hardened targets, breaking the mass of a single missile payload down into smaller MIRV bombs, in order to spread the energy of the explosions into a "pancake" area, is far more efficient in terms of area-destruction per unit of bomb energy. This also applies to single bombs deliverable by cruise missile or other system, such as a bomber, resulting in most operational warheads in the U.S. program having yields of less than 500 kt (2,100 TJ).

United States Edit

The idea of a thermonuclear fusion bomb ignited by a smaller fission bomb was first proposed by Enrico Fermi to his colleague Edward Teller when they were talking at Columbia University in September 1941, [12] ( p207 ) at the start of what would become the Manhattan Project. [4] Teller spent much of the Manhattan Project attempting to figure out how to make the design work, preferring it to work on the atomic bomb, and over the last year of the project was assigned exclusively to the task. [12] ( pp117,248 ) However once World War II ended, there was little impetus to devote many resources to the Super, as it was then known. [22] ( p202 )

The first atomic bomb test by the Soviet Union in August 1949 came earlier than expected by Americans, and over the next several months there was an intense debate within the U.S. government, military, and scientific communities regarding whether to proceed with development of the far more powerful Super. [23] ( pp1–2 ) The debate covered matters that were alternatively strategic, pragmatic, and moral. [23] ( p16 ) In their Report of the General Advisory Committee, Robert Oppenheimer and colleagues concluded that "[t]he extreme danger to mankind inherent in the proposal [to develop thermonuclear weapons] wholly outweighs any military advantage." Despite the objections raised, on January 31, 1950, President Harry S. Truman made the decision to go forward with the development of the new weapon. [22] ( pp212–214 )

But deciding to do it did not make it a reality, and Teller and other U.S. physicists struggled to find a workable design. [23] ( pp91–92 ) Stanislaw Ulam, a co-worker of Teller, made the first key conceptual leaps towards a workable fusion design. Ulam's two innovations that rendered the fusion bomb practical were that compression of the thermonuclear fuel before extreme heating was a practical path towards the conditions needed for fusion, and the idea of staging or placing a separate thermonuclear component outside a fission primary component, and somehow using the primary to compress the secondary. Teller then realized that the gamma and X-ray radiation produced in the primary could transfer enough energy into the secondary to create a successful implosion and fusion burn, if the whole assembly was wrapped in a hohlraum or radiation case. [4] Teller and his various proponents and detractors later disputed the degree to which Ulam had contributed to the theories underlying this mechanism. Indeed, shortly before his death, and in a last-ditch effort to discredit Ulam's contributions, Teller claimed that one of his own "graduate students" had proposed the mechanism. [ citation needed ]

The "George" shot of Operation Greenhouse of 9 May 1951 tested the basic concept for the first time on a very small scale. As the first successful (uncontrolled) release of nuclear fusion energy, which made up a small fraction of the 225 kt (940 TJ) total yield, [24] it raised expectations to a near certainty that the concept would work.

On November 1, 1952, the Teller–Ulam configuration was tested at full scale in the "Ivy Mike" shot at an island in the Enewetak Atoll, with a yield of 10.4 Mt (44 PJ) (over 450 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II). The device, dubbed the Sausage, used an extra-large fission bomb as a "trigger" and liquid deuterium—kept in its liquid state by 20 short tons (18 t) of cryogenic equipment—as its fusion fuel, [ citation needed ] and weighed around 80 short tons (73 t) altogether.

The liquid deuterium fuel of Ivy Mike was impractical for a deployable weapon, and the next advance was to use a solid lithium deuteride fusion fuel instead. In 1954 this was tested in the "Castle Bravo" shot (the device was code-named Shrimp), which had a yield of 15 Mt (63 PJ) (2.5 times expected) and is the largest U.S. bomb ever tested.

Efforts in the United States soon shifted towards developing miniaturized Teller–Ulam weapons that could fit into intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. By 1960, with the W47 warhead [25] deployed on Polaris ballistic missile submarines, megaton-class warheads were as small as 18 inches (0.46 m) in diameter and 720 pounds (330 kg) in weight. Further innovation in miniaturizing warheads was accomplished by the mid-1970s, when versions of the Teller–Ulam design were created that could fit ten or more warheads on the end of a small MIRVed missile (see the section on the W88 below). [8]

Soviet Union Edit

The first Soviet fusion design, developed by Andrei Sakharov and Vitaly Ginzburg in 1949 (before the Soviets had a working fission bomb), was dubbed the Sloika, after a Russian layer cake, and was not of the Teller–Ulam configuration. It used alternating layers of fissile material and lithium deuteride fusion fuel spiked with tritium (this was later dubbed Sakharov's "First Idea"). Though nuclear fusion might have been technically achievable, it did not have the scaling property of a "staged" weapon. Thus, such a design could not produce thermonuclear weapons whose explosive yields could be made arbitrarily large (unlike U.S. designs at that time). The fusion layer wrapped around the fission core could only moderately multiply the fission energy (modern Teller–Ulam designs can multiply it 30-fold). Additionally, the whole fusion stage had to be imploded by conventional explosives, along with the fission core, substantially multiplying the amount of chemical explosives needed.

The first Sloika design test, RDS-6s, was detonated in 1953 with a yield equivalent to 400 kt (1,700 TJ) ( 15%- 20% from fusion). Attempts to use a Sloika design to achieve megaton-range results proved unfeasible. After the United States tested the "Ivy Mike" thermonuclear device in November 1952, proving that a multimegaton bomb could be created, the Soviets searched for an alternative design. The "Second Idea", as Sakharov referred to it in his memoirs, was a previous proposal by Ginzburg in November 1948 to use lithium deuteride in the bomb, which would, in the course of being bombarded by neutrons, produce tritium and free deuterium. [26] ( p299 ) In late 1953 physicist Viktor Davidenko achieved the first breakthrough, that of keeping the primary and secondary parts of the bombs in separate pieces ("staging"). The next breakthrough was discovered and developed by Sakharov and Yakov Zel'dovich, that of using the X-rays from the fission bomb to compress the secondary before fusion ("radiation implosion"), in early 1954. Sakharov's "Third Idea", as the Teller–Ulam design was known in the USSR, was tested in the shot "RDS-37" in November 1955 with a yield of 1.6 Mt (6.7 PJ).

The Soviets demonstrated the power of the "staging" concept in October 1961, when they detonated the massive and unwieldy Tsar Bomba, a 50 Mt (210 PJ) hydrogen bomb that derived almost 97% of its energy from fusion. It was the largest nuclear weapon developed and tested by any country.

United Kingdom Edit

In 1954 work began at Aldermaston to develop the British fusion bomb, with Sir William Penney in charge of the project. British knowledge on how to make a thermonuclear fusion bomb was rudimentary, and at the time the United States was not exchanging any nuclear knowledge because of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. However, the British were allowed to observe the U.S. Castle tests and used sampling aircraft in the mushroom clouds, providing them with clear, direct evidence of the compression produced in the secondary stages by radiation implosion. [27]

Because of these difficulties, in 1955 British prime minister Anthony Eden agreed to a secret plan, whereby if the Aldermaston scientists failed or were greatly delayed in developing the fusion bomb, it would be replaced by an extremely large fission bomb. [27]

In 1957 the Operation Grapple tests were carried out. The first test, Green Granite was a prototype fusion bomb, but failed to produce equivalent yields compared to the U.S. and Soviets, achieving only approximately 300 kt (1,300 TJ). The second test Orange Herald was the modified fission bomb and produced 720 kt (3,000 TJ)—making it the largest fission explosion ever. At the time almost everyone (including the pilots of the plane that dropped it) thought that this was a fusion bomb. This bomb was put into service in 1958. A second prototype fusion bomb Purple Granite was used in the third test, but only produced approximately 150 kt (630 TJ). [27]

A second set of tests was scheduled, with testing recommencing in September 1957. The first test was based on a "… new simpler design. A two stage thermonuclear bomb that had a much more powerful trigger". This test Grapple X Round C was exploded on November 8 and yielded approximately 1.8 Mt (7.5 PJ). On April 28, 1958 a bomb was dropped that yielded 3 Mt (13 PJ)—Britain's most powerful test. Two final air burst tests on September 2 and September 11, 1958, dropped smaller bombs that yielded around 1 Mt (4.2 PJ) each. [27]

American observers had been invited to these kinds of tests. After Britain's successful detonation of a megaton-range device (and thus demonstrating a practical understanding of the Teller–Ulam design "secret"), the United States agreed to exchange some of its nuclear designs with the United Kingdom, leading to the 1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement. Instead of continuing with its own design, the British were given access to the design of the smaller American Mk 28 warhead and were able to manufacture copies. [27]

The United Kingdom had worked closely with the Americans on the Manhattan Project. British access to nuclear weapons information was cut-off by the United States at one point due to concerns about Soviet espionage. Full cooperation was not reestablished until an agreement governing the handling of secret information and other issues was signed. [27] [ unreliable source? ]

China Edit

Mao Zedong decided to begin a Chinese nuclear-weapons program during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1954–1955. The People's Republic of China detonated its first hydrogen (thermonuclear) bomb on June 17, 1967, 32 months after detonating its first fission weapon, with a yield of 3.31 Mt. It took place in the Lop Nor Test Site, in northwest China. [28] China had received extensive technical help from the Soviet Union to jump-start their nuclear program, but by 1960, the rift between the Soviet Union and China had become so great that the Soviet Union ceased all assistance to China. [29]

A story in The New York Times by William Broad [30] reported that in 1995, a supposed Chinese double agent delivered information indicating that China knew secret details of the U.S. W88 warhead, supposedly through espionage. [31] (This line of investigation eventually resulted in the abortive trial of Wen Ho Lee.)

France Edit

The French nuclear testing site was moved to the unpopulated French atolls in the Pacific Ocean. The first test conducted at these new sites was the "Canopus" test in the Fangataufa atoll in French Polynesia on 24 August 1968, the country's first multistage thermonuclear weapon test. The bomb was detonated from a balloon at a height of 520 metres (1,710 ft). The result of this test was significant atmospheric contamination. [32] Very little is known about France's development of the Teller–Ulam design, beyond the fact that France detonated a 2.6 Mt (11 PJ) device in the "Canopus" test. France reportedly had great difficulty with its initial development of the Teller-Ulam design, but it later overcame these, and is believed to have nuclear weapons equal in sophistication to the other major nuclear powers. [27]

France and China did not sign or ratify the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which banned nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere, underwater, or in outer space. Between 1966 and 1996 France carried out more than 190 nuclear tests. [32] France's final nuclear test took place on January 27, 1996, and then the country dismantled its Polynesian test sites. France signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty that same year, and then ratified the Treaty within two years.

France confirmed that its nuclear arsenal contains about 300 warheads, carried by submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and fighter-bombers in 2015. France has four Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines. One ballistic missile submarine is deployed in the deep ocean, but a total of three must be in operational use at all times. The three older submarines are armed with 16 M45 missiles. The newest submarine, "Le Terrible", was commissioned in 2010, and it has M51 missiles capable of carrying TN 75 thermonuclear warheads. The air fleet is four squadrons at four different bases. In total, there are 23 Mirage 2000N aircraft and 20 Rafales capable of carrying nuclear warheads. [33] The M51.1 missiles are intended to be replaced with the new M51.2 warhead beginning in 2016, which has a 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) greater range than the M51.1. [33]

France also has about 60 air-launched missiles tipped with TN 80/TN 81 warheads with a yield of about 300 kt (1,300 TJ) each. France's nuclear program has been carefully designed to ensure that these weapons remain usable decades into the future. [27] [ unreliable source? ] Currently, France is no longer deliberately producing critical mass materials such as plutonium and enriched uranium, but it still relies on nuclear energy for electricity, with 239
Pu
as a byproduct. [34]

India Edit

On May 11, 1998, India announced that it had detonated a thermonuclear bomb in its Operation Shakti tests ("Shakti-I", specifically). [35] [36] Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, a Pakistani nuclear physicist, asserted that if Shakti-I had been a thermonuclear test, the device had failed to fire. [37] However, Dr. Harold M. Agnew, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said that India's assertion of having detonated a staged thermonuclear bomb was believable. [38] India says that their thermonuclear device was tested at a controlled yield of 45 kt (190 TJ) because of the close proximity of the Khetolai village at about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi), to ensure that the houses in that village do not suffer significant damage. [39] Another cited reason was that radioactivity released from yields significantly more than 45 Kilotons might not have been contained fully. [39] After the Pokhran-II tests, Dr. Rajagopal Chidambaram, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India said that India has the capability to build thermonuclear bombs of any yield at will. [38]

The yield of India's hydrogen bomb test remains highly debatable among the Indian science community and the international scholars. [40] The question of politicisation and disputes between Indian scientists further complicated the matter. [41]

In an interview in August 2009, the director for the 1998 test site preparations, Dr. K. Santhanam claimed that the yield of the thermonuclear explosion was lower than expected and that India should therefore not rush into signing the CTBT. Other Indian scientists involved in the test have disputed Dr. K. Santhanam's claim, [42] arguing that Santhanam's claims are unscientific. [36] British seismologist Roger Clarke argued that the magnitudes suggested a combined yield of up to 60 kilotonnes of TNT (250 TJ), consistent with the Indian announced total yield of 56 kilotonnes of TNT (230 TJ). [43] U.S. seismologist Jack Evernden has argued that for correct estimation of yields, one should ‘account properly for geological and seismological differences between test sites’. [39]

India officially maintains that it can build thermonuclear weapons of various yields up to around 200 kt (840 TJ) on the basis of the Shakti-1 thermonuclear test. [39] [44]

Israel Edit

Israel is alleged to possess thermonuclear weapons of the Teller–Ulam design, [45] but it is not known to have tested any nuclear devices, although it is widely speculated that the Vela Incident of 1979 may have been a joint Israeli–South African nuclear test. [46] [47] ( p271 ) [48] ( pp297–300 )

It is well established that Edward Teller advised and guided the Israeli establishment on general nuclear matters for some twenty years. [49] ( pp289–293 ) Between 1964 and 1967, Teller made six visits to Israel where he lectured at the Tel Aviv University on general topics in theoretical physics. [50] It took him a year to convince the CIA about Israel's capability and finally in 1976, Carl Duckett of the CIA testified to the U.S. Congress, after receiving credible information from an "American scientist" (Teller), on Israel's nuclear capability. [48] ( pp297–300 ) During the 1990s, Teller eventually confirmed speculations in the media that it was during his visits in the 1960s that he concluded that Israel was in possession of nuclear weapons. [48] ( pp297–300 ) After he conveyed the matter to the higher level of the U.S. government, Teller reportedly said: "They [Israel] have it, and they were clever enough to trust their research and not to test, they know that to test would get them into trouble." [48] ( pp297–300 )

Pakistan Edit

According to the scientific data received and published by PAEC, the Corps of Engineers, and Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), in May 1998, Pakistan carried out six underground nuclear tests in Chagai Hills and Kharan Desert in Balochistan Province (see the code-names of the tests, Chagai-I and Chagai-II). [37] None of these boosted fission devices was the thermonuclear weapon design, according to KRL and PAEC. [37]

North Korea Edit

North Korea claimed to have tested its miniaturised thermonuclear bomb on 6 January 2016. North Korea's first three nuclear tests (2006, 2009 and 2013) were relatively low yield and do not appear to have been of a thermonuclear weapon design. In 2013, the South Korean Defense Ministry speculated that North Korea may be trying to develop a "hydrogen bomb" and such a device may be North Korea's next weapons test. [51] [52] In January 2016, North Korea claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, [53] although only a magnitude 5.1 seismic event was detected at the time of the test, [54] a similar magnitude to the 2013 test of a 6–9 kt (25–38 TJ) atomic bomb. These seismic recordings cast doubt upon North Korea's claim that a hydrogen bomb was tested and suggest it was a non-fusion nuclear test. [55]

On 3 September 2017, the country's state media reported that a hydrogen bomb test was conducted which resulted in "perfect success". According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the blast resulted in an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3, 10 times more powerful than previous nuclear tests conducted by North Korea. [56] U.S. Intelligence released an early assessment that the yield estimate was 140 kt (590 TJ), [57] with an uncertainty range of 70 to 280 kt (290 to 1,170 TJ). [58]

On 12 September, NORSAR revised its estimate of the earthquake magnitude upward to 6.1, matching that of the CTBTO, but less powerful than the USGS estimate of 6.3. Its yield estimate was revised to 250 kt (1,000 TJ), while noting the estimate had some uncertainty and an undisclosed margin of error. [59] [60]

On 13 September, an analysis of before and after synthetic-aperture radar satellite imagery of the test site was published suggesting the test occurred under 900 metres (3,000 ft) of rock and the yield "could have been in excess of 300 kilotons". [61]

The Teller–Ulam design was for many years considered one of the top nuclear secrets, and even today it is not discussed in any detail by official publications with origins "behind the fence" of classification. United States Department of Energy (DOE) policy has been, and continues to be, that they do not acknowledge when "leaks" occur, because doing so would acknowledge the accuracy of the supposed leaked information. Aside from images of the warhead casing, most information in the public domain about this design is relegated to a few terse statements by the DOE and the work of a few individual investigators.

DOE statements Edit

In 1972 the United States government declassified a document stating "[I]n thermonuclear (TN) weapons, a fission 'primary' is used to trigger a TN reaction in thermonuclear fuel referred to as a 'secondary'", and in 1979 added, "[I]n thermonuclear weapons, radiation from a fission explosive can be contained and used to transfer energy to compress and ignite a physically separate component containing thermonuclear fuel." To this latter sentence the US government specified that "Any elaboration of this statement will be classified." [62] The only information that may pertain to the spark plug was declassified in 1991: "Fact that fissile or fissionable materials are present in some secondaries, material unidentified, location unspecified, use unspecified, and weapons undesignated." In 1998 the DOE declassified the statement that "The fact that materials may be present in channels and the term 'channel filler,' with no elaboration", which may refer to the polystyrene foam (or an analogous substance). [63]

Whether these statements vindicate some or all of the models presented above is up for interpretation, and official U.S. government releases about the technical details of nuclear weapons have been purposely equivocating in the past (see, e.g., Smyth Report). Other information, such as the types of fuel used in some of the early weapons, has been declassified, though precise technical information has not been.

The Progressive case Edit

Most of the current ideas on the workings of the Teller–Ulam design came into public awareness after the Department of Energy (DOE) attempted to censor a magazine article by U.S. antiweapons activist Howard Morland in 1979 on the "secret of the hydrogen bomb". In 1978, Morland had decided that discovering and exposing this "last remaining secret" would focus attention onto the arms race and allow citizens to feel empowered to question official statements on the importance of nuclear weapons and nuclear secrecy. [ citation needed ] Most of Morland's ideas about how the weapon worked were compiled from highly accessible sources—the drawings that most inspired his approach came from none other than the Encyclopedia Americana. [ citation needed ] Morland also interviewed (often informally) many former Los Alamos scientists (including Teller and Ulam, though neither gave him any useful information), and used a variety of interpersonal strategies to encourage informative responses from them (i.e., asking questions such as "Do they still use spark plugs?" even if he was not aware what the latter term specifically referred to). [64]

Morland eventually concluded that the "secret" was that the primary and secondary were kept separate and that radiation pressure from the primary compressed the secondary before igniting it. When an early draft of the article, to be published in The Progressive magazine, was sent to the DOE after falling into the hands of a professor who was opposed to Morland's goal, the DOE requested that the article not be published, and pressed for a temporary injunction. The DOE argued that Morland's information was (1) likely derived from classified sources, (2) if not derived from classified sources, itself counted as "secret" information under the "born secret" clause of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, and (3) was dangerous and would encourage nuclear proliferation.

Morland and his lawyers disagreed on all points, but the injunction was granted, as the judge in the case felt that it was safer to grant the injunction and allow Morland, et al., to appeal, which they did in United States v. The Progressive (1979).

Through a variety of more complicated circumstances, the DOE case began to wane as it became clear that some of the data they were attempting to claim as "secret" had been published in a students' encyclopedia a few years earlier. After another H-bomb speculator, Chuck Hansen, had his own ideas about the "secret" (quite different from Morland's) published in a Wisconsin newspaper, the DOE claimed that The Progressive case was moot, dropped its suit, and allowed the magazine to publish its article, which it did in November 1979. Morland had by then, however, changed his opinion of how the bomb worked, suggesting that a foam medium (the polystyrene) rather than radiation pressure was used to compress the secondary, and that in the secondary there was a spark plug of fissile material as well. He published these changes, based in part on the proceedings of the appeals trial, as a short erratum in The Progressive a month later. [65] In 1981, Morland published a book about his experience, describing in detail the train of thought that led him to his conclusions about the "secret". [64] [66]

Morland's work is interpreted as being at least partially correct because the DOE had sought to censor it, one of the few times they violated their usual approach of not acknowledging "secret" material that had been released however, to what degree it lacks information, or has incorrect information, is not known with any confidence. The difficulty that a number of nations had in developing the Teller–Ulam design (even when they apparently understood the design, such as with the United Kingdom), makes it somewhat unlikely that this simple information alone is what provides the ability to manufacture thermonuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the ideas put forward by Morland in 1979 have been the basis for all the current speculation on the Teller–Ulam design.

In January 1986, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev publicly proposed a three-stage program for abolishing the world's nuclear weapons by the end of the 20th century. [67] Two years before his death in 1989, Andrei Sakharov's comments at a scientists’ forum helped begin the process for the elimination of thousands of nuclear ballistic missiles from the US and Soviet arsenals. Sakharov (1921–89) was recruited into the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons program in 1948, a year after he completed his doctorate. In 1949 the US detected the first Soviet test of a fission bomb, and the two countries embarked on a desperate race to design a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb that was a thousand times more powerful. Like his US counterparts, Sakharov justified his H-bomb work by pointing to the danger of the other country's achieving a monopoly. But also like some of the US scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project, he felt a responsibility to inform his nation's leadership and then the world about the dangers from nuclear weapons. [68] Sakharov's first attempt to influence policy was brought about by his concern about possible genetic damage from long-lived radioactive carbon-14 created in the atmosphere from nitrogen-14 by the enormous fluxes of neutrons released in H-bomb tests. [69] In 1968, a friend suggested that Sakharov write an essay about the role of the intelligentsia in world affairs. Self-publishing was the method at the time for spreading unapproved manuscripts in the Soviet Union. Many readers would create multiple copies by typing with multiple sheets of paper interleaved with carbon paper. One copy of Sakharov's essay, "Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom", was smuggled out of the Soviet Union and published by the New York Times. More than 18 million reprints were produced during 1968–69. After the essay was published, Sakharov was barred from returning to work in the nuclear weapons program and took a research position in Moscow. [68] In 1980, after an interview with the New York Times in which he denounced the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the government put him beyond the reach of Western media by exiling him and his wife to Gorky. In March 1985, Gorbachev became general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. More than a year and a half later, he persuaded the Politburo, the party's executive committee, to allow Sakharov and Bonner to return to Moscow. Sakharov was elected as an opposition member to the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies in 1989. Later that year he had a cardiac arrhythmia and died in his apartment. He left behind a draft of a new Soviet constitution that emphasized democracy and human rights. [70]

On 5 February 1958, during a training mission flown by a B-47, a Mark 15 nuclear bomb, also known as the Tybee Bomb, was lost off the coast of Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia. The bomb was thought by the Department of Energy to lie buried under several feet of silt at the bottom of Wassaw Sound. [71]

On 17 January 1966, a fatal collision occurred between a B-52G and a KC-135 Stratotanker over Palomares, Spain. The conventional explosives in two of the Mk28-type hydrogen bombs detonated upon impact with the ground, dispersing plutonium over nearby farms. A third bomb landed intact near Palomares while the fourth fell 12 miles (19 km) off the coast into the Mediterranean sea. [72]

On 21 January 1968, a B-52G, with four B28FI thermonuclear bombs aboard as part of Operation Chrome Dome, crashed on the ice of the North Star Bay while attempting an emergency landing at Thule Air Base in Greenland. [73] The resulting fire caused extensive radioactive contamination. [74] Personnel involved in the cleanup failed to recover all the debris from three of the bombs, and one bomb was not recovered. [75]

Ivy Mike Edit

In his 1995 book Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, author Richard Rhodes describes in detail the internal components of the "Ivy Mike" Sausage device, based on information obtained from extensive interviews with the scientists and engineers who assembled it. According to Rhodes, the actual mechanism for the compression of the secondary was a combination of the radiation pressure, foam plasma pressure, and tamper-pusher ablation theories described above the radiation from the primary heated the polyethylene foam lining the casing to a plasma, which then re-radiated radiation into the secondary's pusher, causing its surface to ablate and driving it inwards, compressing the secondary, igniting the sparkplug, and causing the fusion reaction. The general applicability of this principle is unclear. [12]


Americans seize 1,100 pounds of uranium in effort to prevent Soviets from developing A-bomb - HISTORY

1864 – There was a bread revolt in Savannah, Georgia.

1865 – Mary Surratt was arrested as a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination.

1865 – The Confederate ironclad Jackson (previously Muscogee) was destroyed at Columbus, Georgia, after Union Army forces overran Southern defenses at the city in an attack that began the preceeding night. Major General George H. Thomas reported: “The rebel ram Jackson, nearly ready for sea, and carrying six 7-inch [rifled] guns, fell into our hands and was destroyed, as well as the navy yard, founderies, the arsenal and armory, sword and pistol factory . . . all of which were burned.” Twelve miles below the city the Union troops found the burned hulk of C.S.S. Chattahoochee which the Confederates themselves h4 destroyed. The navy yard at Columbus had been a key facility in the building of the machinery for Southern ironclads.

1897 – The Aurora, Texas, UFO incident reportedly occurred on April 17, 1897 when, according to locals, a UFO crashed on a farm near Aurora, Texas. The incident (similar to the more famous Roswell UFO incident 50 years later) is claimed to have resulted in a fatality from the crash and the alleged alien body is to have been buried in an unmarked grave at the local cemetery.

1907 – The Ellis Island immigration center in New York Harbor processed a record 11,747 immigrants, part of a record 1,004,756 for the year. Between 1820 and 1970, the year 1907 saw the largest number of immigrants to the U.S., 1,285,349. Between 1905 and 1915, the annual immigration numbers topped 1 million six times.

1917 – British and French forces around Ypres halt a second German offensive that had the objective of reaching the ports of northern France. The General Reich Luddendorf and the German General Staff begins laying plans for a third offensive.

1943 – The US 8th Air Force carries out a daylight bombing raid on aircraft factories in Bremen.
Of 115 B-17 bombers employed, 16 are lost on the mission.

1943 – Admiral Yamamoto flew from Truk to Rabaul.

1943 – Lieutenant Ross P. Bullard and Boatswain’s Mate First Class C. S. “Mike” Hall boarded the U-175 at sea after their cutter, the CGC Spencer, blasted the U-boat to the surface with depth charges when the U-boat attempted to attack the convoy the Spencer was escorting. They were part of a boarding party sent to seize the U-boat before the Nazi crew could scuttle it. The damage to the U-boat was severe, however, and it sank after both had boarded it and climbed the conning tower.

Both men ended up in the water as it slipped beneath the waves. Nevertheless, they carry the distinction of being the first American servicemen to board an enemy warship underway at sea since the War of 1812. The Navy credited the Spencer with the kill. She rescued 19 of the U-boat’s crew and her sister cutter, Duane, rescued 22. One Spencer crewman was killed by friendly fire during the battle.

1944 – US B-17 and B-24 bombers attack Sofia, Bulgaria.

1944 – US B-17 and B-24 bombers attack Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

1945 – U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Boris T. Pash commandeers over half a ton of uranium at Strassfut, Germany, in an effort to prevent the Russians from developing an A-bomb. Pash was head of the Alsos Group, organized to search for German scientists in the postwar environment in order to prevent the Russians, previously Allies but now a potential threat, from capturing any scientists and putting them to work at their own atomic research plants. Uranium piles were also rich “catches,” as they were necessary to the development of atomic weapons.

1945 – There are American landings in the Moro Gulf at Cotabatu. The assault units are from US 24th Infantry Division from US 10th Corps (General Sibert). Admiral Noble commands 3 cruisers and a destroyer force in support. The American forces which landed at Zamboanga early in March have already cleared a large part of the southwest of the island, but the majority of the Japanese 35th Army (General Suzuki) remains intact. There is no initial opposition to the new landings.

1951 – Operation DAUNTLESS continued to advance against weakened communist resistance in the 24th and 25th Infantry Division zones. A company of the 24th Infantry Division’s 6th Tank Battalion moved up Route 3 to within seven miles of Kumhwa without contact.

1960 – The International Control Commission, which oversees the implementation of the Geneva Agreements of 1954, agrees to A South Vietnamese government request for the United States to double it’s Military Advisory Assistance Group (MAAG) presence to 685. North Vietnam protests the approval and accuses the United States of turning South Vietnam into ‘a US military base for the preparation of a new war.’

1961 – The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA financed and trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure. Fidel Castro had been a concern to U.S. policymakers since he seized power in Cuba with a revolution in January 1959. Castro’s attacks on U.S. companies and interests in Cuba, his inflammatory anti-American rhetoric, and Cuba’s movement toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union led U.S. officials to conclude that the Cuban leader was a threat to U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere.

In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the CIA to train and arm a force of Cuban exiles for an armed attack on Cuba. John F. Kennedy inherited this program when he became president in 1961. Though many of his military advisors indicated that an amphibious assault on Cuba by a group of lightly armed exiles had little chance for success, Kennedy gave the go-ahead for the attack.

On April 17, 1961, around 1,200 exiles, armed with American weapons and using American landing craft, waded ashore at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. The hope was that the exile force would serve as a rallying point for the Cuban citizenry, who would rise up and overthrow Castro’s government. The plan immediately fell apart–the landing force met with unexpectedly rapid counterattacks from Castro’s military, the tiny Cuban air force sank most of the exiles’ supply ships, the United States refrained from providing necessary air support, and the expected uprising never happened. Over 100 of the attackers were killed, and more than 1,100 were captured.

The failure at the Bay of Pigs cost the United States dearly. Castro used the attack by the “Yankee imperialists” to solidify his power in Cuba and he requested additional Soviet military aid. Eventually that aid included missiles, and the construction of missile bases in Cuba sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when the United States and the Soviet Union nearly came to blows over the issue.

Further, throughout much of Latin America, the United States was pilloried for its use of armed force in trying to unseat Castro, a man who was considered a hero to many for his stance against U.S. interference and imperialism. Kennedy tried to redeem himself by publicly accepting blame for the attack and its subsequent failure, but the botched mission left the young president looking vulnerable and indecisive.

1964 – Secretary of State Dean Rusk, CIA Officer William Bundy, and Army Chief of Staff General Earle Wheeler, visit Saigon where they review the latest US plans for covert actions against North Vietnam with Ambassador Lodge.

1969 – Paris peace talks show no progress as Communist negotiators reject allied proposals for mutual withdrawal, demanding that US forces leave at once and unconditionally.

1970 – With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth. On April 11, the third manned lunar landing mission was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The mission was headed for a landing on the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon. However, two days into the mission, disaster struck 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blew up in the spacecraft.

Mission commander Lovell reported to mission control on Earth: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” and it was discovered that the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water had been disrupted. The landing mission was aborted, and the astronauts and controllers on Earth scrambled to come up with emergency procedures. The crippled spacecraft continued to the moon, circled it, and began a long, cold journey back to Earth. The astronauts and mission control were faced with enormous logistical problems in stabilizing the spacecraft and its air supply, as well as providing enough energy to the damaged fuel cells to allow successful reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Navigation was another problem, and Apollo 13’s course was repeatedly corrected with dramatic and untested maneuvers.

On April 17, tragedy turned to triumph as the Apollo 13 astronauts touched down safely in the Pacific Ocean.

1972 – Hundreds of students are arrested and 800 National Guardsmen are ordered onto the campus of the University of Maryland in response to demonstrations against the school’s ROTC program and members.

1973 – The Senate Armed Services Committee begins a probe into allegations that the US Air Force made thousands of secret B-52 raids into Cambodia in 1969 and 1970 in violation of Cambodian neutrality. The Pentagon acknowledges that the raids were authorized by President Nixon and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird. Prince Sihanouk denies that he requested or authorized the bombing. Nixon and laird deny that they knew of or authorized falsification of the records of these missions.

1975 – The Khmer Rouge troops capture Phnom Penh and government forces surrender. The war between government troops and the communist insurgents had been raging since March 1970, when Lt. Gen. Lon Nol had ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk in a bloodless coup and proclaimed the establishment of the Khmer Republic. Between 1970 and 1975, Lon Nol and his army, the Forces Armees Nationale Khmer (FANK), with U.S. support and military aid, battled the communist Khmer Rouge for control of Cambodia.

During the five years of bitter fighting, approximately 10 percent of Cambodia’s 7 million people died. When the U.S. forces departed South Vietnam in 1973, both the Cambodians and South Vietnamese found themselves fighting the communists alone. Without U.S. support, Lon Nol’s forces fought on, but eventually succumbed to the Khmer Rouge. With the surrender, the victorious Khmer Rouge evacuated Phnom Penh and set about reordering Cambodian society. This resulted in a killing spree and the notorious “killing fields.” Eventually, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were murdered or died from exhaustion, hunger, and disease.

1983 – Mark W. Clark (87), US general (WW II), died.

1986 – IBM produced its 1st megabit-chip.

1987 – LT Tom McClay received a direct commission as a flight officer for duty with the Coast Guard’s E2C Hawkeyes. LT McClay was the first Coast Guard flight officer.

1986 – The bodies of American librarian Peter Kilburn and two Britons were found near Beirut the three hostages had been slain in apparent retaliation for the U.S. raid on Libya.

1995 – President Clinton signed an executive order stripping the classified label from most national security documents that were at least 25 years old.

1995 – An Air Force jet exploded and crashed in a wooded area in eastern Alabama, killing eight people, including an assistant Air Force secretary and a two-star general.

1998 – The space shuttle Columbia blasted off with 7 astronauts and a menagerie of creatures to test the effects of space travel on the nervous system.

1999 – The US launched the 505-foot Navy destroyer Winston S. Churchill at the Bath Iron Works in Maine.

1999 – NATO forces launched the 25th night of bombing against Yugoslavia in the strongest attacks thus far. General Wesley Clark, NATO’s commander, warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to change his policies in Kosovo or see his military machine destroyed.

1999 – In Iraq US fighter planes bombed anti-aircraft sites in the northern no-fly zone.

2000 – The Clinton administration approved the sale of upgraded missiles and a long-range radar system for Taiwan but not 4 hi-tech destroyers.

2000 – In Spokane, Washington, Robert L. Yates Jr., a National Guardsman and the father of 5, was arrested for the murder of a 16-year-old prostitute and suspected in the murder of as many as 17 other slayings in Washington state.

2000 – In the Philippines Abu Sayyaf rebels on Basilan Island threatened to kidnap and kill Americans if the US does not release the men convicted for bombing the World Trade Center in New York.

2001 – US envoys arrived in China to resolved issues of the US spy plane collision with a Chinese jet.

2001 – In Mississippi voters decided to keep the Confederate emblem on the state flag by a margin of 65 to 35%.

2002 – A US fighter jet accidentally dropped a laser-guided bomb on Canadian forces near Kandahar, Afghanistan, and 4 soldiers were killed. On Sep 12 two U.S. F-16 fighter pilots were charged with manslaughter and assault in the “friendly fire” bombing of Canadian troops that killed four soldiers and injured eight. In 2004 USAF pilot Maj. Harry Schmidt was found guilty of dereliction of duty. He received a reprimand and was docked a month’s pay.

2003 – In the 30th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom American forces released more than 900 Iraqi prisoners, beginning the process of sorting through the thousands detained in the month-old war. Coalition forces still held 6,850 prisoners. The Bush administration planned to send in a 1,000-man team to search for weapons of mass destruction.

2003 – US Special Forces captured Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti (5 of clubs), a half brother of Saddam Hussein. He was 3rd the list of 55 former Iraqi officials wanted by the US.

2003 – The US Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha (MET Alpha) found an Iraqi scientist who led the them to sites that contained precursors for a banned toxic agent.

2003 – A riot broke out at a Baghdad bank after thieves blew a hole in the vault and dropped children in to bring out fistfuls of cash. As ordinary Iraqis protested vehemently, US troops calmed the situation by arresting the thieves and removed $4 million in US dollars for safekeeping.

1689 – Bostonians rise up in rebellion against Sir Edmund Andros. The 1689 Boston revolt was a popular uprising against the rule of Sir Edmund Andros, the governor of the Dominion of New England. A well-organized “mob” of provincial militia and citizens formed in the city and arrested dominion officials. Members of the Church of England, believed by Puritans to sympathize with the administration of the dominion, were also taken into custody by the rebels. Neither faction sustained casualties during the revolt. Leaders of the former Massachusetts Bay Colony then reclaimed control of the government.

In other colonies, members of governments displaced by the dominion were returned to power. Andros, commissioned governor of New England in 1686, had earned the enmity of the local populace by enforcing the restrictive Navigation Acts, denying the validity of existing land titles, restricting town meetings, and appointing unpopular regular officers to lead colonial militia, among other actions. Furthermore, he had infuriated Puritans in Boston by promoting the Church of England, which was disliked by many Nonconformist New England colonists.

1775 – In Massachusetts, British troops march out of Boston on a mission to confiscate the Patriot arsenal at Concord and to capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. As the British departed, Boston Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback from the city to warn Adams and Hancock and rouse the Patriot minutemen.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from England to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents.

On April 18th, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington. The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and upon learning of the British plan Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. Taking separate routes in case one of them were captured, Dawes left Boston by the Boston Neck peninsula, and Revere crossed the Charles River to Charlestown by boat. As the two couriers made their way, Patriots in Charlestown waited for a signal from Boston informing them of the British troop movement. As previously agreed, one lantern would be hung in the steeple of Boston’s Old North Church, the highest point in the city, if the British were marching out of the city by Boston Neck, and two if they were crossing the Charles River to Cambridge. Two lanterns were hung, and the armed Patriots set out for Lexington and Concord accordingly.

Along the way, Revere and Dawes roused hundreds of minutemen, who armed themselves and set out to oppose the British. Revere arrived in Lexington shortly before Dawes, but together they warned Adams and Hancock and then set out for Concord. Along the way, they were joined by Samuel Prescott, a young Patriot who had been riding home after visiting a friend. Early in the morning of April 19th, a British patrol captured Revere, and Dawes lost his horse, forcing him to walk back to Lexington on foot. However, Prescott escaped and rode on to Concord to warn the Patriots there. After being roughly questioned for an hour or two, Revere was released when the patrol heard minutemen alarm guns being fired on their approach to Lexington.

Around 5 a.m., 700 British troops under Major John Pitcairn arrived at the town to find a 77-man-strong colonial militia under Captain John Parker waiting for them on Lexington’s common green. Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

1778 – John Paul Jones attacked the British revenue cutter Husar near the Isle of Man, but it escaped. Soon thereafter he raided Whitehaven and burned one coal ship.

1805 – The Revenue cutter Louisiana recaptured the merchant brig Felicity from privateers off the mouth of the Mississippi River.

1806 – Putatively hoping to locate sailors who had deserted the Royal Navy, the British began to impress American merchant ships. Though the deserters often took refuge on American vessels, the British often simply seized any sailors–deserters or no–who failed to prove their American citizenship.

So, on this day in 1806, Congress fired back at England by passing the Nicholson Act (nee the Non-Importation Act), legislation which effectively shut the door on the importation of numerous British goods to America. The legislation blocked the trade of brass, tin, textiles and other items that could either be produced in the States or imported from other countries.

The Nicholson Act took effect in December of 1806 but, a mere month later, President Thomas Jefferson lifted the trade blockade in hopes of speeding treaty negotiations with Britain. U.S. Minister James Monroe brokered a deal with Britain, albeit one that did little to spare America’s commercial ships. In 1808, the government reinstated the Nicholson Act, though it did little to prevent America and England from sailing into another war.

1818 – A regiment of Indians and blacks was defeated at the Battle of Suwanna, in Florida, ending the first Seminole War. 1838 Aug 18, A 6-ship American expedition sailed from Hampton Roads, Virginia, under Lt. Charles Wilkes to search for the continent of Antarctica.

1847 – U.S. forces defeated the Mexicans at Cerro Gordo in one of the bloodiest battle of the war. On 12 April, Lieutenant Pierre G. T. Beauregard, of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, had determined that possession of Atalaya Hill would enable the Mexican position to be turned, and on 15 April, Captain Robert E. Lee discovered a path around the Mexican left to the hill. General David E. Twiggs’ division took the hill on 17 April, advancing up the slopes to El Telegrafo. Santa Anna reinforced El Telegrafo with Brigadier General Ciriaco Vasquez’s 2d Light, 4th, and 11th Infantry. Captain Edward J. Steptoe set up his battery on Atalaya Hill and Major James C. Burnham set up a howitzer across the river.

At 7:00 am on 18 April, Twiggs directed William S. Harney’s brigade to move against the front of El Telegrafo while Bennett C. Riley attacked from the rear. The combination easily took the hill, killing General Vasquez, and Captain John B. Magruder turned the Mexican guns on the retreating Mexicans. Simultaneously, James Shields’ brigade attacked the Mexican camp and took possession of the Jalapa road. Once they realized they were surrounded, the Mexican commanders on the three hills surrendered and by 10:00 am, the remaining Mexican forces fled. General Santa Anna, caught off guard by the Fourth Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry, was compelled to ride off without his artificial leg, which was captured by U.S. forces and is still on display at the Illinois State Military Museum, in Springfield, Illinois.

1848 – U.S. Navy expedition to explore the Dead Sea and the River Jordan, commanded by LT William F. Lynch, reaches the Dead Sea.

1861 – Colonel Robert E. Lee turned down an offer to command the Union armies.

1861 – Battle of Harpers Ferry, VA.

1862 – Union mortar boats, Commander D. D. Porter, began a five day bombardment of Fort Jackson. Moored some 3,000 yards from Fort Jackson, they concentrated their heavy shells, up to 285 pounds, for six days and nights on this nearest fort from which they were hidden by intervening woods. The garrison heroically endured the fire and stuck to their guns.

1862 – Confederate Congress, hoping to stem the constant sweeping of the seas and inland waters by the Union fleets, passed an act authorizing contracts for the purchase of not more than six ironclads to be paid for in cotton.

1864 – Landing party from U.S.S. Commodore Read, Commander F. A. Parker, destroyed a Confederate base together with a quantity of equipment and supplies at Circus Point on the Rappahannock River, Virginia.

1864 – At Poison Springs, Arkansas, Confederate soldiers under the command of General Samuel Maxey capture a Union forage train and slaughter black troops escorting the expedition. The Battle of Poison Springs was part of broad Union offensive in the region of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. General Nathaniel Banks had led a Yankee force through Louisiana in March and April, but a defeat in northwestern Louisiana at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8th sent Banks in retreat. Union forces nearby in Arkansas were moving towards Banks’ projected thrust into Texas with the intention of securing southwestern Arkansas for the Federals.

Union General Frederick Steele occupied Camden, Arkansas, on April 15. Two days later, he sent Colonel John Williams and 1,100 of his 14,000-man force to gather 5,000 bushels of corn discovered west of Camden. The force arrived to find that Confederate marauders had destroyed half of the store, but the Yankees loaded the rest into some 200 wagons and prepared to return to Camden. On the way back Maxey and 3,600 Confederates intercepted them. Maxey placed General John Marmaduke in charge of the attack that ensued.

Williams positioned part of his force, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, between the wagon train the Confederate lines. The regiment was the first black unit in the army, comprised primarily of ex-slaves. The determined soldiers of the 1st Kansas stopped the first two Rebel attacks, but they were running low on ammunition. A third assault overwhelmed the Kansans, and the rout was on. Williams gathered the remnants of his force and retreated from the abandoned wagons. More than 300 Yankee troops were killed, wounded, or captured, while the Confederates lost just 13 killed and 81 wounded.

Most shocking was the Rebel treatment of the black troops. No black troops were captured, and those left wounded on the battlefield were brutally killed, scalped, and stripped. The Washington Telegraph, the major Confederate newspaper in Arkansas, justified the atrocity by declaring “We cannot treat Negroes taken in arms as prisoners of war without a destruction of social system for which we contend.”

1865 – Dr. Samuel A. Mudd originally claimed to have never met Booth during his initial interview with investigating detectives. Presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth, injured and fleeing Ford’s Theatre, had knocked on the door of Dr. Mudd for help.

1865 – Confederate Gen Joseph Johnston surrendered to Gen W.T. Sherman in North Carolina.

1934 – Hitler named Joachim von Ribbentrop, ambassador for disarmament.

1942 – First issue of the newspaper for U.S. armed forces, Stars and Stripes, was published.

1942 – From the decks of the USS Hornet, Col. Doolittle leads 16 B-25 bombers for a raid on Tokyo. They launch from the maximum range, 650 miles from their target. Essentially unarmed to extend their flying range, the B-25’s fly unmolested to Tokyo and drop their bombs, proceeding to China where they land at the very limits of their fuel. Although the bombing does minimal damage physically, the psychological impact is great. For the Americans, this raid symbolizes the first “strike back” at the Japanese and raises American morale substantially.

The Japanese, buoyed by their constant success in the Pacific are now forced to contemplate the implications of the war if it is allowed to be carried to Japanese soil. This change in Japanese attitude will affect military decisions in such crucial battles as the battle of Midway and the Coral Sea. For the Americans, the raid signifies that the Japanese are not invulnerable and therefore can ultimately be defeated.

1943 – An aircraft carrying the Commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, is shot down by P-38 Lighting fighters over Bougainville. Yamamoto is killed. This action is the result the interception of a coded Japanese message announcing a visit by Yamamoto. The Japanese fail to deduce that their codes are insecure.

1943 – A massive convoy of 100 transport aircraft leaves Sicily with supplies for the Axis forces. At least half the planes are shot down by Allied fighters.

1944 – American B-17 and B-24 bombers attack the Heinkel works at Oranienburg and other targets near Berlin. British Mosquito bombers strike Berlin.

1945 – Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy fire on the island of Ie Shima. After his death, President Harry S. Truman spoke of how Pyle “told the story of the American fighting man as the American fighting men wanted it told.” He was buried in his hometown of Dana, Indiana, next to local soldiers who had fallen in battle. During World War II, journalist Ernie Pyle, America’s most popular war correspondent, is killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific. Pyle, born in Dana, Indiana, first began writing a column for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain in 1935. Eventually syndicated to some 200 U.S. newspapers, Pyle’s column, which related the lives and hopes of typical citizens, captured America’s affection.

In 1942, after the United States entered World War II, Pyle went overseas as a war correspondent. He covered the North Africa campaign, the invasions of Sicily and Italy, and on June 7, 1944, went ashore at Normandy the day after Allied forces landed. Pyle, who always wrote about the experiences of enlisted men rather than the battles they participated in, described the D-Day scene: “It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.” The same year, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished correspondence and in 1945 traveled to the Pacific to cover the war against Japan.

1945 – The last German forces resisting in the Ruhr Pocket surrender. Field Marshal Model, commanding German Army Group B inside the pocket, commits suicide. About 325,000 German prisoners have been taken in this area by the Allied forces. Meanwhile, the US 9th Army captures Magdeburg and troops of US 3rd Army cross the Czechoslovakian border after a rapid advance.

1945 – Airship training for U.S. Coast Guard personnel (nine officers & 30 enlisted men) began at NAVAIRSTA Lakehurst, New Jersey.

1946 – US recognized Tito’s Yugoslavia government.

1946 – The League of Nations was dissolved.

1948 – International Court of Justice opened at Hague, Netherlands.

1949 – The keel for the aircraft carrier USS United States is laid down at Newport News Drydock and Shipbuilding. However, construction is canceled five days later, this would be the last straw culminating in the Revolt of the Admirals.

1951 – Having completed their tour of duty, the first 385 to rotate out of Korea, set sail from Korea to Japan and finally back to the United States.

1961 – Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev sent a letter to Pres. Kennedy with an “urgent call” to end “aggression” against Cuba.

1965 – US planes hit targets that include barracks at Dongthanh, a ferryboat in the Song Trac River, and highways in the southern section of North Vietnam.

1966 – In a Senate speech, majority leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT) declares that the current political crisis in Vietnam makes it urgent that the US engage in direct talks with North Vietnam, Communist China, ‘and such elements in South Vietnam as may be essential to the making and keeping of a peaceful settlement’ of the war. Peking rejects the proposal.

1967 – The US pledges an additional $150 million in economic aid for a total annual amount of $700 million, a new annual record.

1967 – General Westmoreland notifies the Joint Chiefs of additional troop needs. For an ‘optimum force,’ he requests four and two-thirds divisions — 201,250 more troops — to boost the total US strength in Vietnam to 671,616 men.

1969 – At a news conference, President Nixon says he feels the prospects for peace have “significantly improved” since he took office. He cited the greater political stability of the Saigon government and the improvement in the South Vietnamese armed forces as proof. With these remarks, Nixon was trying to set the stage for a major announcement he would make at the Midway conference in June. While conferring with South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, Nixon announced that the United States would be pursuing a three-pronged strategy to end the war. Efforts would be increased to improve the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so that they could assume responsibility for the war against the North Vietnamese–Nixon described this effort as “Vietnamization.”

1971 – South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky denounces US Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern’s stated interest in investigating charges that Ky is implicated in opium smuggling.

1971 – Over the next four days, US jets carry out a 30th raid since 1 January against missile sites and anti-aircraft positions in North Vietnam.

1972 – Secretary of Defense Melvin laird before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the does not rule out the possibility of blockading and mining Haiphong harbor. Every area of North Vietnam, he says, is subject to bombing for the protection of the 85,000 US troops still in Vietnam.

1978 – The U.S. Senate voted 68-32 to turn the Panama Canal over to Panamanian control on Dec. 31st, 1999.

1983 – The U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, is almost completely destroyed by a car-bomb explosion that kills 63 people, including the suicide bomber and 17 Americans. The terrorist attack was carried out in protest of the U.S. military presence in Lebanon. In 1975, a bloody civil war erupted in Lebanon, with Palestinian and leftist Muslim guerrillas battling militias of the Christian Phalange Party, the Maronite Christian community, and other groups. During the next few years, Syrian, Israeli, and United Nations interventions failed to resolve the factional fighting, and on August 20, 1982, a multinational force featuring U.S. Marines landed in Beirut to oversee the Palestinian withdrawal from Lebanon.

The Marines left Lebanese territory on September 10th but returned on September 29, following the massacre of Palestinian refugees by a Christian militia. The next day, the first U.S. Marine to die during the mission was killed while defusing a bomb, and on April 18th, 1983, the U.S. embassy in Beirut was bombed. On October 23, Lebanese terrorists evaded security measures and drove a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. Fifty-eight French soldiers were killed almost simultaneously in a separate suicide terrorist attack. On February 7, 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced the end of U.S. participation in the peacekeeping force, and on February 26 the last U.S. Marines left Beirut.

1988 – The United States launches Operation Praying Mantis against Iranian naval forces in the largest naval battle since World War II. Operation Praying Mantis was an attack by U.S. naval forces within Iranian territorial waters in retaliation for the Iranian mining of the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq war and the subsequent damage to an American warship. On 14 April, the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts had struck a mine while deployed in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will, the 1987–88 convoy missions in which U.S. warships escorted reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. The explosion blew a 25-foot (7.6-meter) hole in the Roberts’s hull and nearly sank it. The crew saved their ship with no loss of life, and Roberts was towed to Dubai on April16th.

After the mining, U.S. Navy divers recovered other mines in the area. When the serial numbers were found to match those of mines seized along with the Iran Ajr the previous September, U.S. military officials planned a retaliatory operation against Iranian targets in the Persian Gulf. This battle was the largest of the five major U.S. surface engagements since the Second World War, which also include the Battle of Chumonchin Chan during the Korean War, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Battle of Dong Hoi during the Vietnam War, and the Action in the Gulf of Sidra in 1986. It also marked the U.S. Navy’s first exchange of anti-ship missiles by ships.

1989 – Thousands of Chinese students take to the streets in Beijing to protest government policies and issue a call for greater democracy in the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC). The protests grew until the Chinese government ruthlessly suppressed them in June during what came to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

1992 – Serbia issued a protest to the United States, accusing Washington of siding with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in the Yugoslav crisis.

1994 – Former President Richard Nixon suffered a stroke at his home in Park Ridge, N.J., and was taken to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center he died four days later.

1996 – The US government will deliver $368 million in military equipment to Pakistan that was paid for in the 1980’s. Pakistan will also get $120 mil in cash that it paid for weapons and spare parts that were never manufactured.

1999 – NATO requested from Bulgaria the use of its airspace.

1999 – In Yugoslavia NATO bombers hit refineries, bridges and other targets in the 25th straight day of attacks and the heaviest strikes to date. 70% of fuel storage capability was now destroyed and Yugoslavia no longer had the ability to refine oil. In Pancevo a refinery, fertilizer plant and American-built petrochemical complex were destroyed and a dense toxic cloud was released with potential long term consequences. Pancevo’s industrial zone was bombed over 20 times within a 2-month period and created an environmental disaster.

2001 – US negotiators said China agreed to discuss the return of the US spy plane following a day of unproductive talks. Beijing and Washington staked out opposing positions on who was to blame for the incident.

2002 – Afghanistan’s former king, Mohammad Zaher Shah, returned to his country after 29 years in exile.

2003 – Burt Rutan, aircraft designer, unveiled SpaceShipOne, a rocket-powered spacecraft. He hoped to win the $10 million 1996 X Prize, offered for the 1st private launch of 3-people to an altitude of 62.5 miles twice in 2 weeks.

2003 – Iraqi opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi said he expects an Iraqi interim authority to take over most government functions from the U.S. military in “a matter of weeks rather than months.” Protesters marched in Baghdad denouncing US presence. Kurds were reported expelling Arab families from towns and villages where they had lived decades ago.

2003 – Samir Abd al-Aziz al-Najim (4 of clubs), a senior leader of the shattered Baath party, was handed over to US forces overnight by Iraqi Kurds near the northern city of Mosul. US troops in Baghdad uncovered numerous boxes of UC currency estimated at $650 million.

2003 – Iraqi police captured Hikmat Ibrahim al-Azzawi (8 of diamonds), a deputy prime minister and number 45 on an American list of the 55 most wanted Iraqis.

2003 – North Korea said it was ready to begin reprocessing more than 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods. US experts said it will give the communist state enough plutonium to make several atomic bombs.

2003 – Poland signed a deal to buy 48 US-made F-16 jet fighters for $3.5 billion, the biggest defense contract by a former Soviet bloc country since the end of the Cold War.

2009 – Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi is charged with espionage and imprisoned in Iran until 2017.

2009 – Canada’s HMCS Winnipeg and the United States’ USS Halyburton thwart Somali pirates’ attack on a Norwegian oil tanker.

2010 – Former President of the United States George Washington owes $300,000 for overdue library books he borrowed from New York Society Library five months into his presidency and which he failed to return.

2010 – US and Iraqi forces killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq in a joint American and Iraqi operation near Tikrit, Iraq. The coalition forces believed al-Masri to be wearing a suicide vest and proceeded cautiously. After the lengthy exchange of fire and bombing of the house, the Iraqi troops stormed inside and found two women still alive, one of whom was al-Masri’s wife, and four dead men, identified as al-Masri, Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi, an assistant to al-Masri, and al-Baghdadi’s son.

A suicide vest was indeed found on al-Masri’s corpse, as the Iraqi Army subsequently stated. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri at a news conference in Baghdad and showed reporters photographs of their bloody corpses. “The attack was carried out by ground forces which surrounded the house, and also through the use of missiles,” Mr Maliki said. “During the operation computers were seized with e-mails and messages to the two biggest terrorists, Osama bin Laden and [his deputy] Ayman al-Zawahiri”, Maliki added. U.S. forces commander Gen. Raymond Odierno praised the operation. “The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency”, he said. “There is still work to do but this is a significant step forward in ridding Iraq of terrorists.”

2012 – Senior U.S. officials condemn graphic photos depicting their troops posing with the mangled corpses of suspected Afghan suicide bombers on at least two separate occasions months apart. The Los Angeles Times defends its publication of the photos after being warned against the move by the U.S. military.

1721 – Roger Sherman, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born.

1764 – The English Parliament banned the American colonies from printing paper money.

1775 – At about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, march into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green.

Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from England to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents.

On April 18th, he ordered British troops to march against the Patriot arsenal at Concord and capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a military action by the British for some time, and upon learning of the British plan, Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes were ordered to set out to rouse the militiamen and warn Adams and Hancock. When the British troops arrived at Lexington, Adams, Hancock, and Revere had already fled to Philadelphia, and a group of militiamen were waiting. The Patriots were routed within minutes, but warfare had begun, leading to calls to arms across the Massachusetts countryside.

When the British troops reached Concord at about 7 a.m., they found themselves encircled by hundreds of armed Patriots. They managed to destroy the military supplies the Americans had collected but were soon advanced against by a gang of minutemen, who inflicted numerous casualties. Lieutenant Colonel Frances Smith, the overall commander of the British force, ordered his men to return to Boston without directly engaging the Americans.

As the British retraced their 16-mile journey, their lines were constantly beset by Patriot marksmen firing at them Indian-style from behind trees, rocks, and stone walls. At Lexington, Captain Parker’s militia had its revenge, killing several British soldiers as the Red Coats hastily marched through his town. By the time the British finally reached the safety of Boston, nearly 300 British soldiers had been killed, wounded, or were missing in action. The Patriots suffered fewer than 100 casualties.

The battles of Lexington and Concord were the first battles of the American Revolution, a conflict that would escalate from a colonial uprising into a world war that, seven years later, would give birth to the independent United States of America.

1778 – Marines participated in the USS Ranger’s capturing and sinking of a British schooner off the coast of Ireland.

1782 – Netherlands recognized the United States. John Adams secures the Dutch Republic’s recognition of the United States as an independent government. The house which he had purchased in The Hague, Netherlands becomes the first American embassy.

1783 – George Washington proclaims end of hostilities with British Empire.

1802 – Spain reopened the New Orleans port to American merchants.

1861 – President Lincoln issued proclamation declaring blockade of Southern ports from South Carolina to Texas Of the blockade Admiral David Dixon Potter was to later write: “So efficiently was the block­ade maintained and so greatly was it strengthened from time to time, that foreign statesmen, who at the beginning of the war, did not hesitate to pronounce the blockade of nearly three thousand miles of coast a moral impossibility, twelve months after its establishment were forced to admit that the proofs of its efficiency were so comprehensive and conclusive that no objections to it could be made.”

1861 – Captain David Glasgow Farragut, though born in the South and with a southern wife, chose to remain loyal to the Union and left his home in Norfolk, Virginia, to take up residence in New York City.

1861 – Residents of Baltimore, Maryland, attack a Union regiment while the group makes its way to Washington, D.C. Baltimore’s hostilities to the North were already well known, as just two percent of the city’s voters cast their ballots for Abraham Lincoln while nearly half supported John Breckinridge, the Southern Democratic Party candidate. Lincoln was to pass through Baltimore on his way to Washington for his inauguration, but death threats forced the president-elect to slip through the city in the middle of the night in disguise.

Baltimore was a cauldron of secessionist feeling, and these tensions boiled over on April 18th. Pro-Confederate volunteers gathered at Bolton Station to hurl insults and rocks at Pennsylvania troops as they changed trains en route to Washington. Now, on April 19th, the 6th Massachusetts regiment disembarked from a train and was met with an even more hostile crowd. Tensions rose as the 11 companies of the 6th arrived. Cobblestones rained down on the soldiers as they prepared to transfer from the President Street Station to Camden Station. Shots were fired, and when the smoke cleared four Massachusetts soldiers lay dead along with 12 Baltimoreans, while 36 troops and an undetermined number of civilians were wounded. Washington was effectively cut off from the North.

In the following months, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and hundreds of secessionist leaders were rounded up. Within six months, the Union was again in control of Baltimore.

1864 – C.S.S. Albemarle, Commander Cooke, attacked Union warships off Plymouth, North Carolina, at 3:30 in the morning. The heralded and long awaited ram had departed Hamilton on the evening of the 17th. While en route, a portion of the machinery broke down” and “the rudderhead broke off,” but repairs were promptly made and, despite the navigational hazards of the crooked Roanoke River, Cooke anchored above Plymouth at 10 p.m. on the 18th.

Failing to rendezvous with Confederate troops as planned, Cooke dispatched a boat to determine the position of the Union gunboats and shore batteries. Shortly after midnight, 19 April, the party returned and reported that Albemarle could pass over the Union obstructions because of the high stage of the water. Cooke weighed anchor and stood down to engage. Meanwhile, anticipating an attack by the ram, Lieutenant Commander Flusser lashed wooden double-enders U.S.S. Miami and Southfield together for mutual protection and concentration of firepower. As Albemarle appeared, he gallantly headed the two light wooden ships directly at the Southern ram, firing as they approached. Albemarle struck Southfield, Acting Lieutenant Charles A. French, a devastating blow with her ram.

It was reported that she “tore a hole clear through to the boiler” and Cooke stated that his ship plunged ten feet into the side of the wooden gunboat. Though backing immediately after the impact, Albemarle could not at once wrench herself free from the sinking Southfield and thus could not reply effectively to the fire poured into her by Miami. At last her prow was freed as Southfield sank, and Cooke forced Flusser’s ship to withdraw under a heavy cannonade. Small steamer U.S.S. Ceres and 105-ton tinclad Whitehead moved downriver also. The shot of the Union ships had been ineffective against the heavily plated, sloping sides of the ram.

Early in the engagement, Lieutenant Commander Flusser had been killed. Albemarle now controlled the water approaches to Plymouth and rendered invaluable support to Confederate army moves ashore giving the South a taste of the priceless advantage Union armies enjoyed in all theaters throughout the war.

1865 – Lieutenant W. H. Parker, commanding naval escort entrusted with the Confederate archives, treasury, and President Davis’ wife, successfully evaded Federal patrols en route southward from Charlotte and arrived at Washington, Georgia, on the 17th. Parker, still without orders as to the disposition of his precious trust and unable to learn of the whereabouts of President Davis and his party (including Secretary Mallory), decided to push on through to Augusta, Georgia, where he hoped to find ranking civilian and military officials.

The escort commander recorded: “We left the ladies behind at the tavern in Washington for we expected now a fight at any time.” The escort again, however, managed to elude Federal patrols and arrived without incident at Augusta where Parker placed his entrusted cargo in bank vaults and posted a guard around the building. Having learned upon arrival that armistice negotiations between Generals Sherman and Johnston were in progress, the escort commander decided to remain in the city and await the outcome of the conference.


This Wild Weasel didn’t want Desert Storm to be like Vietnam

Long before the first bombs fell on Baghdad Jan. 16, 1991, the man who would be in charge of one of the most effective air campaigns in history was hearing whispers from another war.

Then-Lt. Gen. Charles A. Horner, who, as a young captain, flew Wild Weasel missions attacking radar sites during two tours in the Vietnam War, was determined to avoid the same strategic mistakes in the Persian Gulf that plagued the U.S. military in Southeast Asia. Fortunately, his boss – Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf – and other military leaders executing Operation Desert Storm had Vietnam, and the hard lessons learned there, in their memories, as well.

An oil storage tank at a refinery that was attacked by coalition aircraft during Operation Desert Storm continues to burn days after the air strike. The refinery is located approximately seven miles west of the Kuwaiti border.

Twenty-five years later, Horner, now a retired four-star general residing in northwest Florida, looks back on the Air Force that struck Saddam Hussein’s forces in Kuwait and Iraq during Desert Storm as perhaps the best-trained force to date. Five days after Iraq invaded Kuwait Aug. 2, 1990, a U.S.-led coalition of about 30 nations placed more than 900,000 troops in the Arabian Peninsula in what became known as Operation Desert Shield, the campaign to prevent Iraqi incursions into Saudi Arabia, and build up forces to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait should diplomacy fail to secure a peaceful solution. When the United Nations Security Council for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait came and went the following January, Desert Storm kicked off with an air campaign that would become the largest employment of U.S. airpower since the war in Vietnam.

“When I think back on the past 25 years after Desert Storm, I see the immense impact that particular war had on how we planned to fight in the future and the kind of equipment we would need,” Horner said. “But most of all, I think about the spirit and attitude of our young warriors who were going to be faced with the next battle.

“I’m so proud of the way we performed in Desert Storm because of the leadership we had from Schwarzkopf and (Gen. Wilbur L. “Bill” Creech, former Tactical Air Command commander), and the way we had equipment that worked. We had all of the advantages the world had not seen before Desert Storm.”

A framed photo on a bookshelf, of then Colonel, and now retired Gen. Charles A. Horner and his wife Mary Jo, in front of his F-15 at Luke AFB, where he was wing commander in March of 1981. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Lessons learned

One of Horner’s first priorities, while planning the air strategy as Schwarzkopf’s joint force air component commander, was to avoid making what he considered the main mistake from Vietnam. He didn’t want bombing target selection to come from the president or defense secretary. As the architect of the air campaign against Iraq, Horner wanted targeting decisions to be made by commanders directly involved in the area of operations. “Washington was not the place to plan a war,” he had said. “If people there wanted to fight, let them come to the theater (of combat).

“That is the lesson of Vietnam,” Horner said in “Airpower Advantage: Planning the Gulf War Campaign 1989-1991,” a book by Diane Putney for the Air Force History and Museums Program. “Remember our great president (Lyndon B. Johnson) saying, ‘They don’t bomb a shit house in North Vietnam if I don’t approve it.’

“Well, I was the guy bombing the shit houses, and I was never going to let that happen if I ever got in charge because it is not right. If you want to know whether war is going to be successful or not, just ask where the targets are being picked. If they say, ‘We picked them in Washington,’ get out of the country. Go to Canada until the war is over because it is a loser.”

Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner had a major role in the air power strategy of the Gulf War of 1990-1991. Horner commanded U.S. and Allied airpower during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He had previously served as a combat pilot flying F-105s in Vietnam where he was awarded a Silver Star. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

The day Horner, then the commander of 9 th Air Force and U.S. Central Command Air Forces at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, received the call that eventually launched Desert Storm, he was flying his F-16 Fighting Falcon on an air-to-air training mission near the North Carolina coast with two F-15 Eagles from Langley AFB, Virginia.

He’d expected the call from Schwarzkopf since the invasion of Kuwait. But once the call came from the Federal Aviation Administration to notify him to return to Shaw AFB, he instantly knew what it meant. He and his staff had to prepare the air portion of a CENTCOM briefing for President George H.W. Bush at Camp David, Maryland, the next morning.

Kuwait invasion

After the invasion of Kuwait, the coalition’s first priority was protecting Saudi Arabia. Horner developed friendships with the Saudis earlier in his career during Operation Earnest Will in 1987-88 and other exercises and remained in Saudi Arabia after he and Schwarzkopf went there a few days after the invasion of Kuwait. The coalition organized for Desert Shield and Storm gave the U.S. military an opportunity to work closely with each other, as well as with forces from other nations, as they would later do during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

A massive prepositioning of equipment, supplies, munitions and fuels around the Persian Gulf, begun by the Joint Rapid Deployment Force in the 1980s, expedited preparations to conduct military operations in the area of responsibility, Horner said.

Military trucks are unloaded from the nose ramp of a C-5A Galaxy transport aircraft of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Military Airlift Command, in support of Operation Desert Shield.

“When our aircraft landed in the Gulf airfields, they were met with spares, fuel, munitions, living facilities and all the other things they would need to survive and fight,” he wrote in “Desert Storm: A View From the Front.” “This material had been stored on ships anchored in theater and in leased warehouses throughout the AOR.”

Well before the crisis in the Gulf began, the military had trained for an eventual showdown with Iraq. A month before the invasion, a CENTCOM war game used a scenario of a “Country Orange” attacking Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from the north. When Schwarzkopf, who died in 2012, accepted command of CENTCOM in November 1989, he told his military leaders that since a war with Russia wasn’t likely to happen, “we have to find a new enemy or go out of business,” Horner said.

At the time Iraq invaded Kuwait, it fielded the world’s fifth-largest army at a million soldiers larger than the U.S. Army and Marine Corps combined, according to a Los Angeles Times article on Aug. 13, 1990. The weaknesses coalition military planners hoped to exploit included an incompetent senior staff chosen for their devotion to Hussein rather than their military prowess, and only about one-third of its soldiers were experienced combat troops, according to U.S. officials quoted in the article.

After its eight-year war with Iran, Iraq owed a huge debt to Kuwait and many other Arab nations, which funded Iraq’s purchase of high-tech weapons, according to an American Patriot Friends Network article published in 2004. Kuwait’s oil made it one of the richest countries in the world and cash-strapped Iraq wanted it.

Pilot gazes out into the wild blue yonder.

“When General Schwarzkopf took command of (CENTCOM), he said we have to plan for an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia because Iraq came out of the Iran-Iraq War very powerful militarily,” Horner said. “So, of course, they were sitting right next to the Fort Knox in the Middle East. So when it happened, I wasn’t surprised. We’d anticipated it was going to happen, but the speed with which we had to react was surprising.”

A United Nations Security Council deadline for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait passed on Jan. 15, 1991, with no action from Iraq, so at 2 a.m. Jan. 17 (Baghdad time), coalition forces began a five-week bombardment of Iraqi command and control targets, beginning with eight Army AH-64 Apache helicopters led by two Air Force MH-53 Pave Hawks that destroyed radar sites near the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border, according to Putney. About an hour later, 10 Air Force F-117 Nighthawk stealth bombers, protected by three EF-111 Aardvarks, and Navy BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles struck targets in Baghdad. The initial attacks allowed the coalition to gain control of the air for its fighter aircraft.

At the cessation of hostilities, coalition forces had destroyed 3,700 of Iraq’s 4,280 tanks and 2,400 of its 2,870 armored vehicles. The bomb tonnage dropped by U.S. planes per day equaled the average tonnage dropped on Germany and Japan during the entirety of World War II, according to the “White Paper – Air Force Performance in Desert Storm, Department of the Air Force,” published in April 1991.”

“The things that guided our strategy was to be unrelenting and to bring such a powerful force, so quickly and so thoroughly on the enemy, that they would be forced to leave Kuwait,” Horner said. “It was not going to be piecemeal. It was not going to be to play Mr. Nice Guy. It was going to be as vicious as possible, and that drove the strategy. The second part of our strategy was to get control of the air first and foremost, which we did not do in Vietnam.”

Civilian and military officials pose for a group photograph prior to discussing U.S. military intervention in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield. Dignitaries include, from left: P. D. Wolfowitz, under sec. of defense for policy Gen. C. Powell, chrm., Joint Chiefs of Staff R. Cheney, sec. of defense Gen. N. Schwarzkopf, cmdr-in-chief, USCENTCOM Lt. Gen. C. Waller, dep. chief of staff, USCENTCOM and Maj. Gen. R. Johnston. Back row: Lt. Gen. C. Horner, cmdr., 9th AF, TAC Lt. Gen. J. Yeosock, cmdr., 3rd Army Vice-Adm. S. Arthur, cmdr., Seventh Flt. and Col. Johnson.

The result was a prolonged air campaign that set up a short but decisive ground campaign. As the air war kicked off the first night of Desert Storm, Horner watched from the tactical air control center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as coalition aircraft flew north. At first, he wasn’t completely confident about how successful the attack would be or the cost it would take in aircraft and personnel.

However, Horner knew it was going well when he saw CNN’s live feed from Baghdad disappear. As CNN’s television satellite transmission equipment was not allowed entry into the highly controlled, secretive, authoritarian state, they had to transmit through antennas atop the ATT building in downtown Baghdad. It was the same building that housed Iraq’s air defense operations and from which communications emanated from Iraq’s air command control system. It was the target of one of the first bombs dropped from U.S. planes. When CNN reporter Peter Arnett went off the air at the precise moment the strike was scheduled, cheers went through the air operations center, Horner said. If CNN was off the air, so was Iraq’s air defense system.

“So as the sun came up the next morning and all of our airplanes were coming home except one, we became aware that this was going to go a lot better than even the best critics thought it might,” Horner said.

The remains of an Iraqi air base, May 12, 2003. After Desert Storm the base was not used for flight operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dave Buttner) (Released)

By Feb. 23, the air campaign was mostly complete and coalition ground forces swiftly drove the Republican Guard from Kuwait and advanced into Iraq, forcing a ceasefire within 100 hours. Desert Storm was won at a much lower cost than even in the most optimistic prognostications, with 148 Americans killed in action and another 145 non-battle deaths. The Defense Intelligence Agency numbered the Iraqi casualties at about 100,000, although later the figure was disputed to be more in the 20,000 to 40,000 range.

Horner said bombing campaign proved most productive attacking Republican Guard and armor units because Hussein depended on them to retain power. The attacks to gain control of the air, coupled with medium-altitude operations, air-to-air excellence and defense suppression attacks were also effective, he said.

1,400 soldiers of the 440th Iraqi Brigade surrender to the U. S. Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable on Failaka Island, Kuwait Mar 03, 1991. (Official U. S. Marine Corp photograph by SSgt Angel Arroyo 13th MEU SOC Combat Camera/Released)

“When the ground war started, I expected rapid gains given the fact that we had reduced the Iraqi ground units to a level of ‘not combat ready,’ using our Army’s definition,” Horner said. “What surprised most of us was the surrender rate. That was beyond our expectations. Once I became certain, early in the war, that our losses were manageable, I knew the ground war would go well, but I underestimated how well.”

Horner, who co-wrote his account of the air war with the late Tom Clancy in “Every Man a Tiger,” gives much of the credit for the training of the force he led during Desert Storm to Creech and Marine Corps Gen. George B. Crist, Schwarzkopf’s predecessor as CENTCOM commander-in-chief, who both placed great importance on making training as close to real world as possible. They led the push for more realistic exercises, an emphasis on aircraft maintenance, bomb scores, and the right tactics, which all came together during Desert Storm.

A close-up view of M-117 750-pound bombs loaded onto the pylon of a B-52G Stratofortress aircraft prior to a bombing mission against Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm.

Another lesson from Crist that played into Horner’s strategy was to force decisions down to the lowest level and hold those people responsible. Horner saw the benefits of that policy during a meeting with a munitions technical sergeant. Horner was visiting the bomb dock where munitions were built and saw the NCO sitting on a dust-covered wooden crate, and he asked him how things were going and if he was running into any problems.

“He said, ‘Well, those dumb guys in Riyadh, (Saudi Arabia), meaning me, told me one day to load 2,000-pound bombs on each F-16,” Horner said, smiling. “Those dummies didn’t know that I didn’t have any 2,000-pound bombs, so I went ahead and put four 1,000-pound bombs on each of the airplanes, and the mission flew. If he had not been empowered, all he had to do was say I don’t have two 2,000-pound bombs, and we would have never gotten those two planes off. It was empowerment that made the difference, and that was one of the secrets we saw in Desert Storm.”

F-16A, F-15C and F-15E flying during Desert Storm. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Iraq’s air force was almost non-existent during Desert Storm. Hussein hoped to wait out the coalition bombardment, which he didn’t expect would last more than four or five days. As a result, gaining control of the air almost immediately allowed the coalition forces to interdict supply lines and degrade command and control links, according to a GlobalSecurity.org article. Air supremacy also drastically destroyed the will of the Iraqi army they surrendered in droves when the ground war began 38 days later.

Aside from the superior training that was on display during Desert Shield and Storm, Horner believes another legacy of the first war in the Gulf was the technological advances it put on display for the Air Force.

Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner had a major role in the air power strategy of the Gulf War of 1990-1991. Horner commanded U.S. and Allied airpower during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He had previously served as a combat pilot flying F-105s in Vietnam where he was awarded a Silver Star. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

“I think the American public and the world were amazed at the technology that was exposed by Desert Storm,” he said. “The stealth of the F-117 and its ability to go anywhere in heavily defended areas of the world and carry out its mission with absolute precision, the training of our air-to-air combat people and the ability to defeat a very sophisticated surface-to-air missile threat all came into play, and they weren’t appreciated because of our experiences in previous wars such as Vietnam. It served us very well and created an illusion that we were more successful than we really were. But I’ll accept that.”