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Power of Decision


(YouTube link)

Power of Decision is a short film obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. This four-minute preview is only a part of the 12-minute video you can watch at the link.

Washington, D.C., February 19, 2011 - "The Power of Decision" may be the first (and perhaps the only) U.S. government film depicting the Cold War nightmare of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear conflict. The U.S. Air Force produced it during 1956-1957 at the request of the Strategic Air Command. Unseen for years and made public for the first time by the National Security Archive, the film depicts the U.S. Air Force's implementation of war plan "Quick Strike" in response to a Soviet surprise attack against the United States and European and East Asian allies. By the end of the film, after the Air Force launches a massive bomber-missile "double-punch," millions of Americans, Russians, Europeans, and Japanese are dead.

In this scenario, the "success" of a nuclear war was defined as not having the will of the enemy imposed on the US, despite millions of citizens killed. Link -via Metafilter


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The full film is not 12 minutes, it is closer to an hour. There are 6 reels that are individual videos that will play one after the other. The first one is 12 minutes, the others are 8-10 minutes long.
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I was in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the
late 70's. The mindset of the flight crews was
(had to be) the same as these folks. Do the job
by rote and don't think about the killing.

On another note, the base I was at, Loring AFB
in Maine would have been the first place in CONUS
to get hit. We were told there was a Soviet sub
just outside of 200 miles that had a IRBM with our
name on it. Living at ground zero at 18 years old,
yeeeesh........
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thanks for sharing! i've always had this (some might say slightly morbid) fascination with the Cold War. the one thing that surprised me the most about this video, compared to the other similar videos i've seen (whether training footage or "hypothetical" like this), is how overly-simplified and matter-of-fact they made the process look. whether it's a result of the political climate at the time or the fact that they only had 12 minutes to make their point (probably a lot of both), it still leans way more towards anti-Communist propaganda rather than accurately showing what the actual process would entail (which is extremely complicated). most of the other declassified footage regarding this tends to be much more realistic and "scientific" in its presentation.

on a lighter note: the guy at the beginning had an AWESOME necktie-microphone!
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A remarkable view into the mindset of the U.S Air Force at that time.

Interesting to see the attention given to missing planes and air crews, in contrast to the brief mention at the end of the '60 million casualties' in the U.S population. And the listing of U.S. cities nuked in this hypothetical 4-day war does not include Washington DC - I guess there was no need to alarm any officials with funding authority over the USAF..

The USAF perspective in this film adds another dimension to events of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis - with even shorter hair-triggers from advances in ballistic missiles. I recommend seeing the film "Thirteen Days" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0146309/) to see Gen. LeMay translate those tactical concerns into efforts to push the country into a nuclear war.
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