Posted by: Tobias | August 12, 2008

And this is what we call overkill

Apropos my recent post about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hirshima, here is a small anecdote about US nuclear strategy during the height of the Cold War:

Robert McNamara, for example, visited the Omaha offices of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff for a briefing about the U.S. nuclear target list in February 1961, shortly after he became secretary of defense. McNamara was curious to compare the targeting-system criteria to a target known to have been destroyed, Hiroshima, burned out by a mass fire after a fifteen-kiloton bomb, Little Boy, exploded 1,900 feet above the city center on 6 August 194[5]. This dialogue ensured:

Q. — McNamara — Have you applied your proceedures to Hiroshima?
A. — Smith — Yes. 3 DGZs of 80 KT each.

That is, were Hiroshima still a target, the JSTPS would have identified three designated ground zeros within the city and would have assigned three nuclear weapons, each equivalent to eighty kilotons of TNT, to destroy them.

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