An important and insightful review of how Curtis LeMay and SAC built and maintained an effective nuclear deterrent. Naturally, any book on this subject will be contentious and provoking for some readers, but totally absorbing for others. – Most Highly Recommended
NAME: Winning Armageddon, Curtis LeMay and Strategic Air Command, 1948- 1957 FILE: R2898 AUTHOR: Trevor Albertson PUBLISHER: US Naval Institute Press BINDING: hard back PAGES: 270 PRICE: US$ 40.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Cold War, MAD, Mutually Assured Deterrent, SAC, Strategic Air Command, nuclear weapons, pre-emption, bombers, attrition, survival, B50, B29, B36, B66, B47, B52
IMAGE: B2898.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y45wpjkx LINKS: DESCRIPTION: An important and insightful review of how Curtis LeMay and SAC built and maintained an effective nuclear deterrent. Naturally, any book on this subject will be contentious and provoking for some readers, but totally absorbing for others. – Most Highly Recommended The author has provided an excellent review of how the US and its Allies came to depend on weapons of such power and risk to prevent a Soviet subjugation of Europe and the loss of the Cold War. He has also provided a comprehensive and insightful review of the architect of pre-emption, General Curtis LeMay. The threat of nuclear war did not of itself win the Cold War for the Allies. What it did very effectively is prevent the huge armoured formations of the Red Army rolling West and subjugating Europe, before moving on to world domination. The complex situation in 1945 is difficult to fully appreciate today without books of this quality about the key factors shaping the Cold War through to its ending. In 1945, the major beneficiaries of WWII were the US and the USSR. Britain was exhausted after five years of bitter warfare that depleted its finances, made continued management of the British Empire difficult to impossible, and placed the nation under the control of politicians who thought their job was to manage the decline of a great country and who considered Stalin and the USSR a more desirable ally than the US. Fortunately, Britain had enough strength and patriots left to prevent the disbandment of its Royal Navy, Army and RAF and to continue the development of its own nuclear deterrent. That gave the US an additional edge against the USSR because it added a level of doubt for the Russian leaders. They could never be entirely sure what Britain might do if the Cold War heated up. The nuclear arsenal was large enough to cause the USSR some damage, particular against its armoured formations in a land war. The Russians were never sure whether, if the US held back on nuclear bombardment in the event of a Red Army assault on Europe, Britain might go it alone and use nuclear weapons against the Red Army's tanks, bringing pressure on the US to launch an all out nuclear strike on the USSR. For the US there were many questions about how to use its nuclear muscle. General Curtis LeMay had already gained first hand experience of massive conventional weapons bombing of Germany and the experimental nuclear attacks on Japan. He knew his crews and their aircraft, but he also recognized that an effective Strategic Air Command needed to convert to jet bombers, train its crews to the highest levels and develop the strategy and tactics to deter the USSR from any large scale provocation that presented a real and present danger to the US. Initially, he had piston engined bombers derived closely from WWII machines. He also had nuclear devices, but that these were about to go through a further revolution with thermonuclear devices of even greater power. He had the advantage that warning networks were being developed across Canada and in Britain to provide advanced warning of a Soviet attack on the US by nuclear armed bombers. However, that did still not guarantee that he could scramble his own bombers in an effective counter strike. The complication was that a single Russian bomber reaching US city and releasing a single bomb was going to cause massive casualties on scale unknown to Americans. Even if the US had a larger more powerful bomber force and larger stockpile of weapons, it would suffer unimaginable casualties and any victory would be a Pyrrhic Victory. That mean he had to develop a set of tactics that would produce further advantage to the point where the Soviets would believe that their best scenario was mutual destruction and a probability that they would be more seriously damaged than the US. A consequence of this effort was that the US and the USSR would be forced into an arms race that the US was far better resourced to win with its highly developed manufacturing base and the financial base that would reach a point where the Soviets would either go bankrupt or be forced to withdraw from the race. The critical period for establishing this situation would be the 1940s and 1950s. Those agitating for nuclear disarmament claimed that LeMay was risking the provoking of nuclear war with his pre-emption strategy and the tactics required to support it. Even after the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the USSR, nuclear disarmers tried claiming victory as a result of their protests, but the reality was that the work of General LeMay and SAC, together with NATO Allies, had deterred the USSR from making a nuclear strike, deterred their use of overwhelming numbers to launch an armoured assault in Europe, and confined them to a series of nasty surrogate wars that could be contained. The author has looked at all of the issues and efforts with a clarity that is rare. The work is easy to follow and fills the knowledge gap that many suffer from. Importantly, he gives LeMay the recognition he deserves for his efforts to build SAC into an effective military weapon that held the peace.