Q: By the late fifties the basic philosophy of the Strategic Air Command's
war plans had not changed. Isn't that right. The idea was still to deter attack
by threatening strategic targets in Russia. But the targets had multiplied and
the stockpiles had multiplied.
JE: That's correct. And it got to be quite a job...My office was three stories
underground. And I had there a room that was bigger than this room [50 x 60
feet], as I can see it, which was a computer room. And they were all full of
great big cabinets, computer cabinets...But these computers were used to really
monitor the SAC war plan. The timing would change. We'd crank into the
computers the weather program for that month (winds aloft and target
visibility), and would adjust the timing on the takeoff of the airplanes to--
Each month, the timing might be a little different. And we would route them--
A computer would enable us to route them so they wouldn't fly into somebody
else's bomb blast, or if there was somebody else's radioactive cloud from a
target that had been hit someplace else. Coordinating the SAC war plan at that
time was a very, very complicated operation, and we couldn't have done it
without this room full of computers.
I know now how primitive it was. The heat that was generated by all of these
glowing tubes and things was tremendous. It took a tremendous air conditioning
load. Further on downstream, that whole room full of machine could have been
handled by a a computer about the size of your desk. And I think today it'd
probably go into something about the size of a cigarette package. But it took
a computer to handle the SAC war plan during the time that I was there. So it
did get very big and very complex.
Q: All of this was in support of what would have been an absolutely
devastating attack on an enemy.
JE: That's correct. And General Power used to say he'd sure like to have all
the Russians' top staff people over, and have them visit SAC headquarters and
be able to give them a briefing on the SAC war plan. He said he thought that
would be a very effective way of letting them know just exactly what could be
done to [them]. But you're right. Passing the word back and forth. To have
this capability and not be able to let people know that it was there, and
without telling them in specifics what it was, so they'd know where to-- how to
counter it, took some pretty clever people in the communications business.
That wasn't my problem.
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