The access the military gives 60 Minutes is always remarkable (like here and here), and this time around, David Martin got the red carpet treatment at US Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which controls America’s nuclear arsenal and cyber weapons, among other things, and aboard an Ohio class nuclear ballistic missile submarine.
Although there isn’t really a ton of new information in the segment, the visuals are impressive. Gone are the old smoke-filled, Dr. Strangelove-esque command and control rooms and in their place are far more “corporate” atmospheres crowded with desktop computers. Still present are the dreadful clocks that show time till impact for both side’s missiles, as well as the freakishly nonchalant escape clock. You also get an abbreviated idea about how the President decides how to respond to a nuclear attack, and how an Ohio class boomer launches its Trident D5 ballistic missiles.
Maybe one of the most intriguing parts is the access the 60 Minutes crew got to an E-6B Mercury looking glass/TACAMO (Take Charge And Move Out) national airborne command post. In particular there is an especially frank conversation with the E-6B’s weather officer who has the grim secondary job of predicting the direction of massive clouds of nuclear fallout following a nuclear exchange and how many millions of people they will kill.
The operation is seriously no joke and seeing it in this manner offers a stark reminder of just how having calm, cool-headed people running the whole operation is absolutely essential to the survival of the human race.
Anyway, the piece is well worth 13 minutes of your life.
Check out the segment by clicking over to the official 60 Minutes site here.
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