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Secretary McNamara Outlines U.S. Retaliatory Plans if Attacked by Soviet Nukes

Jan. 30, 1963 - The United States will “retaliate in kind” to any Soviet nuclear attack — striking back at Russian cities “in a controlled and deliberate way” if American cities are hit, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara (pictured center with President Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor) said today. Mr. McNamara coolly outlined for Congress how an American “second strike force” would respond if Russia unleashed nuclear war on this country. Mr. McNamara told Congress that, allowing for U.S. losses from the first attack by Russia and failure of weapons to get to Soviet targets, “we calculate that our forces today could still destroy the Soviet Union” without any help from Tactical Air Force units, Navy carrier aviation, or intermediate range missiles based in Europe. However, he said, even with an extensive missile defense system and a more elaborate civil defense program than any now planned, a nuclear exchange would bring “casualties in the tens of millions.”


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