The Cuban missile crisis and it effect was the most grave outcome of the Soviet Union and United States confrontations during the Cold War. Despite the fact that the crisis was short, it was extremely intense and consumed all the attention it could get for the American President of the time, President John F.Kennedy and his advisers. The crisis lasted only sixteen days on October 1962 and only came to close following the agreement between Kennedy and his Soviet counterpart, Nikita Khrushchev, popularly known as the Kennedy-Khrushchev Agreement of 1962, signed on the 28th of October of the same year. The importance of this document cannot be overstated and as a result many scholars have put it to scrutiny and wrote several books about it. The agreement may had ended what would had resulted in the third world war. The war could be devastating because of the possible use of the nuclear weapon that both countries the US and the USSR had in their arsenal stock piles.
The Cuban missile crisis was simply a product of the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union that had built up during the Cold War. The Cold War, in its turn, developed from the class of communist and capitalist ideas.
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The Soviet Union led by Nikita Khrushchev believed that installing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in rebellious neighboring to the US Cuba would counter the growing lead of the United States in manufacturing and deploying strategic missiles arsenals. Nikita Khrushchev also devised a plan on how to provide protection to Cuban defense against any American invasions similar to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. The Soviet Union obtained the permission from Fidel Castro and immediately embarked on developing missile installation in the country. The developments went on for a while without the United States awareness which on the other hand was so engrossed in plans on how to deal with the menace of Fidel Castro.
By July 1962 there was an overwhelming indication of increased support to the Cubans by the Soviet Military. The missile installation was very noticeable, for instance, it was confirmed by present air defense missiles, IL-28 medium-range bombers, medium range ballistic missiles, high altitude air surveillance, and increased strategic air command.
Numerous photographs of the Soviet installations, some complete and some under construction were taken and shown to President John F. Kennedy and his advisers. This was an awakening call to the U.S. regarding the situation seriousness. In the preceding week, President Kennedy and his military and civilian advisors embarked on exploring various options available for the U.S. Strong debates ensued in the U.S. Administration and Soviet diplomats strongly denied any installation of Soviet offensive missiles on the territory of Cuba.
Following the discovery, President Kennedy addressed his nation in a televised announcement on the 22nd of October 1962. His announcement informed the American citizens about the discovery of Soviet installations on the territory of neighboring Cuba and stated that any nuclear missile attack originating from Cuba would be considered as Soviet Union attack and the American authorities would respond accordingly. President Kennedy also imposed a naval burn on Cuba to curtail further shipment of Soviet offensive military artilleries into Cuba. The restrictions affected military equipments that were under shipment to Cuba as well as raised the level of surveillance on Cuba. The use also reinforced its base at Guantanamo and explored various diplomatic channels such as sanctioning quarantine by the Organization of American States. Once the sanction was in effect, Kennedy issued Proclamation 3504 which established that the quarantine was in effect from the 24th of October. Then he directed the Defense Secretary to take appropriate measures to ensure the quarantine is not violated.
Several steps had already been taken to activate military force for emergency situation, since the discovery of the military installations in Cuba. Security was beefed and naval as well as air force activities in the Arabian were increased. Although, the defense of the southeastern coast of the United States had started earlier. It was not clear what course the Soviet Union would take, and following the spread rumors of the increased military operation, the United States left nothing to chance. Its entire defense system was on alert. The U.S. was ready to counter any nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.
The America strategic air command started dispatching bombers, as well as placed all military planes on alert, equipped and ready to take off within fifteen minute. The B-52 heavy bomber was placed because of extensive airborne alert from the 25th of October to engage in flights for 24 hours a day, each time one landed another one took off. In addition, the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) crews enacted a similar alert status. Submarines were assigned various stations and also stayed on alert as the American nuclear firepower was deployed to dissuade any careless confrontation. In sum, all the subdivisions of the American armed and defense forces, navy, air force, etc were on high alert and ready to engage. They included North America Defense Command (NORAD), Continental Army Command, (CONARC), Tactical Air Command (TAC), Army Forces Atlantic (ARLANT), Air Forces Atlantic (AFLANT) and many other divisions.
The operation to oversee the quarantine also allocated another command created under the special task force to ensure that the quarantine was not violated. Navy and air force resources were used to ensure that nothing was shipped into Cuba. A carrier was located near Cuba in ordre to provide support to the military operation in the area and to the Guantanamo U.S. base. The surveillance in the area monitored about 2000 ships that operated in the Southern Atlantic area and searches were conducted frequently by Navy aircrafts and SAC bombers. The speed of the movement of military personnel, ships, and aircrafts was amazing.
The continued stream of photographic intelligence information that continued to flow from Cuba indicated a rapid build-up of the offensive weapons. There was continuous construction of intermediate-rage ballistic missiles, permanent sites and additional strategic positioning of mobile medium-range ballistic missiles. With all this development in Cuba, the positioning of American forces was only a matter of time before a confrontation could develop. Ironically, the potentially devastating exchanges that arose from the quarantines were similar to those that had been placed upon Cuba. The first bound Soviet ship was intercepted on 25th of October, however the ship was allowed to proceed to Cuba after it was ascertained that it was carrying oil and not any dangerous materials. Cuban ships that had suspicious material had to change course and return to the home coasts. Tension rose when U-2 Aircraft was destroyed and the Soviet Union called to duty 14, 000 Air Force reservists, after activating 24 troop carrier squadrons and their supportive units.
During the crises, there was a constant communication between the two sides. Communication mostly involved letter correspondence, however there were both formal communication and secrete channel communication. The Soviet Union First Secretary sent formal letter to his American counterpart explaining the deterrent nature of the Cuban missile mission, stating that the Soviet Union had peaceful intentions. Nikita Khrushchev also sent a letter informing Kennedy that if America promised not to invade Cuba, or participate in any invasion of Cuba, the Soviet missile installations would be dismantled and the personnel returned to the USSR. Next, Khrushchev sent a letter on October 27 demanding demolition of the U.S. missile installations in Turkey in exchange for demolition of its installation in Cuba. The American decided to ignore the second set of demand and honor the first one.
A break through in the crisis was attained on October 28 after the Soviet Union consented to demolition of offensive weapons from Cuba and subjected to United Nations verification. The U.S. promised not to invade Cuba and all the surveillance and the quarantine that had been placed upon Cuba was removed. However, some aerial surveillance continued to ensure that all missile installations were removed from Cuba.
Nevertheless, the second crisis emerged concerning removal of Soviet IL-28 bombers from Cuba. The U.S. considered the bomber to be offensive. Diplomatic negotiations were held and the bombers were also shipped away under the supervision. The quarantine ended on November 20. The Inter-American quarantine force was dismantled as well. The agreement was later reached by the two presidents and America never invaded Cuba again.