War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Lew Allen, 1987
Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.
Gen. Lew Allen was a U.S. Air Force four-star General and the tenth chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force from 1978-1982. In the interview he discusses the development of the Minuteman and MX missile systems. He describes the triad defense system, which includes land, air, and sea defenses, and emphasizes the importance of each leg of the triad. He explains the development of U.S. military technology emphasizing accuracy and efficiency in relation to what they knew the Soviets were developing emphasizing survivability of command. He explains that since the Soviets put so much effort into ensuring that their leadership would survive a nuclear attack, the U.S. had to do all that it could to develop weapons that would make them question their ability to do so, which would continue to deter nuclear war. He compares the Carter and Reagan administrations approaches to missile design. He goes into detail about the latters approach to defense policy, which was designed for a no-arms-control environment. When the Reagan administration vetoed the MX Missile base system, Allen argues, the entire system was jeopardized. He goes on to describe alternatives to the MX and to draw lessons from the whole experience.
- War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
- Missile Experimental
- Program Number
Interview with Lew Allen, 1987
- Series Description
The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.
In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989
- Program Description
Does the United States really plan to use nuclear weapons? Or is their only purpose to deter others from using them? These questions fuel debate over the Mobile Missile known as the MX.
The MX was designed in 1975 to counter the threat of large accurate missiles being bult in the Soviet Union. General Russell Dougherty of the Strategic Air Command recalls, “We had to have some more warheads ... with more accuracy. That was the rational for ... the MX.” It faced ten years of difficult questions in Congress, withing the military and from civilians. Was the missile meant to deter a Soviet attack or to survive one? One question led to another. There was one practical question: where to put the 200,000 pound 100 foot long missiles? In 1983 Congress approved production of 100 MX Peacekeeper missiles and based the first 50 in existing Minuteman silos.
- Asset Type
- Media Type
- Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles
- Military weapons
- Nuclear weapons
- Nuclear survivability
- Trident (Weapons systems)
- Van Cleave, William R.
- Environmental protection
- Intercontinental ballistic missiles
- Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
- Rand Corporation
- Weinberger, Caspar W.
- Nuclear warfare
- Haig, Alexander Meigs, 1924-2010
- United States. Air Force
- Minuteman (Missile)
- Reagan, Ronald
- United States. Presidents Commission on Strategic Forces
- Nuclear arms control
- Strategic nuclear forces triad
- MX (Weapons system)
- Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1980
- Townes Commission
- Intercontinental ballistic missiles -- Mobile basing
- Townes, Charles H.
- Deterrence (Strategy)
- Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
- Targeting (Nuclear strategy)
- United States. Air Force. Ballistic Missile Office
- Chayes, Antonia Handler, 1929-
- Toomay, J. C. (John C.), 1922-
- Jones, David C., 1921-
- NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
- War and Conflict
- Global Affairs
- Allen, Lew, 1925-2010 (Interviewee)
- Publication Information
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Lew Allen, 1987,” 02/21/1987, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 4, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_54E5D301BB3A489999370C9A8F65C006.
- MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Lew Allen, 1987.” 02/21/1987. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 4, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_54E5D301BB3A489999370C9A8F65C006>.
- APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Lew Allen, 1987. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_54E5D301BB3A489999370C9A8F65C006