Monday, October 15, 2012

Cuban Missile Crisis Military Geography Briefing

On October 14, 1962 an American U2 spy plane flew over the island of Cuba and took photos of Soviet military-built missile facilities.  The United States saw the facilities as part of a Soviet first strike operation.   The Soviets meanwhile saw no difference between their desires for nuclear weapons in Cuba and American nuclear weapons already in Turkey, which border the Soviet Union.  The tension quickly built up between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to the point each side nearly started World War III.

Thankfully war was averted though few Americans fully understood what occurred.  American President John Kennedy sought to explain the situation and dispel beliefs that the Soviets had kept weapons hidden on the island.  To do so the Defense Intelligence Agency's John Hughes went on television on February 6, 1963 and used geographic tools such as maps and photo interpretation to explain the Soviet buildup, threat, and withdrawal.

Below are eight clips from the briefing. 

















Today the use of photo interpretation and maps to investigate non-geography oriented subjects is common place. For example public agencies in charge of wildlife management, fire control, military planning use these techniques.  Even private groups like those interested in real estate development or legal issues with property ownership will study maps and recent imagery to obtain on the ground facts photos give as well as other, less visible factors maps describe.

No comments: