So You Want to Be a Soviet Navy Political Officer
The term “Soviet political officer” aboard a warship during the Cold War conjures up images of an iron-willed dogmatist — in the style of The Hunt for Red October — at odds with the military officers entrusted with running a ship at sea. In reality, the job wasn’t that... Read more
Sí, la CIA voló aviones espía U-2 desde portaaviones
El 1 de mayo de 1960, la Unión Soviética derribó un avión espía U-2 de la CIA y capturó al piloto, Francis Gary Powers. El incidente supuso una crisis internacional para la agencia de inteligencia estadounidense. La cumbre que estaba previsto que mantuvieran el presidente Dwight Eisenhower y el... Read more
You Needed Grit to Dive On a Target in an A-4 Skyhawk
Modern jet fighters continue to grow ever more complicated and more fantastically expensive. But some of the most influential aircraft in history succeeded instead because they could do their job pretty well at a very reasonable cost. Such was the case of the agile A-4 Skyhawk, a small but... Read more
The Soviets Built a High-Flying Jet to Shoot Down Balloons
During the Cold War, the United States sent hundreds of high-altitude surveillance balloons on meandering intelligence-collection missions over the Soviet Union — a practice which continued after the Soviet shootdown of American U-2 pilot Gary Powers in 1960. Difficult to detect and largely out of reach at altitudes of... Read more
Growing Up CIA

Growing Up CIA

War College July 27, 2017

Despite some close calls, the United States and the Soviet Union never engaged in a full-scale conflict with each other during the Cold War. The fear of nuclear Armageddon loomed for decades but never occurred. The world avoided the devastation thanks to the efforts of politicians, spies and soldiers.... Read more
Preparing for Doomsday
Has there ever been a nation as dedicated to preparing for doomsday as the United States? If that’s a thought that hasn’t crossed your mind, maybe it’s because you didn’t spend part of your life inside Cheyenne Mountain. That’s a tale I’ll get to soon, but first let me... Read more
Yes, the CIA Flew U-2 Spy Planes From Aircraft Carriers
On May 1, 1960, the Soviet Union shot down a CIA U-2 spy plane and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers. It was an international crisis for America’s intelligence agencies. A planned summit between Pres. Dwight Eisenhower and Premier Nikita Khrushchev was scuttled, much to Eisenhower’s embarrassment and to... Read more
The Lovely Little Town That Would Have Been Absolutely Screwed by World War III
This story first appeared on Sept. 27, 2013. For 40 years, during the height of the Cold War, the future battleground of World War III was a little known place. Just east of the West German town of Fulda, near the Inter-German Border, it was one of the most... Read more
The Sverdlovsk Incident Was One of the World’s Worst Bio Weapons Mishaps
In October 1979, a West German newspaper run by Soviet émigrés ran a vague story alleging that an explosion in a military factory in Sverdlovsk — now Yekaterinburg — had released deadly bacteria, killing as many as a thousand people. The story swiftly drew attention from other Western newspapers... Read more
NATO Bombed Soviet Submarines With Tiny, Annoying Magnets
At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had so many hundreds of deadly submarines at sea that Western war planners willing to try almost any possible countermeasure, however goofy sounding. Some seemingly crazy ideas proved actually worthwhile, such as the underwater Sound Surveillance System—a vast chain... Read more
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