Is the Military Portrayed Correctly in the Movie 13 Days?

by Debra Conway

Though there have been complaints of "one-dimensional" portrayal of the military during the crisis, let's look at the historical record regarding the military during the missile crisis:

===> Here they are planning a "massive military committment" for war against Cuba when JFK asked for a "surgical strike" plan.

Oct 20, '62 President Kennedy meets with the full group of planning principals. He notes that the airstrike plan as presented is not a "surgical" strike but a massive military commitment that could involve heavy casualties on all sides. As if to underscore the scale of the proposed U.S. military attack on Cuba, one member of the JCS reportedly suggests the use of nuclear weapons, saying that the Soviet Union would use its nuclear weapons in an attack. President Kennedy directs that attention be focused on implementing the blockade option, calling it the only course of action compatible with American principles. The scenario for the full quarantine operation, covering diplomatic initiatives, public statements, and military actions, is reviewed and approved. Kennedy's address to the nation is set for October 22, at 7:00P.M.

===> Still warmongering, here they ask JFK for additional strikes -- "several hundred bombing sorties."

Oct 21, '62 At a meeting in the Oval Office, the commander of the Tactical Air Command (TAC), General Walter C. Sweeney, meets with President Kennedy and other top officials to discuss the air attack concept. Sweeney tells the group that to eliminate the missiles in Cuba, TAC believes that additional strikes are required on, at a minimum, Soviet SAM sites and airfields, and that altogether several hundred bombing sorties would be required. (Document 25, Robert McNamara, Notes on Military Briefing for President Kennedy, 10/21/62)

===> Fearing the military may act independently of the White House, JFK puts in this serious safeguard.

Oct 22, '62 The ExComm meets with President Kennedy for a brief discussion. The President directs that personal messages be sent to commanders of Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey instructing them to destroy or render inoperable the Jupiters if any attempt is made to fire them without Kennedy's authorization. (The Cuban Crisis, 1962, ca. 8/22/63, p. 89; Chronology of JCS Decisions Concerning the Cuban Crisis, 12/21/62

===> The Secretary of Defense SLEEPS IN HIS OFFICE due to distrust of the "generals and admirals."

Oct 23, '62 To maintain control over the generals and admirals, McNamara remained on watch around the clock in his pentagon office during the crisis.
Note: At a meeting the day before the first Russian ship reached the American blockade, he asked Admiral George Anderson what would happen when a Soviet ship reached the line. After an irritated Anderson answered that they would shoot at the ship, McNamara states, "You're not going to fire a single shot without my express permission, is that clear?" When Anderson continued to state that they should be left alone to run the blockade, McNamara tells him that this is not a blockade but a "means of communication between President Kennedy and Khrushchev," and that no force would be applied without the president's permission. Was that understood? The unhappy answer was, "Yes." (Quoted in Blight and Welch, On the Brink, p64; Mahoney, pp209-210)

These are all documented incidents.

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