Abstract Recently declassified archival materials permit the revelation of a previously unknown element of the early Cold War. Specifically, U.S. officials worried about an electro-magnetic attack by the Soviet Union, using hundreds of radio transmitters, on worldwide communications in advance of or in conjunction with the outbreak of general war. Ask scholars about the evolving threats to the United States from the Soviet Union in the mid-twentieth century and invariably the answer will come around to nuclear weapons and their delivery by bomber or long-range missile. In recent years, however, declassified intelligence, diplomatic, and military documents point to an additional security concern for U.S. officials in the early Cold War: the fear of electro-magnetic warfare. The term has received next to no coverage in historical accounts of the Cold War, U.S. history, or international history of the twentieth century. The phrase itself is virtually non-existent in press accounts prior to the 1960s.1 But officials at the time defined it as “the contest through preclusive use, jamming, interference and related measures for the control of all or parts of the radio spectrum or the denial of its use by others” and having a “direct bearing on diplomacy, limited or total military operations, economic warfare, psychological warfare and telecommunications policy.”2 In later years of the Cold War through the present day, electro-magnetic warfare was and remains a concern at operational or tactical levels of warfare, such as the realm of air defense radar or weapons systems. In the period under investigation here, the early 1950s, the concern with electro-magnetic warfare was at the global, strategic level, affecting all international communications. In short, recently declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), State and Defense departments, and National Security Council (NSC), unavailable to scholars until the last decade, permit a reinterpretation of previously released materials to reveal that the Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower administrations worried about the danger of a Soviet electro-magnetic attack on worldwide communications in advance of or in conjunction with the outbreak of general war. Because of the U.S. government’s dependence on high frequency (HF) radio for handling international governmental and military traffic, the implications of such an attack would have been catastrophic. By 1953, 75 percent of U.S. military traffic to Europe and 100 percent of military traffic to East Asia went by HF radio. U.S. intelligence estimated, and the administrations operated from the idea that, a Soviet attack would result in a 90–95 percent collapse of all existing electrical communications (not just military) with Europe and a total severance of transpacific communications for as long as the Soviets wished to continue the jamming. The nature of the threat, the means for determining it, and the proposed solutions for overcoming it involved highly classified signals intelligence and military communications-electronics information. This threat formed a new and unexpected aspect of the interconnection between international security, science and technology, and the Cold War for U.S. officials. It presented novel challenges because of the interrelationship with unresolved domestic communications policy issues. It forced the national security bureaucracy to confront an unusual dilemma about where responsibility for handling the problem lay at a key moment in the development of the national security state. Because of the significance of the problem and its highly-classified nature, an indeterminate portion of the archival record remains closed to researchers more than sixty years later. Nonetheless, enough material now exists to permit reconstruction of this story. Given the contemporary interest in the vulnerabilities of global communications and the Internet, a preliminary historical recounting of an earlier, if little-known, effort to confront a similar problem is useful. This narrative can shed light on an unusual threat engaged at the highest levels in the United States. It can spur a reevaluation of several interconnected aspects of mid-twentieth century U.S. history, from diplomatic and military affairs to the history of technology, radio, and computing. It can also provide inspiration for similar inquiries in other Cold War-era archival collections among allies and opponents of the United States. The U.S. fear of electro-magnetic warfare emerged from the Soviet Union’s jamming of the Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts beginning in 1948. Truman administration officials struggled to understand and cope with the problem of electro-magnetic warfare both because of its novelty and because it was not entirely clear where administrative responsibility for solutions to the problem lay. The idea that an opponent could interrupt all international communications was not an issue that had presented itself to the United States during World War II, and had no analogue in the adult memories of U.S. officials. In truth, what was seemingly novel had in fact been a concern for U.S. officials in previous generations. U.S. officials first began to consider seriously the relationship between international electrical communications and national security beginning in the 1890s. In 1898, the U.S. Navy had attacked submarine cables linking the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico to the global network, thereby interrupting the flow of information to Spain. By 1917, U.S. officials had encouraged the laying of submarine cables around the Americas and across the Pacific both to enhance the country’s ties to places of economic and political importance and to diminish the dependence on other countries’ cable networks, particularly Britain’s. The experience of being a neutral and then a belligerent in World War I convinced Wilson administration officials that access to the international communications network was of vital importance for being a world power, and that the United States should take steps to ensure continued intercontinental contact by submarine cable and long-distance radio. As communications technology evolved in the interwar years and new HF (short wave) radio proliferated, the fears turned away from the idea of being cut off to the need to ensure foreign firms did not acquire any influence over the U.S. cable and radio companies that provided international electrical communications. Despite prewar worries, the danger of large scale Axis disruption of Allied communications in World War II never materialized. After 1945, U.S. companies held a preponderance of power over international communications. The United States appeared secure, until the jamming began.3 Coming as the Cold War intensified, the apparent Soviet capability to interrupt critical international electrical communications thus added an additional level of anxiety to officials worried about the defense of Western Europe, the Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb, the outbreak of the Korean War, and the potential for extended general war with the Soviets. By April 1949, intensified regular jamming of the VOA and British Broadcasting Corporation transmissions to the Soviet Union had become a serious issue. It threatened to stop the U.S. propaganda campaign aimed at bypassing Soviet censors to place news and information within reach of ordinary Soviet citizens. State Department officials noted that the Soviet actions here were in direct violation of the agreements that it had signed at international conferences at Madrid (1932) and Cairo (1938) respecting international frequency assignments and noninterference in radio communications.4 In March 1950, with the State Department unable to solve the problem, Secretary of State Dean Acheson requested help from the nascent intelligence community to determine ways to counter the Soviet jamming. The State Department had determined the Soviets were using a new technique that could potentially expand the coverage of their jamming. Though their focus remained on the propaganda broadcasts, State Department officials worried that the Soviet jamming effort could escalate to “the disruption of all forms of radio communication.”5 The result was NSC paper number 66, “Support for the Voice of America in the Fields of Intelligence and of Research and Development,” approved on April 4, 1950.6 Truman delayed the creation of the NSC staff group on jamming called for in NSC 66 until after an ad hoc subcommittee of the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC) finished its own preliminary review of intelligence requirements, which had begun several months earlier at the State Department’s request.7 The ad hoc subcommittee concluded in June 1950 that the VOA required more information that the entire intelligence community had on the problem, and that an additional monitoring activity should be established to generate the data needed.8 The members of the U.S. Communications Intelligence Board (USCIB), the interagency group established separately from the Intelligence Advisory Committee in March 1950, decided in October to create a group to work with the VOA on the monitoring program. The military members of the USCIB would provide the necessary facilities and personnel where they could, but the CIA would be the central authority for overseeing the effort and the intelligence it generated. While the CIA was scrambling to gather information, in October 1950 the Department of State arranged an outside technical review of the jamming problem. Project Troy, as it became known, was initially to consider the matters of radio transmission and reception, but its staff expanded their inquiry to include the larger efforts at political warfare against the Soviets and the various alternate means for getting information inside of the country. Still, the key focus for the team remained ways to improve radio transmission and reception, in order to bypass or negate the effects of Soviet jamming. After several months of review, Truman and the NSC received warnings in late January and early February 1951 from three different but interconnected groups about the threat of electro-magnetic warfare and the need to take steps to mitigate its effects. In their collective tone, these reports recognized that the immediate issue was the jamming of the Voice of America, but emphasized that the larger—and more substantive—concern was the danger posed by the Soviet capacity for electro-magnetic warfare. The three reports were from the CIA (January 25), the Project Troy committee (February 15), and the president’s Communications Policy Board (February 16). The CIA provided the first comprehensive warning about the danger of electro-magnetic warfare. Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Walter Bedell Smith sent to the NSC an initial overview of the problem.9 Smith’s note covered a larger memorandum prepared by the Office of Scientific Intelligence, drafted by Ralph Clark, its deputy assistant director who had had long-standing connections in the realm of science and national security. While a full estimate under preparation would not be ready for some time, Clark advised, “I feel the situation is now so serious that we should proceed as rapidly as possible.” Clark recognized that the topic was not normally the responsibility of the new intelligence agency, but it was so split up among different ones that none of them were going to synthesize a report.10 The CIA warned that in its estimation the Soviets “are rapidly achieving the capability of launching an effective all-out electromagnetic war” against the “essential communications systems and organizations” of the United States and the western world. The large numbers of high-power transmitters under construction or finished appeared to be in excess of Soviet internal requirements. The Soviets had a “well integrated, centralized national communications system” and a well-developed jamming organization that had already been at work against the VOA and BBC. But it was not only a threat to broadcasting: “[t]he [Soviet] capability to engage in electromagnetic warfare has serious implications beyond the present attack on the VOA as it is estimated that even with the presently available facilities they can at any time effect complete disruption of most of our intercontinental point-to-point and long distance mobile radio communications. The strategically critical [North Atlantic and North Pacific] high frequency systems of all the military services and the long distance mobile communications [of the Air Force and the Navy] are highly vulnerable to this attack.” Smith urged the creation of a “central authority responsible for over-all guidance” of the CIA’s signal intelligence monitoring program and “the defensive and offensive aspects of an electromagnetic warfare program.” The entity would provide the oversight, policy coordination, and funding for the waging of electromagnetic warfare “when existing facilities are inadequate to the needs.” Such an organization could also establish a proposed transatlantic radio relay system under discussion “as a means of partially circumventing [Soviet] attacks on” the critical North Atlantic HF radio circuits. This agency would also provide guidance as necessary for preparation “for defense against Soviet attack on our radio communications systems and to mobilize the maximum United States potential for counterattack.” This represented a bold proposal to inject the CIA into operational offense and defense in electromagnetic warfare. Appended to Smith’s memorandum was a longer document drafted by Clark that laid out the scope of the perceived Soviet threat in electromagnetic warfare and the implications of Soviet actions both for the United States and world order. Clark pointed to a large construction project of transmitters beyond what was normally needed for internal use, and a highly-centralized communications system built around thirty nodal points, which the CIA had identified. This would give the Soviets, in the CIA’s estimation, a central capacity to intercept and control jamming operations across the radio spectrum on a worldwide scale. Clark wrote, “This is the only system of its kind in existence and far exceeds anything which has been contemplated by the West.”11 Based on this, the CIA’s early assessment was that the Soviets were in a position to achieve three objectives. They could continue to impede reception of international broadcasts in the Soviet Union. They could break down the worldwide telecommunications agreements by refusing to follow the rules. This would collapse the international communications system, and subsequently the Soviets could dictate terms to establish international communications monopolies to their liking. Finally, the Soviets could “effect complete disruption at any time of intercontinental point-to-point and long distance mobile communications [that is, air and naval traffic],” including especially the North Atlantic and North Pacific communications circuits. The CIA concluded, “The importance of this capability in time of war cannot be overemphasized.”12 Concerns about Soviet jamming and its effects also motivated the final report of the Project Troy team.13 Lengthy at eighty-one pages, it also contained twenty-six annexes in three additional volumes. The members of Project Troy were a wide variety of hard and social scientists, but several, including Lloyd V. Berkner and Jerome B. Wiesner, were notable both for their work in the area of physics or radio engineering and later in national security affairs. Echoing conclusions in the CIA evaluation drafted under Clark’s direction (and which Clark had shared with Berkner), the group warned that the jamming of the VOA “may be only an opening skirmish in a long struggle which we have called the electromagnetic war.” Already the Soviets had deliberately interrupted intercontinental point-to-point radio transmissions, and had maneuvered to control the allocation and use of short-wave frequencies in the Eurasian landmass. The authors warned that if the challenge was not met, “the free world may find itself without long distance communication lines.” They suggested a better organization of technical intelligence to gather the necessary information for combating the threat. And they emphasized that time was short: the Soviets could cut the transatlantic cables, jam the intercontinental radio circuits, and leave the United States with only airmail for rapid international communications.14 “We might well find ourselves listening,” D. K. Bailey wrote in Annex 24, “helpless to make intelligible reply, to the cries of Europe being engulfed. The North Atlantic communications may be thought of as the Achilles tendon of organized Western power.” While he conceded that his language was dramatic, he believed it was not unrealistic.15 The report’s authors also noted the absence of a central authority to “direct a long campaign involving all of our external lines of communication, governmental, private, and military.” While they did not suggest specific organizational changes, “the problem must be faced, as a matter of national security, now.”16 The members of Project Troy recommended a number of potential solutions to the particular problem confronting the VOA and the larger strategic threat they had identified, and they highlighted them in a series of technical annexes to the main report. These included the extension of broadcasting facilities to northeastern Alaska and northwest Africa; upgraded facilities for long-distance transmissions and portable radios for distribution to the Soviet bloc; utilization of the FM band for improved VOA signals; a proposal for improved signals intelligence gathering; bouncing the signal off of the moon or artificial satellite; and advanced technical solutions for relaying a signal by bouncing it off of the atmosphere. Most significant was the proposal for bouncing signals in the Very High Frequency range off of the ionosphere (E-layer). So long as the signal could be controlled, it would be theoretically possible to bounce a signal between 600 to 1200 miles (depending on the height of the signal’s bounce, between sixty and sixty-five miles up, and the distance of the arc of the earth’s curvature covered by the resulting angle). The Project Troy scientists were exploring the discoveries of Henry G. Booker, a Cornell University physicist who had worked with Jerome Weisner in the 1930s on radio propagation and who had in July 1950 presented at Pennsylvania State University on his research into atmospheric scatter.17 Booker became a consultant to Project Troy, and his theories—developed in conjunction with his doctoral student William Gordon—became the basis for a crash experiment in January 1951 to test new theories about bouncing signals in the 50–100 MHz range (VHF) off of the ionosphere. The Collins Radio Company and the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards successfully tested the concept between Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the Bureau’s facility in Sterling, Virginia. Because of the frequency used and the potential for a very wide channel, it could not be jammed except at close range and would afford a reliable alternative to HF circuits. A system of these transmitters could ensure that the United States would not be cut off from its forces in Europe or wherever else such circuits were extended.18 The third component was the report from the president’s Communications Policy Board (PCPB). This group was the result of an internal administration debate about whether international communications companies serving the United States should be merged in the national interest, and whether there should be an overall national communications policy, concerns that had been outstanding since before World War II. The board’s five members included James R. Killian, the president of MIT, and Lee A. Dubridge, the wartime director of MIT’s Radiation Laboratory.19 The extensive report (over 300 pages in length) offered a variety of recommendations, but one in particular is relevant: the rationale for the establishment of an entity to oversee national communications in the interests of national security. “Since our appointment,” they concluded, “the nation has passed into a state of national emergency, and our country faces deepened crisis and heightened threat of war. Thus we examined the problem of the need for appointment now of a Board or Administrator of Defense Communications, to exercise the President’s powers over the nation’s telecommunications system, public and private, in the interest of national security.”20 The PCPB proposed the establishment of either a three-person Telecommunications Advisory Board or a single telecommunications advisor to coordinate all government and non-government communications policies. Regardless of the final form, the PCPB argued, some form of oversight entity was necessary to monitor developments at the intersection of communications technology and national security. Without identifying tropospheric scatter, they alluded to it deliberately as a key example.21 Clark and Lloyd V. Berkner of Project Troy had been in close contact, and Berkner had thought that this information should go to the PCPB (that is, Killian and DuBridge). As Clark informed the Deputy DCI, “This group has been partially briefed concerning this whole electromagnetic warfare problem by representatives of the Troy Project and our thoughts on the subject will be conveyed to it through the Project.”22 The timing of these warnings intensified their weight. In Korea, the UN counteroffensive south of Seoul was underway following the disasters of the previous fall. From Europe, Dwight Eisenhower had completed the U.S./NATO strategy for the defense of Western Europe. With this, the United States was now committed to having a permanent, major military force in West Germany, Britain, and across the continent. Continual uninterrupted communications with those air and ground units would be critical. Soviet jamming of all international communications would make it impossible to remain in rapid contact with the forces in Europe or with allies anywhere in any meaningful way. It would prevent not only control of deployed forces but also their sustainment and relief. Because of the dependence on HF radio for all manner of communications (and the inadequacy of the existing submarine telegraph cables to handle the volume of wartime traffic), the jamming would serve as a force multiplier for the Soviets unlike anything seen before. It would compromise equally the United States’ ability to wage short, limited conflicts and long, sustained ones.23 This revised perception of the danger from Soviet jamming led to a review of NSC 66. Staff from the U.S. Intelligence Advisory Committee and the USCIB drafted a new form of this paper, NSC 66/1, which President Truman approved on February 28, 1951. It did not go so far as to suggest an overhaul of intelligence tasks or the assignment of certain facilities to observation of the jamming, but it did propose an “additional monitoring activity.” This was to provide information not only for assisting the VOA but also “other U.S. government communications services” in dealing with the Soviet radio interference. Interestingly, the original draft of the paper used the phrase “electromagnetic warfare,” but this became “jamming activities” in the final version.24 How exactly they were to implement the monitoring activity remains unclear. The CIA was to oversee the entire operation, but the operational direction was to be with the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA), the interim amalgamation of the three military services’ communications intelligence activities. Yet it was not to utilize AFSA monitoring equipment or personnel. The USCIB was also to oversee the action, because the monitoring would likely pick up communications intelligence in the process. It appears that the problem lay in the fact that this activity was in the realm of electronic intelligence (ELINT), a field that was distinct from communications intelligence (COMINT). The CIA had a much broader curiosity about all forms of COMINT and ELINT than the narrowed ELINT on air defense radar and navigation that interested the Air Force.25 Over the next two years, the Truman administration pursued a middling course in response to the threat of jamming. The additional monitoring program for determining Soviet capabilities called for in NSC 66/1 soon began. The new telecommunications advisor, Haraden Pratt, would handle coordination of this intelligence together with other interconnected domestic and international policy questions involving communications. The directed research into bouncing signals off the atmosphere would move out of the hands of the State Department and over to the Defense Department. The intelligence gathering effort itself appeared to be a main source of trouble. By December 1951, after ten months of effort, the military officers involved were at odds with each other over implementing the monitoring program. The Armed Forces Security Agency Council (overseeing the AFSA) and the Joint Communications-Electronics Committee of the JCS were “unable to evolve satisfactory plans for the implementation of the NSC directive.” CIA and other members of the USCIB decided that they would ask the NSC to remove the operation of the monitoring program from the AFSA and put it under the CIA and State Department’s direct control. CIA personnel would carry it out with equipment from the military.26 This connected to the center of a growing dispute between the military and the CIA/State Department over who would get to control communications intelligence. Indeed, the day before DCI Smith informed the NSC that the military had not been able to put together plans for implementing NSC 66/1, Smith, Acheson, and Secretary of Defense Robert Lovett had established a special committee to review United States communications intelligence activities. The Brownell Committee, headed by New York attorney George A. Brownell but staffed by the CIA and State Department, issued in June 1952 a scathing indictment of the military intelligence’s efficacy overall. It recommended centralizing the communications intelligence functions in a new entity (what would become the National Security Agency) and its realignment under the control of the Secretary of Defense rather than the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On October 24, 1952, Truman approved this transformation, implemented through a revised NSC Intelligence Directive No. 9. Meanwhile, the CIA appears to have remained responsible for the monitoring program, as it covered ELINT, not COMINT.27 The CIA’s pilot monitoring program continued through 1952 and on into 1953, but by mid-1952 Agency officials had recognized the need to expand the monitoring program to obtain still more information.28 Coordination was another apparent problem. It had not been clear whose responsibility this matter, which extended beyond being simply a military problem, was. In October 1951, President Truman appointed Haraden Pratt to the position of telecommunications advisor, as the PCPB had recommended. Pratt was very familiar with the technical and policy questions involved. A senior official with the International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) subsidiary American Cable & Radio, and later its vice president, Pratt had been involved with Vannevar Bush’s Office of Scientific Research and Development during the war. While some of Pratt’s responsibilities had to do with domestic communications policy, he was also involved in national security matters (which has largely escaped historical notice). In early January 1952, Pratt obtained the CIA warning from the previous January regarding electromagnetic warfare. Pratt took it upon himself to grapple with the problems raised. He informed the NSC that by February, he had begun research into “the possible early implementation of a newly discovered method of long-distance radio communications” that had been disclosed in the Troy report. With the danger of electromagnetic warfare in mind, Pratt proposed undertaking a broad study of the nation’s international communications resources and their relationship to national security, as well of electromagnetic warfare in both offensive and defensive forms.29 Another problem was secrecy. The discovery and successful testing of the idea of bouncing radio signals off of the ionosphere and troposphere became public knowledge in 1952. While the fact of this breakthrough was neither surprising nor unexpected for those informed about the field, the governmental involvement and the intended use of this new method were both facts that likely were not supposed to be public. Jack Gould of the New York Times broke the front-page story in advance of the publication by Jerome Wiesner and others of a scholarly article in Physical Review. Gold cast the experiments in terms of secret tests from mystery stations that had led to a substantial breakthrough. Indeed, he went so far as to suggest that in the view of knowledgeable “specialists in international radio,” this development “could have important applications in military communications in the Arctic region, in relaying Voice of America programs to Europe and in carrying press dispatches from abroad.” The scientists involved were specifically identified, and the involved parties mentioned: MIT, the National Bureau of Standards, and the Collins Radio Company. He wrote, “Initial investigations leading to the discovery were made by MIT as part of a project undertaken for the State Department and the ‘Voice of America.’”30 Though the Troy Report was initially classified as TOP SECRET and then subsequently downgraded to SECRET, the information presented in the Physical Review article revealed the distance covered, frequency, power to antenna, antennae used, and other specific details that would permit duplication of the work. If there was an intention to keep this development from the Soviets, the article’s appearance eliminated that possibility.31 What had begun with concern about the effects of Soviet jamming on the Voice of America had expanded into alarm at what the Soviets appeared to be able to do. By 1952, U.S. officials continued to believe based on testing and observations, that the Soviets had the capacity to jam ninety percent of transatlantic radio communications. The remaining ten percent would only get through with systematic jumping among frequencies faster than the Soviets could catch them. These were frightening prospects.32 As the new Eisenhower administration took office in January 1953, unanswered questions about electro-magnetic warfare and the use of radio for propaganda efforts were among the first to come before the new members of the National Security Council. Concern about the power of Soviet jamming, the impact of expanding the VOA transmitter system, and the wider danger of Soviet electromagnetic warfare had led to an impasse among senior officials. In December 1952, Department of Defense officials proposed (in NSC 137) the curtailment of some of the VOA activities and a suspension of new activity until a review of the entire program by the NSC staff. The Department of State responded (in NSC 137/1) that such a review, focused only on the VOA and its curtailment, was a dangerous reduction of a much larger problem involving radio that warranted careful attention. As this was occurring, President Eisenhower asked intelligence advisor William H. Jackson to undertake a review of international information activities, while the NSC staff attempted to find a middle path between State and Defense. In the weeks that followed, Eisenhower administration officials began to separate the issue of Soviet jamming of the Voice of America from the issue of Soviet capabilities to shut down all international HF radio communications. What began as points of connection between these two, including determination of the extent of Soviet capabilities and investigation of potential technical solutions, soon became divergent lines. The larger electro-magnetic warfare line remained largely hidden to historians behind the classification wall. In the months and years that followed, Eisenhower administration officials implemented solutions that in their eyes arrested the danger and provided relief. Because of the collision between State and Defense in the rival NSC 137 papers, senior NSC staff attempted to calm the waters. The staff recognized that the Soviets “have a capability beyond that needed to interdict radio broadcasts. In fact the Soviet[s] could now disrupt a larger part of all existing radio communications of the free world.” Jamming had been experienced not only with international broadcasting but in military signals, radio navigational aids, “civil communications, and on Indian, German, and Danish home broadcasting services.” Mitigation efforts were underway, from installation of FM home broadcasting networks in Germany and Japan to the proposed new transatlantic coaxial telephone cable to the forward scatter system mentioned in the Troy Report. But in order to make the council members appreciate the seriousness of the problem, the staff recommended that the CIA, the Jackson Committee, and the telecommunications advisor each supply their own assessments on the problem and recommended actions.33 The NSC discussed the matter of Soviet jamming at its meeting on February 11, 1953. Special Assistant to the President for National Security Robert Cutler briefed the attendees on the scope of the problem. “We define electromagnetic warfare,” he began, “as the contest through preclusive use, jamming, interference and related measures for the control of all or parts of the radio spectrum or the denial of its use by others. The Soviets have been active in all of these fields.” While he mentioned interference to international broadcasting at first, the bulk of the presentation was on the Soviet capacity to interfere with all forms of international electrical communications. He continued, “Their jamming system has reached a size and proficiency such that today, the Soviets have the capability of completely disrupting our radio circuits used for intercontinental and long range mobile communications, broadcasting and navigation.” An accompanying map illustrated the Soviet position relative to the circuit lines between the United States and strategically important overseas positions (figure 1). Cutler advised the audience that the threat was substantial: seventy-five percent of transatlantic and 100 percent of transpacific military traffic went by radio (compared with only forty percent of transatlantic and eighty-one percent of transpacific commercial traffic). He concluded that “the Soviets have built a very powerful weapon for use against the legitimate communications interests of the rest of the world and I believe they will utilize it whenever they consider it expedient.”34 Figure 1: View largeDownload slide Briefing Map from Cutler presentation to NSC, February 11, 1953, CIA-RDP80R01443R000100030003, CIA CREST. Figure 1: View largeDownload slide Briefing Map from Cutler presentation to NSC, February 11, 1953, CIA-RDP80R01443R000100030003, CIA CREST. Eisenhower made it clear to the others that he considered this a significant issue warranting close attention. He wanted the matter of Soviet jamming investigated carefully. The Project Troy report did not satisfy him, as it appeared to offer no solutions, but he mused that specialists, possibly from MIT, could be brought in. He also asked why there had not been retaliatory jamming by the United States against the Soviets. The NSC divided the problem into three parts. The Jackson committee (the president’s Committee on International Information Activities) was to report on the use of radio for psychological operations. Meanwhile, the CIA was to assess the capabilities and intentions of the Soviets on electromagnetic warfare. Finally, Haraden Pratt, the telecommunications advisor, was to investigate technical solutions to the jamming issue “in the use of radio for the preservation of the national security.” In particular, Eisenhower wanted an examination of U.S. offensive jamming capability, the prospect of overburdening the Soviet jamming effort with expanded broadcasting, the effect of Soviet jamming on their ability to gather communications intelligence about the west, and the “necessity for continued U.S. effort to find technical means for countering Soviet jamming.”35 Jackson’s committee specifically sidestepped the question of electro-magnetic warfare. Still, it warned that while the NSC had been aware of this danger since January 1951, “our capabilities for waging electromagnetic warfare have not changed materially in the two years … while the Soviet position has been steadily growing stronger.” The Jackson Committee “wishes to stress the serious nature of the gap which seems to exist in our defenses.”36 The CIA produced its special estimate over the next several months. The CIA’s Office of National Estimates synthesized a scientific-technical analysis by the Office of Scientific Intelligence and an economic analysis by the Office of Research and Reports (together marked as SE-38). The general conclusion was that it was highly likely the Soviets would use their vast jamming capability in the event of general war, but that they would not use it in peacetime lest they tip their hand.37 “It is believed,” wrote the authors from the Office of Scientific Intelligence, “that general war would be launched with jamming of long range communications circuits as part of the initial surprise, and that there would be little or no communications jamming in advance.” Potentially vulnerable were the military’s trunk long-distance circuits, mobile circuits (including with aircraft and ships), and circuits for navigation.38 Meanwhile, Haraden Pratt, the telecommunications advisor, had expedited his ongoing efforts to deal with the jamming threat. These included the development of the forward scatter radio transmission program utilizing the troposphere and ionosphere, as proposed in the Project Troy report.39 Notably, it was Pratt, rather than the Secretary of Defense, who had become the principal coordinator of the efforts to develop this new method of radio communications and other means to minimize the effects of Soviet jamming. Shaping his perception of the threat was the CIA’s estimate that the Soviets had roughly 1500 to 3000 jammers capable of interfering with transmissions to and from the United States. Thus, “an instrumentality of serious proportions does exist, a considerable part of which is now organized for the purpose of conducting jamming operations capable of being applied against sufficient of our key long-distance communication facilities in the northern hemisphere to justify energetic action towards measures to provide relief.” The need for the United States to “find technical means for overcoming jamming of communication circuits is very important. I consider it to be urgent.” As the next war might start with a surprise attack, possibly atomic, “it would not be unreasonable to expect it to be accompanied by an all-out electromagnetic attack on all vital communication links combined with efforts at sabotage.” Setting aside the trunk HF radio circuits, the existing submarine telegraph cable capacity was inadequate for more than one-third of U.S. military wartime requirements, even if all civilian traffic ceased. No new cables were expected before 1956, and no cable reserve existed across the Pacific. Cables could be cut easily but not repaired quickly. The Department of Defense was aware of the danger and actively working on “new technical methods and instrumentalities.”40 By June, the NSC’s Planning Board staff had digested these three evaluations. With this, they reached six conclusions that they offered to the NSC principals. First, that there be greater efforts by the government and private industry to find new measures for reducing the vulnerability of long-range radio communications to Soviet jamming. Second, that “Project Advancer,” the monitoring program established in NSC 66/1, be expanded further. Third, that use of HF radio for VOA broadcasts be held at present levels. Fourth, that the Department of Defense prepare its own strategic offensive jamming plans. Fifth and sixth, that certain bureaucratic problems relating to management of the radio spectrum be addressed, and that the telecommunications advisor should be responsible for coordinating all of these actions.41 President Eisenhower and the members of the NSC considered these recommendations at the June 9 meeting. Robert Cutler reminded the participants that this had been an ongoing issue for several years. He called upon Allen Dulles to brief them on the CIA special estimate. After discussion of Dulles’s presentation and additional information offered by Pratt, Ralph Clark of the CIA, and a representative of the FCC, the NSC agreed to implement some but not all of the proposed measures. Others would wait until after Pratt’s expected departure from federal service and the reorganization of his duties into the Office of Defense Mobilization. Cutler advised, however, that the NSC approve the two most pressing of the recommendations, numbers one and four: the continued directed technological research into alternate methods of radio communications, and the preparation of strategic offensive jamming plans. This they did. Eisenhower made it clear that secrecy was paramount. In what is in retrospect a clear allusion to the Project Troy revelations, he “again stated his anxiety” that it was important to get those doing the research in this area to understand “that it was vital that their achievements remain secret.” Eisenhower was “little short of aghast at the manner in which scientific developments of vital importance to the national security” had been publicized. These were not off-the-cuff remarks. Ike had raised the issue with Robert Cutler and Everett Gleason the day before. As he told the two, he specifically wanted two outcomes: “that significant scientific developments resulting from research by a military department, which might have primary significance in time of war, should not be publicized,” and that as far as was possible, the discovering department should share it with the others. “Let’s try to surprise the enemy for a change,” he told the gathered members of the NSC. Given that many of the materials on this, including Dulles’s comments at the June 9 NSC meeting, are still classified sixty-two years later, Eisenhower’s instruction carried the day.42 The Planning Board compiled all of these recommendations into a new paper, NSC 169, entitled “Electromagnetic Communications.” This statement of policy offered that the United States would carry out four general areas of activity regarding electromagnetic communications, broadly conceived. These were an increase in monitoring of Soviet activities, efforts to reduce U.S. vulnerabilities to jamming, preparation of offensive electromagnetic warfare plans, and a permanent bureaucratic structure to handle policies and activities involving international broadcasting. The expansion of monitoring had four objectives: to make “realistic appraisals” of U.S. international broadcasting, to determine the jamming capabilities of the Soviets, to determine the target requirements of U.S. jamming efforts, and to provide information to support diplomatic negotiations on the international use of the radio spectrum. In effect, while it did address the need to enhance the effectiveness of the VOA, NSC 169 was about much more than just international broadcasting. It directed continued public and private efforts to ensure continual, uninterrupted transoceanic electrical communications to meet urgent military and governmental requirements. It called for the development of a strategic-level offensive electromagnetic warfare capability. It specified a greatly expanded intelligence gathering effort to determine the full scope of global radio communications in support of multiple activities from diplomatic negotiations to wartime targeting. And it suggested the creation of new mechanisms within the executive branch for oversight and responsibility of these efforts, both in support of the VOA and other efforts. Considered at the 167th meeting of the NSC on October 22, NSC 169 was met with Eisenhower’s approval.43 Over the next year and a half, Eisenhower administration officials implemented the NSC 169 recommendations both to improve the VOA’s broadcasting and to cope with the larger danger of electromagnetic warfare. Reflecting the seriousness of the problem, the CIA established early in 1954 an Electromagnetic Warfare Branch within the Office of Scientific Intelligence, which was also charged with analyzing all data and coordinating efforts across the agency. The CIA’s newly established communications branch operated the radio monitors themselves.44 This effort, the pilot Project Advancer, was to generate the necessary initial data that would inform the creation of the larger Advancer project that the Department of Defense would then run. All of this effort was distinct from the other monitoring effort, Project Earlship, to measure VOA reception behind the Iron Curtain from the U.S. embassies in Moscow, Warsaw, Budapest, and Prague. The pilot program generated what the CIA believed to be significant information. The Soviets were using clusters of transmitters (referred to as nests) in a mix of mobile and fixed locations. The Soviets tended to use three to five jammers per frequency. Soviet monitoring and control of jammers was advanced—they were able to shift to new frequencies rapidly in response to shifts by the broadcasters. “Much work, some requiring more sophisticated techniques, remains to be done before exact locations can be determined and the theory of ‘nests’ can be verified.” After a worldwide count in November 1953, the CIA tallied more than 900 jamming facilities. “The value and utility of the information obtained to date are difficult to assess. However, it may be concluded with certainty that the jamming organization of the USSR is large, flexible and efficient, that the jamming organization is capable of seriously interfering with most if not all of the strategic radio circuits upon which the U.S. must depend in war.”45 By October 1954, the CIA had revised its estimates of Soviet jammers to over 1000, with only seventy specifically located (and some 300 distinctly identified). It identified a new system in East Asia. Based on all of this information, the CIA and Department of Defense decided to turn over Advancer to the latter in early 1955 while the CIA continued to operate a smaller monitoring program “for surveillance of the Soviet jamming system as it may affect essential Defense interests.”46 By December 1955, the Joint Chiefs and the CIA had agreed that the Air Force would henceforth take the lead in gathering electronic intelligence.47 The information collected on Soviet jamming facilities was also important for the development of offensive war plans. By March 1954, the Department of Defense had established an office for analyzing data towards offensive jamming operations, what would likely have included frequencies used, power and probable antennae, times of operation, and precise transmitter locations. The Army-Navy Electronics Evaluation Group, meanwhile, was creating an operating plan for acquiring Soviet navigation transmission information. With the information that it had so far gathered with the CIA’s assistance, the Department of Defense was by 1954 preparing plans for “jamming vital parts of the Soviet Bloc communications system.”48 While the CIA was struggling to understand Soviet jamming capabilities, the newly reestablished Office of Defense Mobilization, under the direction of Dr. Arthur S. Flemming, was reducing vulnerabilities. By early 1954, directed research and experimentation had reached the point where “a pilot transatlantic circuit employing the ionospheric forward scatter technique is feasible and should be established.” ODM and Department of Defense officials believed that while VHF (very-high-frequency) ionosphere scatter transmitters were more reliable and less vulnerable to jamming from fixed transmitters, they might be vulnerable to mobile jammers. UHF (ultra-high-frequency) tropospheric scatter would “probably be the least vulnerable to intentional jamming” but further research was still necessary. Thus, Flemming believed that an operational ionospheric circuit should be established as a test platform. The proposed two-way circuit would run from Newfoundland to Greenland to Iceland to the United Kingdom. A second circuit might run via the Azores.49 By December the interim northern route was operational.50 There were other potential solutions under consideration. Flemming and the ODM were closely following the efforts of AT&T and the British Post Office to lay the first transatlantic coaxial telephone cable (TAT-1), which would be completed in the summer of 1956. Eisenhower administration officials recognized that the existing transatlantic telegraph cable network lacked the capacity to handle more than a small share of expected wartime emergency traffic (as indeed had been made clear in World War II). Moreover, the cables were vulnerable to being cut by enemy naval vessels. Still, the new TAT-1 cable offered a way to exchange data (by teletype) over the voice circuits and thus provide additional transatlantic capacity in a wartime emergency. This was not the only proposed cable. ITT and the Air Force discussed the laying of a cable to serve Air Force requirements, calling the project DEEP FREEZE. Because of the commercial need to make the cable remunerative, as well as the diplomatic objections by the British to this potential competitor to the new TAT-1 cable, delays plagued the ITT cable until the Air Force dropped the plan altogether in the late 1950s. Beyond the cables, research continued into more advanced transmission techniques. These included the possibility of bouncing the signal off of meteors and new methods of spreading the signal to make its reception easier.51 President Eisenhower also encouraged the solution of bureaucratic and organizational problems involving telecommunications and national security. The ODM grappled with one of the most pressing, if mundane, administrative problems, the lack of knowledge about the government’s own use of radio frequencies. The last aggregated master list of frequencies used by the federal government had been compiled by hand in 1928. ODM staff created a machine-readable list in 1954. They then began to match proposed governmental and military frequency requirements in war with the existing list and the available civilian frequencies to resolve the supply and demand problem. Greater use of radio spectrum for air defense (particularly radar) and the forward scatter system was expected to make the congestion worse.52 More substantively, in August President Eisenhower approved the recommendation of Nelson Rockefeller’s President’s Advisory Committee on Government Organization for a cabinet subcommittee to consider the entirety of U.S. communications policy and national defense. Flemming, John Foster Dulles, and Secretary of Defense Wilson were to produce a report within six months outlining the full scope of the problems, objectives, and recommendations (in both organizational changes and legislation) to balance national security and national telecommunications requirements. This was not merely an effort at efficient governance but was, as administration officials recalled in 1958, specifically an effort to address problems posed by the danger of Soviet electro-magnetic warfare.53 It is now clear, in light of these efforts underway since Project Troy in 1951, that President Eisenhower’s fear of surprise attack in the mid-1950s was not limited to the dangers of inadequate intelligence about enemy intentions and preparations, weaknesses in the air defense against Soviet bombers, or the ability to retaliate with intercontinental ballistic missiles. It also encompassed the worry that the Soviets would magnify the effects of their attack, and reduce the ability of the United States to direct a response, in a short or long war, by waging electro-magnetic warfare. This fact helps to explain the inclusion of the oft-overlooked communications section to the Killian Report of March 1955. Unmentioned by Flemming in his progress reports on NSC 169 was the assignment of the technical problems to the newly created Technological Capabilities Panel of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the ODM. In July 1954, Lee DuBridge, the chairman of the SAC, had suggested to President Eisenhower the creation of a special study on the threat of surprise attack. After ruminating on this, Eisenhower asked James Killian, president of MIT, to oversee such a study, a job that Killian accepted in August. The Killian Committee and its report are more widely recognized by scholars for the three major areas of study: intelligence collection, offensive weapons, and defensive weapons. But the inclusion of a telecommunications working group in this study was not accidental. Overseeing this group was Jerome Wiesner, who knew all about the problem and, because MIT was involved in the forward scatter experiments, about the proposed solutions. Assisting Wiesner were scientists from MIT, Bell Laboratories, Lincoln Laboratories, and the CIA. The operating assumption in the Killian Report was that the Soviets would jam everything at the outset of the war. When the Soviets jammed the HF radios and cut the transatlantic cables, the United States would be isolated from the Eastern Hemisphere. Even if the Soviets missed some of the cables in the opening phase of war, traffic volume would grossly exceed cable capacity. Not since the First World War had the United States realistically confronted such a prospect. The complexity of the details challenged those few decision-makers who might personally have remembered the anxieties over communications in 1917 and 1918 as junior officers or young government officials. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Arthur W. Radford, briefed on the issue by Killian, confessed to the NSC that “the matter was much too technical for him” but insisted that “high priority should be given to the development of a military communications system that cannot be jammed.54 The Killian committee members concluded that reducing the nation’s vulnerability was possible with new technical improvements and organizational changes. These were largely revised and improved suggestions that reached back to Project Troy in 1951. The technical solutions included new methods for improving the reception of signals, high-speed burst transmissions, hopping among frequencies, the forward scatter transmission system, new cables, and using artificial satellites as radio relays. By the time the report appeared, an operational forward scatter circuit linked the United States to Greenland, another circuit to Alaska was being tested, and one was being considered between Hawaii and East Asia. Organizationally, the committee recommended identifying a single federal authority for coping with the issue, as well as a pooling of information between military and commercial communications to determine immediately if a full jamming attack was underway.55 Eisenhower and his senior advisors accepted the TCP report at the National Security Council meeting on March 17, 1955.56 By June, the NSC staff had collected comments from multiple departments and agencies on the report and prepared a list of recommendations to be assigned in what became NSC 5522. As Lay informed the members of the NSC, “[o]verseas communications systems less vulnerable to jamming and sabotage are urgently needed. Without them messages containing strategic-warning information may not reach our intelligence centers at a critical time.” Seventeen specific recommendations were made, from securing communications facilities against sabotage to investigation of artificial satellite transmission systems and encouragement of installation of forward-scatter transmission systems.57 The ODM and the Department of Defense shared responsibility for implementing these. The Department of Defense was developing plans for forward scatter systems in East Asia to complement the transatlantic system being established. Flemming informed the NSC that these, together with the planned TAT-1 cable, would “materially reduce the vulnerability from jamming in those areas.”58 Significantly, Jerome Wiesner suggests in his memoir that either his working group or the ODM pressed the otherwise reluctant Bell Laboratories and AT&T to lay additional cables (that is, more than one). Within a decade, three more transatlantic telephone cables run by AT&T were operational. Commercial desire may not have been the only—or primary—motivation for the laying of these cables.59 The U.S. policies for dealing with the threat of electromagnetic warfare were therefore largely outlined in NSC 169 and NSC 5522. The former addressed the need and mechanism to determine the scope of the threat, so as to prepare offensive plans, gauge the likely effectiveness of defensive plans, improve the VOA broadcasting ability, and strengthen U.S. diplomatic positions at international conferences involving communications. Meanwhile, the latter identified the paths for defensive measures against electromagnetic warfare, or more specifically, against the danger of informational isolation and the ability to wage global warfare in the face of Soviet attacks on the HF radio networks. There was also a third, unsuccessful component: the development of a coherent national policy on telecommunications at the cabinet level. The aim was to reconcile growing domestic telecommunications problems (including demand for radio spectrum and mergers of communications companies) with the vulnerabilities to electromagnetic warfare and disruption of the nation’s communications in wartime. Despite the recognition of these problems, the committee tasked with considering it could not resolve who was supposed to take charge of the issue.60 Thus, the NSC’s actions remained the sole solid attempts to craft solutions to the problem of electromagnetic warfare. In the years that followed the Killian Report and NSC 5522, the fear among U.S. officials about electromagnetic warfare at the global strategic level diminished but did not disappear. That change occurred not because of a reevaluation that the threat was not important. It occurred because the means now existed to mitigate the threat while the expanded nuclear arsenals made a long general war (and therefore sustained wartime jamming) much less likely. Though the Department of Defense remained apprehensive that more VOA transmitters might spur the Soviets to expand their jamming capability, Eisenhower insisted to the NSC in a sign of confidence rather than dismissal that the fear should not be a reason to avoid expanding the VOA.61 Even as late as August 1958, Allen Dulles informed the cabinet that the Soviets had between two and three thousand centrally controlled jamming transmitters. He stated, “This is far more than they need to jam the VOA which leads us to the conclusion that they could and probably would jam our military circuits in time of emergency … [when] a great number of our circuits would be out of commission in Europe and possibly in Asia.”62 In the face of such a threat, however, the situation had now changed. As of March 1956, Defense Secretary Wilson could tell the NSC that the United States military had available to it some 750 worldwide radio and submarine cable circuits, with an additional 250 circuits that it could seize in wartime.63 Included in that number were the initial circuits of the North Atlantic forward scatter system reaching to Greenland. When the TAT-1 cable became operational in September 1956, this alone provided more than thirty additional telephone circuits. If the telephone circuits were reconfigured to carry teletype traffic in wartime, the military would have at a minimum a robust direct connection to the United Kingdom despite any jamming of HF radio. By the end of the decade the experimental forward scatter system had completely crossed the Atlantic from Maine to the United Kingdom. In the early 1960s, the U.S. military would replace this with an improved system bouncing the signal off of the troposphere. Subsequently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed several networks across Europe, the Mediterranean, and North Africa. Gradually, as satellite-based systems became available in the late 1960s, the tropospheric scatter systems became less and less important.64 As each new circuit came online, the prospect of total electromagnetic isolation diminished further. Thus, the efforts to ensure a continual, reliable, and robust global network, through directed technological research and the encouragement of private enterprise, ultimately provided the reassurance that a Soviet electromagnetic war would not result in the isolation of the United States from its allies and forces abroad in times of crisis. Because this account draws largely from high-level government documents that are anchored largely on the assessments of the intelligence community about something that they could detect but not directly observe, some skepticism about the real extent of this danger is warranted. Indeed, it bears asking: in the end, was there any truth to these fears? Western scholars have very limited information, but there is evidence the Soviets had been conducting electromagnetic warfare (what they termed “radio-electric warfare”) since World War II. Much of the attention appears to have been at the theater (or operational) level of war and below. Still, it is possible that this only reflects what U.S. intelligence sources, which obtained and translated what little is known, were able to acquire, or, more importantly, what scholars have been allowed to see of what intelligence sources were able to acquire.65 This account reveals an important new aspect of the interconnection between international security, science and technology, and the Cold War. Even though scientific and technological developments (in the form of global HF radio) had enhanced the worldwide power of the United States, new and unexpected vulnerabilities in this area necessitated still more scientific and technological developments to mitigate those dangers. At the same time, the national security concerns were indivisible from significant domestic civilian concerns relating to radio spectrum allocation, mergers of telecommunication companies, and the power of the state over civilian communications in peacetime. In addition, the danger of electromagnetic warfare challenged the traditional definitions of weaponry, intelligence, and the responsibility for making war. Was jamming on this scale, in fact, warfare? This story also shows scholars how deep and difficult the problems posed by the threat of electromagnetic warfare were for the national security bureaucracy. Attempts to address these problems required a level of interaction between the military, diplomatic, and intelligence communities for which they were not prepared and that only the NSC could oversee. Even then, the matter was so complex that even the senior officials themselves acknowledged that it required presidential intervention and the emplacement of a technical advisor at the president’s side. This was a case of short-term bureaucratic success, where scientists and administration officials effectively identified a national security problem and solved it through the mechanism of the NSC within a relatively short period of time. But it was also a long-term bureaucratic failure because the complex interconnected issues identified at the time by the participants about synthesizing federal defense requirements with civilian capabilities, making more efficient use of the radio spectrum, and balancing the desire for efficiency against the traditions of antimonopoly and plurality proved insurmountable. It was possible to build additional communications facilities for the Department of Defense. It was not possible to agree on whether there should be someone in the cabinet who would handle the problem of electromagnetic warfare and who that person should be. The secrecy surrounding the problem hindered public discussion of possible solutions. Neither the Truman nor Eisenhower administrations could figure out how best to balance these weights in the absence of clear authority for dealing with the dual-use technology in war, peace, or somewhere in between such as the Cold War. Indeed, in 1953 NSC officials lamented that “the relative importance of this whole field of activity” was not clear. They were unsure “whether a new agency is required, a new PSB-type Board, a new bureau in an old-line department like Commerce, or a staff in the Executive Office of the President. The Bureau [of the Budget] apparently needs guidance as to whether it might be raising a technical function too high, or not raising an extremely important function high enough.”66 The account presented here prompts important new questions about the early Cold War. For example, to what extent did the perceived danger of a Soviet first strike in electromagnetic warfare shape the United States’ fear of a “wasting asset” in their nuclear weapons, or the consequences of a conventional offensive in Europe? In light of the fact that a near-total disruption of global HF radio would have made it extremely difficult to impossible for U.S. officials to direct retaliation by U.S. forces or communicate with allies, did this assumption make certain military strategies more favorable than others? How did the directed technological research for defense purposes influence civilian use of these new technologies—did secrecy accelerate or retard commercial exploitation? Did certain technological requirements—stations for the forward scatter or the landing of cables—affect the diplomatic relations among allies who were also commercial competitors? Did some otherwise marginal countries become more important because of a need to install these systems? How do exogenous diplomatic problems, such as the gold-dollar imbalance of the late 1950s, shape the technological choices about the construction of this system? In the early years of the Cold War, U.S. officials identified a threat that has been nearly invisible to scholars. Though it emerged from the concern about the Soviet jamming of the Voice of America, the efforts to deal with that Soviet jamming turned into a much larger activity. The complexity of the subject, the close involvement of the intelligence community, the high level of classification, and the apparent diminution of the threat all combined to let the story elude scholars. But it is clear that as a result of efforts taken from 1953 to 1955, in response to problems identified from 1950 to 1952, U.S. officials became more confident that the United States would survive an electro-magnetic first strike, and that it would be able to communicate with the rest of the world to exchange critical information with U.S. forces abroad in peace but especially in war. A robust mix of public and private circuits would make this possible. But the dual roles of these communications technologies, important in war, peace, and the blurry time in between, raised challenging questions about the proper place in the executive branch for the careful coordination of the national requirements, capabilities, desires, and traditions in this area. The directed technological research into potential solutions to the threat of electro-magnetic warfare echoes similar attempts both in the Cold War and earlier, from the U2 to the Manhattan project. Yet this particular story has remained largely untold. The relationship between communication technology and national security in the twentieth century is complex and little understood, but has direct bearing on the present day. In our own time, where fears of cyberwarfare, electronic espionage, and information disruption confront officials, the revelation of this previously overlooked story can help us to ask new questions about the past, the answers to which can better inform our own understanding about the present. Footnotes 1 One of the very few public uses of this phrase came in Congressional testimony by Foy Kohler. See Third Supplemental Appropriation Bill for 1951: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, 82nd Congress, 1st Session, vols. 1–2 (Washington, DC, 1951), 286. 2 Briefing notes, “Soviet Capability for Waging Electromagnetic Warfare,” February 11, 1953, CIA-RDP80R01443R000100220012-5, CIA CREST database (hereafter CIA CREST), National Archives and Records Administration (hereafter USNA); Appendix 2, NSC 137, cited in Appendix II, Jackson Report (Report of President’s Committee on International Information Activities), June 30, 1953, Special Collection, “Intelligence, Policy and Politics: The DCI, the White House, and Congress,” doc. 5166d49399326091c6a60500, CIA FOIA Electronic Reading Room, 111–13. These pages have not been released in previous versions of this report. 3 On communications technology, diplomacy, and national security considerations, Daniel Headrick, The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics, 1851–1945 (New York, 1991); Jonathan Reed Winkler, Nexus: Strategic Communications and American Security in World War I (Cambridge, MA, 2008); Bernard Finn and Daqing Yang, Communications Under the Sea (Cambridge, MA, 2009). 4 Secretary of State to Embassy Moscow, August 3, 1949, Foreign Relations of the United States (hereafter FRUS), 1949, vol. V, Eastern Europe; Soviet Union, ed. William Z. Slany (Washington, DC, 1976), doc. 369. 5 Acheson to Lay, April 3, 1950, with attached memorandum, Communications, 1950–1952, box 20, Disaster File Series, National Security Council Staff: Papers, 1948–1961 (hereafter NSCSP), White House Office (hereafter WHO), Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library (hereafter DDEL). 6 NSC 66, “Support for the Voice of America in the Fields of Intelligence and of Research and Development,” FRUS, 1950, vol. IV, Central and Eastern Europe; The Soviet Union, ed. William Z. Slany, Charles S. Sampson, and Rogers P. Churchill (Washington, DC, 1980), doc. 140. 7 Truman to Lay, May 10, 1950, Communications, 1950–1952, box 20, Disaster File Series, NSCSP, WHO, DDEL. 8 Report of the IAC Ad Hoc Committee on Soviet Jamming of the Voice of America, June 2, 1950, RDP80-01446R000100130002, CIA CREST. 9 Memorandum by Director of Central Intelligence Walter Bedell Smith, and Tab A, January 25, 1951, enclosed in Lay for National Security Council, January 26, 1951, Memoranda for the National Security Council, box 170, National Security Council File, Subject File, President’s Secretary’s File, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library (hereafter HSTL). The existence of this recommendation, and a partial copy of it, appeared publicly in Thomas E. Will, Telecommunications Structure and Management in the Executive Branch of Government, 1900–1970 (Boulder, CO, 1978), 30–31. Tab A by Clark has only recently been declassified. 10 Ralph Clark, Deputy Assistant Director, Scientific Intelligence, to Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, January 18, 1951, RDP80R01731R000800060052-5, CIA CREST. 11 Tab A, January 25, 1951, enclosed in Lay for National Security Council, January 26, 1951, Memoranda for the National Security Council, box 170, National Security Council File, Subject File, President’s Secretary’s File, HSTL. 12 Ibid. 13 On the scientific aspects of the Project Troy report, Allan A. Needell, “‘Truth is our Weapon’: Project TROY, Political Warfare, and Government-Academic Relations in the National Security State,” Diplomatic History 17, no. 3 (July 1993): 399–420, esp. 410 and 417; Needell’s, Science, Cold War, and the American State: Lloyd V. Berkner and the Balance of Professional Ideals (Amsterdam, 2000). 14 “Project Troy Report to the Secretary of State” (Hereafter Troy Report), vol. 1, p. 24, February 1, 1951, INR Historical Files, lot 58D 776, Record Group 59, USNA. Emphasis in original. Each annex is separately paginated. 15 “Troy Report,” vol. 4, annex 22, 1. 16 “Troy Report,” vol. 1, 25. 17 H. G. Booker and W. E. Gordon, “A Theory of Radio Scattering in the Troposphere,” Proceedings of the IRE 38, no. 4 (1950): 401–12. 18 Troy Report, Annex 22, 3–5; Needell, Science, Cold War, and the American State, 168; Interview of Dr. William Gordon by Andrew Butrica, November 28, 1994, Niels Bohr Library and Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD, accessed January 1, 2015, http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/22789.html. The official history of the National Bureau of Standards makes no mention of this secret work. See Rexmond C. Cochrane, Measures for Progress: A History of the National Bureau of Standards (Washington, DC, 1966). 19 Established by Executive Order 10110, on February 17, 1950. The board’s five members were Killian, Irvin Stewart, William L. Everitt, Lee A. DuBridge, and David H. O’Brien. Stewart had been executive officer of the Office of Research and Scientific Development; Everitt was an electrical engineer. DuBridge directed the MIT Radar Lab during World War II. The report, “Telecommunications: A Program for Progress,” is reprinted in J. M. Kittross, Documents in American Telecommunications Policy, vol. 2 (New York, 1977). 20 “Telecommunications: A Program for Progress,” 237–38, 269–70. 21 “Telecommunications: A Program for Progress,” 238. 22 Ralph Clark to Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, January 18, 1951, RDP80R01731R000800060052-5, CIA CREST. 23 On the nuclear advantage as a wasting asset, Marc Trachtenberg, History and Strategy (Princeton, NJ, 1991), 100–52. 24 Proposed revision to “Intelligence Support,” attached to Memorandum by Acting Secretary, Intelligence Advisory Committee, January 3, 1951, RDP82-00400R000200030020, CIA CREST. 25 NSC 66/1, “Intelligence Support for the Voice of America with regard to Soviet Jamming,” Memorandum from Acting Director of Central Intelligence Jackson to Lay, January 18, 1951, FRUS, 1950–1955, The Intelligence Community, 1950–1955, ed. Douglas Keane and Michael Warner (Washington, DC, 2007), doc. 44. See also redacted copy of enclosures in Paul Kesaris, ed., Documents of the National Security Council, 3rd supplement (Frederick, MD, 1985), reel 1. 26 Walter B. Smith to Lay, December 29, 1951, enclosed in Lay to National Security Council, January 2, 1952, Communications, 1950–1952, box 20, Disaster File Series, NSCSP, WHO, DDEL. 27 Thomas L. Burns, The Quest for Cryptologic Centralization and the Establishment of NSA: 1940–1952, United States Cryptologic History, Series V: The Early Postwar Period, vol. 4 (Fort Meade, MD, 2005), chp. 6. Jeffrey T. Richelson notes the ELINT role for the CIA, but does not mention electromagnetic warfare: Richelson, The Wizards of Langley (Boulder, CO, 2002), 31–33. 28 Draft report on Foreign Intelligence Program from DCI to National Security Council, contained in James Q. Reber to Intelligence Advisory Committee, July 28, 1952, doc. 50dde104993247d4d839234d, Special Collection “Creating Global Intelligence,” CIA FOIA Electronic Reading Room. 29 Pratt to Lay, February 25, 1952, and Lay to NSC, February 26, 1952, Communications, 1950–1952, box 20, Disaster File Series, NSCSP, WHO, DDEL. 30 Jack Gould, “New Radio Signal Method Opens Door to Global Video,” New York Times, April 20, 1952, 1. 31 D. K. Bailey, R. Bateman, L. V. Berkner, H. G. Booker, G. F. Montgomery, E. M. Purcell, W. W. Salisbury, and J. B. Weisner, “A New Kind of Radio Propagation at Very High Frequencies Observable Over Long Distances,” Physical Review 86, no. 141 (April 1952): 141–95. Bailey, of the NBS, Berkner, Purcell, Salisbury, and Wiesner (that is, five of the eight authors) were members of Project TROY, while Booker (the sixth) had been brought in as the outside expert. 32 Memorandum for Dr. Craig, May 23, 1952, folder “Liaison with Telecommunications Policy Committee,” box 37, Psychological Strategy Board Files, Staff Member and Office Files, Presidential Papers, HSTL. 33 Lay to NSC, February 5, 1953, Communications, 1953(1), box 20, Disaster File Series, NSCSP, WHO, DDEL. 34 Briefing notes, “Soviet Capability for Waging Electromagnetic Warfare,” February 11, 1953, CIA-RDP80R01443R000100220012-5, CIA CREST. 35 Minutes of discussion at 131st meeting of the National Security Council, February 11, 1953, dated February 12, 1953, 131st meeting of NSC, February 11, 1953, box 4, NSC Series, Whitman File, DDEL. 36 William H. Jackson, Chairman, President’s Committee on International Information Activities, to Lay, March 24, 1953, enclosed in Lay for National Security Council, March 26, 1953, NSC 137/1, box 3, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, Office of Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (hereafter OSANSA), WHO, DDEL. 37 “Soviet Orbit Capabilities and Intentions for Electromagnetic Warfare (below 30Mcs.),” EIC-R-12, March 24, 1953, RDP92B01090R000300020038-2, CIA CREST. 38 Paragraph 35, Appendix B: Evaluation of Technical Factors, SE-38, n.d., RDP79S-1-11A000900020011, CIA CREST. While both appendices are available, the covering estimate itself is not. 39 Pratt to Lay, April 15, 1953, enclosed in Lay to NSC, April 21, 1953, President’s Papers 1953 (6), box 1, Presidential Subseries, Special Assistant Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL; on the implementation of the forward scatter system, Telecommunications Planning Program released on January 7, 1953, folder Communications, 1950–1952, box 20, Disaster File Series, NSCSP, WHO, DDEL. 40 Pratt to Lay, May 12, 1953, enclosed in Lay for National Security Council, May 13, 1953, NSC 137/1, box 3, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. 41 Lay to NSC, 2 June 1953, NSC 169(4), box 7, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. 42 Discussion at the 149th meeting of the National Security Council, June 9, 1953, dated June 11, 1953 and Memorandum by Cutler, June 8, 1953, 149th meeting 9 June 1953, box 4, NSC Series, Whitman File, DDEL. 43 Memorandum by Lay for NSC, October 9, 1953, folder NSC 169 (4), box 7, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL; Discussion at the 167th meeting of the National Security Council, October 11, 1953, 167th meeting October 11, 1953, box 4, NSC Series, Whitman File, DDEL. 44 Chief, Management Staff, to Deputy Director (Administration) July 13, 1954, RDP78-03568A000900140030-4, CIA CREST; Memo by Deputy Director (Intelligence), Deputy Director (Plans), and Assistant Director for Communications, January 7, 1954, RPD78-01634R000300060066, CIA CREST; Interoffice Telecommunications Advisory Committee Charter, February 26, 1954, RDP78-01634R000300060017-5, CIA CREST. 45 Arthur S. Flemming, Director, ODM, to Lay, March 1, 1954, Top Secret, NSC 169 (4), box 7, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. 46 Flemming to Lay, enclosing Progress Report on NSC 169 with attachments, partly redacted, Communications, 1954 (2), box 20, Disaster File, NSCSP, WHO, DDEL. 47 Wilson to Lay, with appendix, December 22, 1955, NSC 169(1), box 7, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. 48 Arthur S. Flemming, Director, ODM, to Lay, March 1, 1954, Top Secret, NSC 169 (4), box 7, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. 49 Flemming to Lay, March 1, 1954; and Flemming to Lay, enclosing Progress Report on NSC 169 with attachments, partly redacted, Communications, 1954 (2), box 20, Disaster File, NSCSP, White House Office, DDEL. 50 “Technical Aspects of International Broadcasting,” Annex C of “Effectiveness of U.S. international Broadcasting,” December 15, 1954, Communications 1955(1), box 21, Disaster File, NSCSP, WHO, DDEL. 51 Improved reception through signal spreading involved the Noise Modulation and Correlation (NOMAC) technique developed at MIT in the early 1950s but classified until the early 1960s. See David Walnut, Götz E. Pfander, and Thomas Kailath, “Cornerstones of Sampling of Operator Theory,” arXiv:1502.03451 [cs.IT], (Submitted February 11, 2015), https://arxiv.org/abs/1502.03451v1. 52 Arthur S. Flemming, Director, ODM, to Lay, March 1, 1954, Top Secret, NSC 169 (4), box 7, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. 53 “Telecommunications Policy and Organization,” Memorandum for President Eisenhower by Nelson Rockefeller, President’s Advisory Committee on Government Organization, August 9, 1954, box 11, Subject Series, Confidential File, White House Central Files, DDEL; Memorandum for Adams from Gray, August 11, 1958, Cabinet Meeting August 15, 1958, box 12, Cabinet Series, Whitman File, DDEL. 54 Memorandum of Discussion of 235th Meeting of the NSC, February 3, 1955, 235th meeting, box 6, NSC Series, Whitman File, DDEL. 55 Technological Capabilities Panel report, box 16, Alphabetical Subseries, Subject Series, Office of the Staff Secretary, WHO, DDEL. 56 Memorandum of Discussion of 241st Meeting of the NSC, March 17, 1955, 241st Meeting, box 6, NSC Series, Whitman File, DDEL. 57 Lay to NSC, Comments on the Report to the President [by the Killian Committee], June 8, 1955, NSC 5522(2), box 16, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. 58 Director, Office of Defense Mobilization, to Lay, 7 July 1955, NSC 5522(2), box 16, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, WHO-OSANSA, DDEL. 59 Rosenblith, ed., Jerry Wiesner, 237. These are TAT-2, TAT-3, and TAT-4. 60 The staff director for the special committee that considered these problems was the CIA’s Ralph Clark. See “Paper for Discussion with President,” Presidential Advisory Committee on Telecommunications Policy and Organization, June 3, 1955, Telecommunications (2), box 11, Cabinet Secretariat, WHO, DDEL. 61 Transcript of 246th Meeting of the National Security Council, April 29, 1955, 246th Meeting April 28, 1955, box 6, NSC Series, Whitman File, DDEL. 62 Transcript of discussion, Telecommunications, Cabinet Meeting 15 August 1958, in Cabinet Meeting 15 August 1958, box 12, Cabinet Series, Whitman File, DDEL. 63 Wilson to Lay, 24 March 1956, enclosed in Lay to NSC, 27 March 1956, NSC 169(1), box 7, Policy Papers Subseries, NSC Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. 64 Robert P. Grathwol and Donita M. Moorhus, Bricks, Sand, and Marble: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Mediterranean and Middle East, 1947–1991 (Washington, DC, 2010), 225–27. Some official and relevant histories have been declassified. See Thomas A. Sturm, The Air Force Command and Control System, 1950–1966 (Washington, DC, 1967). 65 Among the (few) primary sources available is “USSR General Staff Academy Lectures: Electronic Warfare in Offensive Operations,” March 19, 1969, enclosed in Wells (DD/O) for DCI, December 3, 1976, doc. 0001197490, Soviet and Warsaw Pact Military Journals collection, CIA FOIA Electronic Reading Room; V. D. Sokolovskiy, ed., Voyennaya Strategiya, 2nd ed. (Moscow, 1963), 337–38; David R. Beachley, “Soviet Radio-Electronic Combat in World War II,” Military Review 61 (March 1981): 66–72. 66 Memorandum for Lay, April 3, 1953, folder Science & Research – General (1) [March-April 1953], box 7, Subject Subseries, Special Assistant Series, OSANSA, WHO, DDEL. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. All rights reserved. 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Diplomatic History – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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