Gaither Report

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The Gaither committee, named after its first chairman H. Rowan Gaither, was tasked by President Eisenhower with creating a strategy that would strengthen the US military defensive systems and better prepare the US for a nuclear attack. The result was the Gaither Report, a document that detailed the inadequacies of US technology,[1] among other things, and called for an urgent strengthening of US missile technology and US offensive and defensive military capabilities.[2] The report also called for a fifty percent increase in US military spending and a redesign of the US Defense Department.[3] The committee presented the Gaither Report to President Eisenhower on November 7, 1957.

While the president had asked for an evaluation of fallout and blast shelters, the opening page of the report stated that their purpose was to “form a broadbrush opinion of the relative value of various active and passive measures to protect the civilian populations in case of nuclear attack and its aftermath.” This look at active protective measures relegated shelters to a secondary position in a report now concentrated on nuclear deterrence. The rationale for this can be found in their assumption that the Soviet Union, with its expedient development of military technology, had already exceeded the technical achievements made by the U.S. in ICBM research.