Operation Giant Lance

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Operation "Giant Lance"
Part of the Cold War
DateOctober 10–30, 1969
LocationOver Arctic Ocean
Result Inconclusive
Belligerents
 United States  Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
United States Richard Nixon Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev

Operation Giant Lance was a secret military operation by the United States that simulated a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union during the Cold War.[1] On October 10, 1969, on the advice of National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, U.S. President Richard Nixon issued the order.

Preparations were made to send a squadron of 18 B-52s of the 92d Strategic Aerospace Wing loaded with nuclear weapons to fly toward the Soviet Union. It was hoped that this would convince the Soviets that Nixon was willing to resort to nuclear war in order to win the Vietnam War. The squadron took off on October 27 and flew towards the Soviet Union.[2] Actions were designed to be detectable by the Soviets.[3] Nixon cancelled the operation on October 30.[1]

The plan was part of Nixon's madman theory,[3] a concept based on game theory,[1] and its details remained unknown to the public until Freedom of Information Act requests in the 2000s revealed documents about the operation.[4]

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Further reading[edit]

  • "Nixon's Secret Nuclear Alert: Vietnam War Diplomacy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Readiness Test, October 1969," Cold War History, January 2003.

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