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Nukes Over Brooklyn

On June 15, 1955, NYC shut down

On June 15, 1955, just before 7 am local time, New York City did something it rarely does. It shut down.

The reason was a simulated Soviet nuclear attack on Brooklyn, code-named Apple Jack. This "attack" took place in North Williamsburg, my long-time home neighborhood, in a spot that is now occupied by luxury condos and hipster stores.

"The aim was to ensure that if the Russians fired a nuclear strike 'someone in America would be able to launch from the ashes a devastating retaliatory blow against the Soviet Union"

Apple Jack closed the stock market, mobilized 22,000 civil defense volunteers, and triggered defense protocols all over the country.

In what I hope was a planned irony, the Soviet Foreign Minister was in New York City as Apple Jack commenced. I wonder if he knew it was a drill.

Apple Jack was a defensive maneuver that complemented Operation Teapot, a series of fourteen offensive nuclear tests throughout 1955.

The Cold War was an existential period with unique challenges, but as exemplified by Apple Jack and Teapot, America's core strategic question - often not answered - was how whole-of-society would deal with a nuclear strike.

Strategic planning and action were not limited to government. ATT worked closely with the federal government to deliver much-needed communication infrastructure from sea to shining sea.

Universities contributed mightily to critical technical and strategic research and development.

The whole-of-society enterprise is different — worse — today.

Google doesn't want to work with the US military. No one knows how exposed we will be to 5G exploitation. Private companies are starting to "hack back" to deter cyber attacks.

All while the federal government pretends to function.

If the Cold War was a two-dimensional contest to reduce nuclear risk and advance strategic capabilities, 2019 is a multi-dimensional chess match. Winning requires smart collaboration between public and private entities with misaligned incentives, cultural differences, and anything-but-strategic decision-making.

Apple Jack was a response to a missile. Apple Jack 2.0 will target our smartphone society.