Back Channel The Kennedy Years
Inside the John F. Kennedy White House

What does 'DEFCON' mean?

Find out what DEFCON means. DEFCON is explained by William Bertram MacFarland - author of Back Channel The Kennedy Years


The defense readiness condition system used by the U.S. Armed Forces. It ranges from level 5 – normal readiness – to level 1 – maximum readiness for imminent nuclear war.

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"...Dominic I/Checkmate tests with a low kiloton but high altitude (147 kilometers) nuclear test over Johnston Island. On Sunday, October 21, Kennedy decided on a naval blockade of Cuba and the next day announced his plan to the American public. The U.S. military alert is set to DEFCON 3. (The Defense Readiness Condition ‘DEFCON’ ranges from DEFCON 5 – the lowest state of readiness – to DEFCON 1 – preparation for likely war. DEFCON 3 is defined as “Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness”.) It is quite significant however. ..."
"...On Thursday, October 25, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, confronted the Soviets at the United Nations but they refused to answer him. Air Force Chief Of Staff General Curtis Lemay raised the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) readiness level to DEFCON-2, the highest in U.S. history.2 The risk of nuclear war was also the highest in the history of the U.S., and indeed, the world. After consulting with the President, I sent the Generals a message stating that I believed that the United States would agree to an ..."

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"Non-fiction/Memoir Back Channel: Book One: The Kennedy Years William Bertram MacFarland 2011 Create Space 284 pages In book one of his memoirs, Back Channel: The Kennedy..."

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