The National Security Council convened in the Situation Room shortly after midnight on 23 July, 1987. Despite the hour, President Reagan appeared quite fresh and well-rested. The chief executive of the United States had been under enormous pressure over the past two weeks. The fate of the world was quite literally on his shoulders. Though he undoubtedly felt the strain, he did not let it show in his appearance, body language, or voice. An amazing feat for a seventy-six year old man by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is fair to say that Ronald Reagan was by no means an ordinary man.
Vice President George Bush was not physically present at the meeting but connected through a secure communications linkup. Bush was at Mount Weather, one of the primary relocation sites for the US government in the event of a national emergency. The facility was situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains fifty-one miles west of Washington. Keeping the Vice at Mount Weather was a hedge against a Soviet decapitation attack on the national capital. The other NSC principals were all there in the sub-surface conference room that morning along with a number of aides and deputies who were seated in less-than-comfortable chairs against the wall.
The meeting came to order and National Security Advisor Frank Carlucci briefly introduced the topic of discussion. Next, a US Navy captain from the J-3 spent fifteen minutes explaining the pattern of Soviet ballistic missile submarine movements over the past seventy-two hours. He was replaced at the lectern by a US Air Force Colonel from the Strategic Air Command who summarized in respectable detail how the SSBN activity affected the overall strategic picture at the present time.
“Mr.President,” Carlucci stated at the end of the briefing. “We need to decide on a response to the Russian missile subs leaving port. And perhaps even more importantly, a decision will have to be reached on whether to begin offensive attacks against those submarines later today.”
Author’s Note: Extremely short post and I apologize. The day got away from me between work, and a surprise doctor’s appointment. I’ll post the concluding piece on Sunday and then jump right into the next theater on Monday. That will most likely be the North Atlantic. –Mike