The First Time I Saved Us All

The first time I saved us all was when I was a teenager.

The Reagan administration was promoting an idea for deployment of 100 ICBM’s (the new MX missile, each having 10 MIRVs) in a 10 square mile geographical distribution popularly known as Dense Pack. The plan was based on the theory of fractricide.

The theory of fratricide claimed that during any Soviet “first strike” attempting to destroy US ICBMs in their silos, the explosions from the first two or three incoming Soviet warheads would also destroy any other incoming Soviet warheads, and thus no more than 3 US ICBMs would be destroyed; whereas, all of the incoming Soviet warheads would be destroyed.

I sent a letter to Caspar Weinberger, Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, explaining that even if their theory were correct, the Soviets could simply send one or two missiles at a time, and the US would not be able to launch immediately after the first Soviet warhead landed because the next incoming warhead might be set to go off in the atmosphere where our missiles would still be in a tight group but far more vulnerable outside of their silos, and thus the second Soviet warhead might destroy many of our MX missiles and send the rest crashing down over the US and Canada.

I explained that the Soviets could also send dummy warheads, and thereby hold our missiles at bay for days.

Before I sent that letter, Dense Pack was frequently in the news, but three weeks after I sent it, I never heard another mention of Dense Pack ever again.