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News | Feb. 6, 2015

DIA’s TV broadcast on Soviet missiles in Cuba

By DIA History Office

John Hughes, Special Assistant to Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Carroll, delivered a nationally televised briefing on the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba, Feb. 6, 1963.

After the prospect of imminent nuclear war was resolved through negotiations during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, DIA provided finished intelligence to the Joint Chiefs to confirm that the Soviets were indeed dismantling and crating the missiles. Concerns remained in Congress, however, that the Soviets might seek to leave some of their arsenal on the island. On the morning of Feb. 6, 1963, Hughes presented a classified briefing to the House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations reassuring them that all offensive bombers and missiles had been withdrawn. The briefing was so effective that President John F. Kennedy decided the photographic evidence should be declassified and shared with the American public.

Later that day, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Hughes took the stage at the State Department’s auditorium for a nationally televised presentation. Standing in front of a massive projection screen, the thirty-four-year-old Hughes provided a briefing that included photos, charts and tables clearly documenting the discovery of Soviet ballistic missiles, their assembly and operational readiness, and their dismantlement and removal from the island. Following the presentation, President Kennedy sent Hughes a personal letter congratulating him on the successful briefing.

DIA uses all-source defense intelligence to prevent strategic surprise and deliver a decision advantage to war fighters, defense planners and policymakers. The agency collects and analyzes key data using a variety of tools, and deploys its personnel globally, alongside war fighters and interagency partners, to defend America’s national security interests.