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I saw this on a channel that I watch from time to time. It covers American Civil Defense policy during the Cold War. Much of it might already be known by members of this board, but some may be new too. The vintage footage was neat to watch.

Tangentially, the Blue Book the presenter mentioned (the CD one, not UFOs) appears to be now in PDF format and on the Intratubes here.

Anyway, just passing it along. .
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Lived through some of the Hot side of this, constant alerts out of Minot, Homestead, and other places, seeing Blue Code B-52s B-1s and B-2s, and white tips loaded aboard F-111Fs, standing alerts all over the place and standing orders to disperse to remote sites to stand by and await further orders! Heady times, nothing I want to ever relive! Still, we had things in hand, if the Russians ever decided they wanted to play chicken, we had their addresses! We used to joke that Yeltsin or Gorbachev would ask if today was the day, and they would call the U.S.A.F. and ask, the answer was always no!


The rise of US preppers can be traced to the loss of legitimacy of civil defense. "The Cold War" wasn't static in the public mind. It went through phases; CD was really only a thing in the first fifteen years if that. Futility of action in the face of nukes (talked about only a bit in the video), was accepted by the 60s. By the late 60s CD was basically non-existent regarding nuclear war, though the bureaucracy kept getting funded.

Interesting note:

...Portland voters refused to fund the program further, and on May 21, 1963, the City Council eliminated Portland’s CD program. The CD program had lost the support of the majority of City Council, led by Commissioner Stanley Earl, who argued that the new hydrogen bomb made such preparations meaningless and gave Portland’s citizens false hope. On July 1, 1963, Portland became the first city to disaffiliate with the national Civil Defense Program.

By non-existent I mean the most important part was missing: public participation. CD depends on an active citizenry, and a critical mass of individuals who know the what/when/where of the plan and who will use that knowledge for their community. Even if it existed in the 50s (which I was too young to experience, so frankly don't know) it was gone by the late 60s.

The 70s saw the rise of "survivalists;" people who rejected "it's all futile" and thought that they could, individually or by creating a community, survive. I lived for a very short time with such folks in the Rouge River Valley in the mid-70s.

Over the decades survivalism has morphed into prepping, pushed along by folks looking to make money. CD is actually a much better way to survive any apocalyptic event. For that tho you need a united community who doesn't see action as futile.

All this IMO of course.
CERT is the modern equivalent of Civil Defense, but on a smaller scale. I've let them do drills on my property, and they have adequate supplies and training to do some good. A major incident would overwhelm their resources, and the volunteers would probably be too busy trying to cope on a personal level to muster for CERT activites.

My experience as a child in the 1950's was the "hide under the desk" drill at school and the Fallout Shelter signs on the stairs leading to basements in public buildings. The whole CD program was patterned on sheltering from the WWII bombing campaigns. In retrospect, until the USSR built enough nukes and ways to deliver them, the CD system was probably adequate. Once they were able to throw nukes with enough ICBM's, all bets were off.
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