DEFCON DEFense CONdition In the event of a national emergency, a series
of seven different alert Conditions (LERTCONs) can be called. The 7 LERTCONs are
broken down into 5 Defense Conditions (DEFCONs) and 2 Emergency Conditions
Defense readiness conditions (DEFCONs) describe progressive alert
postures primarily for use between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders
of unified commands. DEFCONs are graduated to match situations of varying
military severity, and are numbered 5,4,3,2, and 1 as appropriate. DEFCONs are
phased increases in combat readiness. In general terms, these are descriptions
DEFCON 5 Normal peacetime readinessEMERGCONs are national level reactions in
response to ICBM (missiles in the air) attack. By definition, other forces go to
DEFCON 1 during an EMERGCON.
DEFCON 4 Normal,
increased intelligence and strengthened security measures
Increase in force readiness above normal readiness
DEFCON 2 Further
Increase in force readiness, but less than maximum readiness
Maximum force readiness.
DEFENSE EMERGENCY: Major attack upon U.S. forces overseas, or
allied forces in any area, and is confirmed either by the commander of a
unified or specified command or higher authority or an overt attack of any
type is made upon the United States and is confirmed by the commander of a
unified or specified command or higher authority.
EMERGENCY: Air defense emergency is an emergency condition, declared by
the Commander in Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command. It indicates
that attack upon the continental United States, Canada, or US installations in
Greenland by hostile aircraft or missiles is considered probable, is imminent,
or is taking place.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US Strategic Air Command was placed on
DEFCON 2 for the first time in history, while the rest of US military commands
(with the exception of the US Air Forces in Europe) went on DEFCON 3. On 22
October 1962 SAC responded by establishing Defense Condition Three (DEFCON III),
and ordered B-52s on airborne alert. Tension grew and the next day SAC declared
DEFCON II, a heightened state of alert, ready to strike targets within the
On 15 November 1965 the day Strategic Air Command (SAC) postured down to
defense condition (DEFCON) III.
On 6 October 1973 Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a surprise attack
on Israel. On 25 October U.S. forces went on Defense Condition (DEFCON) III
alert status, as possible intervention by the Soviet Union was feared. On 26
October, CINCSAC and CINCONAD reverted to normal DEFCON status. On 31 October
USEUCOM (less the Sixth Fleet) went off DEFCON III status. The Sixth Fleet
resumed its normal DEFCON status on 17 November 1973.
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Created by John
Maintained by Webmaster
Updated Wednesday, April 29,
1998 7:46:18 AM