At the request of Secretary of Defense McNamara, the US Army worked up a deployment plan aimed specifically at the
supposed Chinese threat. It was believed then (1967), based on the Chinese nuclear test program, that China could have a few
operational ICBMs in the early 1970s.
This deployment plan was presented in July 1967. It consisted of several PARs across the northern boundary of the United
States and Alaska to perform the long-range detection and acquisition function; MSRs and SPARTAN batteries in the
continental United States and Alaska, and one MSR and SPRINT battery in Hawaii. The deployment required several hundred
SPARTANs for overall defense and a lesser number of SPRINTs to defend the PARs.
The entire country was thus given en area defense against a first-generation threat. Deployment of some of the complement of
MSRs in Minuteman fields provided an option to give some of the Minuteman forces a high quality terminal defense by
installing SPRINTs in these fields later.
The investment costs (excluding research and development and tactical operation and maintenance) were estimated to be in the
vicinity of $5 billion. In September 1967, McNamara announced a decision to go ahead on this deployment. It was subsequently
The SENTINEL proposal was widely criticized, and after the presidential election the incoming administration Nixon's set up a
review of the whole defense concept.
- Adapted from Vigilant and Invincible by Colonel Stephen P. Moellerf ADA (Air Defense Artillery) Magazine May-June 1995.
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