FOR RELEASE SEPTEMBER 7, 1961
 


CONGRESSMAN'S REPORT

By Morris K. Udall

CIVIL DEFENSE GETS A NEW LOOK

In this century Americans have sent their sons to major wars about every twenty years. If this timetable is to be followed in our time, war is imminent; and while everyone is hopeful disaster will pass us by, the mood in Washington is that "this could be it." War, if it comes, this time will not just threaten young men; it will threaten women, children, old and young in a form so dreadful that few people really want to think about it. Thus, I believe our leaders are right in taking a new look at civil defense.

For years this program was in the hands of the Office of Civil Defense and Mobilization, an independent agency which had no cabinet representation and never succeeded in "selling" its program to the administration, Congress or the people. One of President Kennedy's major moves in recent weeks has been to place important civil defense responsibilities in the hands of the Department of Defense. Now, for the first time, the vast research and development facilities of the Defense Department will be brought into play in attacking what Rep. Chet Holifield has called "one of the most difficult and disagreeable problems of our times."

Last year the Civil Defense budget was only $60 million. In the wake of the Berlin crisis Congress quickly tripled the program, providing $207 million to the Department of Defense and another $86 million to the OCDM. At last a start is being made toward an effective civil defense program.

What will this mean for Arizona? Only time will tell. Recent press reports in our state indicate increasing public concern. Phoenix newspapers have been running ads for bomb shelters, and the Tucson Daily Citizen has run a 14-part series on civil defense. Here in Washington it's safe to say that the Defense Department knows it has some serious problems in Arizona, especially around Tucson, where the installation of 18 Titan missile sites has created a major new target area for enemy missiles.

To those who have been concerned about the siting of these missiles upwind of Tucson's population I can say that civil defense officials here are very much aware of the situation. Lights go on when the subject is even mentioned.

But how important is civil defense to our nation? I asked that question this week of Frank Ellis, Director of the office of Civil Defense and Mobilization, the man who must coordinate our civil defense efforts. In answer he told me that the

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CONGRESSMAN'S REPORT PAGE 2...CIVIL DEFENSE GETS A NEW LOOK 


Soviet Union currently is spending from $500 million to $1.5 billion a year on its civil defense appropriations. He said that civil defense is regarded as an integral part of the Soviet readiness for war.

If Russia were to be better prepared to protect its population than we were to protect ours, it could have far-reaching implications for our military posture. Conceivably Russia could warn its people, send them underground, and then secretly strike the first blow in a nuclear war. This is the reason President Kennedy has transferred certain responsibilities to the Defense Department.

In testimony last month Secretary of Defense McNamara outlined plans for a stepped-up program of civil defense, including a comprehensive survey of all existing structures which could be fitted out and marked for fallout shelter. Here are some of the other features of the new Defense Department program:

--It proposes to test ways of increasing capacity of existing space through installation of forced-draft ventilation, enabling more people to breathe in a given area.

--It proposes to establish existing protected spaces as fallout shelters and to equip them with five-day food rations, packaged water rations, first-aid medical supplies, radiological testing equipment, sanitation supplies and simple tools.

--It proposes a program of research and development to produce new solutions to shelter problems, including new designs for fallout shelters.

--It seeks to improve communications facilities in various ways, including establishing of NEAR (National Emergency Alarm Repeater), a system whereby families can, for $5 or $10, install a warning device in their own homes.

A start is being made toward discharging our civil defense responsibilities. Much more must and will be done, I'm sure, in the months ahead.

With the Russians resuming nuclear tests and threatening war over West Berlin we can't afford to ignore the ugly implications of modern war.

If the Russians are better prepared to withstand a nuclear war than we, our superior weapons may not be enough to deter them.

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