Today’s post was written by David Langbart, archivist in Research Services at the National Archives at College Park, MD.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, communications personnel in the Department of State and at U.S. diplomatic posts overseas handling telegraphic communications went into overdrive. In addition to the standard day-to-day telegrams flowing back and forth between the Department and its diplomatic and consular posts overseas, the communicators had to take care of the telegrams containing the extremely sensitive communications between the U.S. and its allies and friends bearing directly on crisis matters and the telegrams sent out to keep American diplomats and consuls apprised of what was going on.
In recognition of their hard work, Secretary of State Dean Rusk sent the following commendatory telegram.
Ironically, the Cuban Missile Crisis had exposed serious limitations in the communications system used by the U.S. Government to communicate around the world, especially to Latin America. In response, President Kennedy established the NSC Subcommittee on Communications headed by Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration William H. Orrick, Jr. The establishing directive (NSAM 201) gave the Subcommittee responsibility for ensuring the establishment of a national communications system that would make the worldwide communications available to the U.S. Government “as prompt, reliable, and secure as possible.”
Source: Department of State to All Diplomatic Posts, Circular Telegram 748, October 25, 1962, file 110.101/10-2562, 1960-63 Central Decimal File (NAID 302021), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State. Documentation on NSAM 201, the NSC Subcommittee on Communications, and the establishment of the National Communications System is in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XXV, Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; Scientific Matters