No Longer Classified: How the U.S. Military Conducted Actual Nuclear War 'Wargames in the 1950s
Years of tests tried to discover the psychological toll of nuclear war.
The fragile radiation badges—and the general lack of data—became a central issue.
“For the majority of test participants, film badges are available,” the Pentagon found. “In some cases, however, badges were lost or unreadable, or records of doses may not be available today.”
In 1979, DNA published its first official review covering Desert Rock VII and VIII, mainly because badge information for almost everyone involved in those latter tests were still available.
Eight years later, the Pentagon released its findings on the first three Desert Rock war games. For these early maneuvers, the nuclear researchers had to estimate how much radiation the soldiers received.
With the new data from DNA’s study, Pres. George H.W. Bush signed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act into law in 1990. Under the legislation, anyone who worked on atmospheric nuclear tests—including the Desert Rock exercises—could receive a one-time payment of $75,000.
For all the trouble, the Pentagon only seemed to reaffirm the obvious, that a nuclear war would be devastating for decades to come.
This article by Joseph Trevithick first appeared on War is Boring in 2015.