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Sentinel

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 named SENTINEL.

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.

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