From 1951 to 1957, Multiple tests, under the codename Desert Rock, attempt to prepare troops to fight this new kind of war, boots on the ground of an atomic battlefield.
|Where did they test the atomic bomb in Nevada? Desert rock nuclear tests. |
Desert rock nuclear testsCamera crews capture troops piling into trenches, just a few thousand yards from ground zero, and turn the footage into training films.
In 1953, there's still a lot they don't know, especially about the effects of radiation poisoning.
For thousands of troops, the Desert Rock detonations are the ultimate leap of faith.
Stationed in trenches right out of World War I, waiting for hours in the Nevada sun for the inevitable countdown to Armageddon.
The stage is set for the Desert Rock atomic test in Nevada. Training films made from operations like this, prepare troops for both the military tactics and emotional impact of fighting on an atomic battlefield.
"The biggest value of the operation is for us to prove to ourselves that it can be done." Said one of the soldiers participating in the experiment...
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Even as the effects of radiation become a subject of concern and study, it would still be years before its full impact is understood.
As they enter the blast area within an hour after the detonation, they realize the danger of radiation sickness from an air burst is slight.
There are early episodes in which radioactive fallout is dismissed as not a major health concern, as something that could be handled very easily.
A thorough head-to-foot examination will reveal any accumulation of radioactive material.
Vigorous sweeping with a broom removes contaminated dust and dirt from shoes and clothing.
In the end, Desert Rock is comprised of five different test operations, each with multiple detonations-- 69 in all.
More than 50,000 troops participate, guinea pigs in America's new atomic age.
As exercise Desert Rock is concluded, initial reactions are it is possible to utilize an atomic weapon in close support of ground troops, in those cases where the conditions surrounding its use are carefully considered.