No need for 'duck and cover' on this DOD site

if you grew up in the 1950s, you probably remember "duck-and-cover" drills in school. The practice of ducking under a desk to mitigate the effects of a potential nuclear blast remains a core memory of childhood.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War all but ended nuclear brinkmanship— and theoretically the need to "duck and cover"— but many nukes are still poised on launch pads, especially in nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. That stockpile is gradually being reduced, thanks to the $2.3 billion Cooperative Threat Reduction program managed by the Defense Department. CTR was designed to help eliminate the nuclear stockpile in Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Ukraine and to assist Russia in accelerating the reduction of its strategic nuclear arms to treaty levels.

You can check out CTR's goals and progress on the program's new World Wide Web site at www.ctr.osd.mil/main.htm. The site also offers rich detail (including photographs) of the former Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal.

The crisply designed CTR Web site connects a lot of information to an uncluttered main page (www.ctr.osd.mil/index.html), which features the program's logo in the main frame and a navigation bar with links to such topics as "Mission," "Program Objectives" and "Accomplishments." Clicking on the "Program Objectives" link brings you to a text-only page that succinctly summarizes what CTR intends to accomplish, including the elimination of chemical and biological weapons as well as nukes.

The "Accomplishments" section shows that CTR has engaged in a mammoth housing construction project— amounting to $20 million in the Ukraine alone— for officers from the demobilized Strategic Rocket Forces.

A smaller frame to the left of the "Accomplishments" frame provides links to the countries involved in the CTR program. When clicked, these links offer more details about this astonishing "swords into plowshares" project. Click on the Belarus link from the "Accomplishments" frame, and up pops a map of the country, which offers links to various Belarus CTR projects. For example, the "Continuous Communications Link" button takes the user to a page that provides details on the U.S.-funded, $1.1 million system that provides secure data and voice communications among the Belarus Ministry of Defense, DOD and the State Department.

The "Photo Gallery" provides a visual overview of projects unimaginable in the 1950s or the early 1980s: scenes of U.S.-manufactured cranes lifting dismantled SS-18 missiles in Russia and U.S.-made bulldozers pushing dirt into Russian intercontinental ballistic missile silos. These pictures dramatically translate the somewhat dry prose on the CTR site into a comforting reality. It is almost time to forget the "duck and cover" exercises.

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