ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

DEFCON: What Does it Mean and What Levels Have we Alerted Too

Updated on November 17, 2018
Gerry Glenn Jones profile image

I write a wide variety of genres about people, places, things, and animals. Some are factual and fictional articles. This is a true story.

In 1959, levels of nuclear readiness were established by the United States and Canada in preparation of a warning system in case of threats, or possible threats from countries with nuclear capabilities.

This system was called, "defense readiness condition (DEFCON)," and has 5 levels; however, some include a 6th level, which will never be instituted on Earth. We'll cover it later.

If you have ever wondered what each level means, and when we have used each of them, keep reading. They will be in reverse order.

What a nuclear attack on Washington might look like
What a nuclear attack on Washington might look like | Source


DEFCON 5 is considered "normal peacetime readiness," but with all the conflicts in the world today, we may be constantly at DEFCON 4; only our government knows for sure, and that is classified information.

NORAD | Source


DEFCON 3 level is defined as an "increase in force readiness above normal readiness."

When we are at this level the US armed forces are ready to deploy in 6 hours. The U.S. begins showing more force and initiates a higher intelligence level and actively, and more thoroughly tacks potential terrorists or insurgents.

We have been at this level three times, which the public is aware of. The first was the "Yom Kippur War" in 1973, when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, and again in "Operation Paul Bunyan." It occurred when two United States Army officers, Captain Arthur Bonifas and Lt. Mark Barrett, were killed with axes by North Korean soldiers in the Demilitarized Zone in 1976.

We also went into DEFCON 3 when the World Trade Center towers were attacked by terrorists in 2001.


DEFCON 4 is classed as at "increased intelligence and strengthened security measures." During this security level, the U.S. is constantly gathering intelligence on global events and suspicious activities which may constitute war.

We were on DEFCON 4 many times during the Gulf Wars and may be on DEFCON 4 now, due to world events. Some believe it is a part of everyday life now.

Good day
Good day | Source



is a step above 3. It is an increase in force readiness and brings the military to its pinnacle of strength before possible deployment to DEFCON 1. This is the highest state of readiness the U.S. has ever reached. During this level, the USAF is prepared to deploy within 15 minutes. It has only been declared twice.

The first of these Defcon 2 alerts came during The "Cuban Missile Crisis" in October 1962.

Our military forces were ordered to prepare for nuclear warfare with the Soviet Union unless they backed down from their construction of nuclear missile bases in Cuba, which was only 103 miles from the Florida Keys in the U.S. and 1,110 miles from Washington, DC.

In 1991, the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared DEFCON 2 in the opening phase of "Operation Desert Storm."

 An Israeli pilot, Shimshon Rozen, climbing into a McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II during the Yom Kippur War
An Israeli pilot, Shimshon Rozen, climbing into a McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II during the Yom Kippur War | Source



which is the “maximum force readiness,” has never been reached as far as we know. When it is declared all U.S. military forces are ready to be deployed, in preparation for full-scale thermonuclear war.

There are many things we don't know about some of the incidents which have occurred, and what actual levels of DEFCON were used because many are classified.

Also, the DEFCON scale is not the only system the U.S. government uses to rate readiness against foreign and domestic dangers. The others are LERTCON (alert condition - used by the U.S. and NATO allies), REDCON (readiness condition - used by individual U.S. military units), and EMERGCON (emergency condition - which is used after an intercontinental ballistic missile attack.)

World Trade Center after attack in 2001
World Trade Center after attack in 2001 | Source
Epicenter of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan - 1945
Epicenter of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan - 1945 | Source

Only One Country Would Have Definitely Used DEFCON 1

The only country in the world which would have gone to DEFCON 1, if it had been available in 1945, was Japan, which was struck by two atomic bombs, dropped by the U.S. to end World War II.

Now, that you know a little more about DEFCON 1 - 5, let's look at DEFCON 6, which I said earlier would never be possible and is not part of the official DEFCON system. DEFCON 6 is described as total peace, serenity, and love in the world. We will only reach DEFCON 6 when we get to Heaven.

Wonderous day
Wonderous day | Source
U.S. aerial reconnaissance photograph of a medium range ballistic missile launch site at San Cristobal in Cuba, on 1 November 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis
U.S. aerial reconnaissance photograph of a medium range ballistic missile launch site at San Cristobal in Cuba, on 1 November 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis | Source



DEFCON Warning System



This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)