[[quoteright:330:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/firststrikelogo-330px_2807.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:330:You don't want to get a "strike" on ''these'' bowling pins.]]

->''Since the [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo Second World War]], the ultimate security of the United States has depended on [[PeaceThroughSuperiorFirepower the awesome destructive power of its strategic nuclear forces]] to deter thermo-nuclear war. The strength of this deterrence was based on the calculation that [[MutuallyAssuredDestruction we would inflict terrible destruction in retaliation for a nuclear attack]].\\
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This doctrine of assured destruction is dependent on the certainty in the mind of an aggressor that we have the will and ability to retaliate. To always maintain this ability, a sufficient portion of our strategic forces must be able to survive any nuclear exchange, even a surprise [[TitleDrop FIRST STRIKE]].\\
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Whether America's strategic forces will be able to survive such a disarming preemptive attack is today a matter of increasing uncertainty.''
-->-- OpeningMonologue

''First Strike'' is a 1979 documentary produced by the [[YanksWithTanks United States Air Force]], first airing on Creator/{{PBS}}, that explored the potential for the contemporary threat posed by a nuclear surprise attack by the Soviet Union and then recommended a number of then-up and coming defense projects to guard against that threat. All of which were in the purview of the Air Force, of course.

It's important for modern viewers to understand the historical context of this documentary. ''First Strike'' was produced at the start of the "Second Cold War," in which the Soviet Union underwent a ''massive'' buildup of its own military forces, resuming an aggressive expansionistic political stance after the period of détente that followed the CubanMissileCrisis.

Aside from its historical value, the documentary is noteworthy because portions of the dramatization, as well as unused clips, were part of the StockFootage employed in the 1983 MadeForTVMovie ''Film/TheDayAfter''.

The documentary's producer, Fleming "Tex" Fuller, has uploaded it in full on YouTube, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlPEBROvR9w viewable here]].

Not to be confused with [[Literature/HaloFirstStrike the Halo novel]], [[Film/PoliceStory4FirstStrike Jackie Chan's movie]], or the ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'' {{DLC}}.
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!!''First Strike'' provides examples of:
* AcceptableBreaksFromReality: Military historians generally agree that the scenario depicted in the first part of the film is extremely unrealistic. For one, the Soviet Navy would never have been able to get to the America coast undetected, mainly because Soviet submarine technology in 1979 could never breach American sonar detection. Also, the president surrenders a bit too easily; in real-life, the Soviet strike would have been met by the full mobilization of all conventional NATO forces in Europe. Also not taken into account are the British and French nuclear arsenals, which the Soviets didn't bother dealing with, not to mention the high probability of a nuclear strike and/or conventional invasion from China, which is a whole other can of worms.\\
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For the Air Force's purposes, however, all of this was an acceptable break from reality. After all, part of the point of this documentary was to convince policymakers to fund the service's strategic projects.
* BittersweetEnding: The Soviets destroy all of the United States' nuclear forces before they could strike, and the president orders all forces to stand down, effectively surrendering to the Soviets. Surprisingly, though, only eight million are killed because the strike was completely targeted at military targets (this isn't even 25% of America's population circa 1979), but the survivors will certainly suffer under Soviet tyranny and oppression.
* ChuckYeager: Major General Reinhardt of SAC Airborne Command Post never shows any sense of distress, even as reports come in that the Soviets are wiping U.S. strategic forces off the map and it becomes clear the Soviet Union is going to win the war and execute him and many other American military officials.
* CurbStompBattle: As part of the opening dramatization. The narrator puts it best--
-->''34 minutes into the attack, the strategic forces of the United States have suffered a crippling blow. Of the 1000 Minuteman missiles, only 45 remain operational, of the 330 B-52 Bombers, all but 22 have been destroyed on the ground, of the 41 ballistic missile submarines, 17 have been destroyed in port and an unknown number are presumed lost at sea. The attack has been restricted to strategic military targets. 8 million Americans are dead.\\
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The United States is given an ultimatum: Any attempt at retaliation will result in the certain annihilation of America's urban population.\\
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9 minutes later, the President orders all surviving U.S. forces to cease fire.''
** This effectively means that the Soviets have won what many assumed was an unwinnable war, and they will get away with annexing the United States, which will undoubtedly bring much suffering and death to the American people, especially if the Soviets view the Americans the same way Hitler viewed the Jews. Worse still is that America's NATO allies can do nothing or risk destruction themselves, though the Sino-Soviet Split in 1960 could be a HopeSpot, as China could align itself with NATO to launch a war against the Soviet Union and liberate the United States.
* CripplingOverspecialization: The documentary brings up a contemporary proposal to retire the bomber and ICBM fleets, relying on submarines only. Dr. Schlesinger invoked this trope in response:
-->'''Dr. James R. Schlesinger:''' If one becomes dependent on any single arm, such as submarines, the Soviets can devote a much higher percentage of their budget to solving ''their'' problems in anti-submarine warfare.
* DistinguishedGentlemansPipe: Dr. James R. Schlesinger is shown holding one during a shot.
* FighterLaunchingSequence: Ever wondered if a bomber squadron could scramble like a fighter squadron? Wonder no more! [[SubvertedTrope Too bad they get nuked in the opening dramatization.]]
** A traditional Fighter Launching Sequence is shown when the documentary discusses ways to defend against the Soviet Union's then-new bombers.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** Dr. William J. Perry hints at the existence of the Advanced Technology Bomber program--which gave birth to the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber--in his interview. It's now known that he played a major role in the development of American stealth aircraft technology through funding the related programs.
-->'''Dr. William J. Perry:''' There's a pretty high level of interest in the Air Force in a new manned bomber, but I'd want to distinguish between a airplane that would be capable of ''penetrating'' modern active air defenses, and an airplane whose only function would be to deliver cruise missiles from the exterior of the air-defense system. Those are two quite different functions.
* MisplacedNationalism: Despite being what is now completely historical material, ''First Strike'' provokes this ''very easily''--usually from people living in nations that were former members of the Soviet Union, or from those who view America as {{Eagleland}} Flavor #2 (both categories can overlap). Accusations of American warmongering and paranoia are very common, as is CulturalPosturing; even Russians who are glad that nuclear war never came (and wish it never does) will still boast in comments on this video that modern Russia (and the Soviet Union) could (have) easily crush(ed) the United States and NATO.
* MutuallyAssuredDestruction: ''First Strike'''s purpose was to highlight problems that might have unraveled this assurance.
* {{Narrator}}: Creator/MartinSheen. ''[[ActualPacifist Martin Sheen]]'', people.
* NecessaryDrawback: American (and Soviet) nuclear forces were built on a triad of weapons platforms, each with their own advantages and disadvantages:
** [=ICBMs=] were the only arm of strategic forces that had both the speed and accuracy to threaten "hard" (well-protected) targets, but as stationary silos, were highly vulnerable to attacks themselves. The Soviets rectified this somewhat by having a good portion of their ICBMs launched by truck or train, a practice that is continued by modern Russia.
** Bombers had mobility and the ability to accurately deliver nuclear weapons, but wouldn't be fast enough to hit time-urgent military targets. The types of nuclear bombers used by the USAF and the location of their bases in 1979 also made them highly vulnerable to submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Also an issue for bombers were anti-air weaponry and faster, more maneuverable fighter jets, as well as the fact that Russian broadcast signals could be quickly switched to confuse bomber crews using radio signals for navigation (the basic premise of the American CONELRAD system in use between 1951 and 1963).
** Submarines could land nukes on enemy targets in mere minutes, since they could launch right off of the enemy's coast. As submarines, they were also the most well-protected of the three strategic arms--but their lack of accuracy (in 1979 at least) made them only useful for destroying "soft" targets (such as bomber airfields--or, as Dr. Schlesinger put it, "city busting"). There is also the ever-present threat of mines, anti-submarine ships packing depth charges, and anti-submarine aircraft.
* NextSundayAD: Aside from the dramatization which posited a surprise attack during the time in which ''First Strike'' was produced, most of the discussion among the experts plots out upcoming projects and problems for the U.S. in TheEighties (and in some cases, TheNineties).
* RedScare: ''First Strike'' certainly reflects the unease and tension of the time period. As Dr. Schlesinger put it--
-->'''Dr. James R. Schlesinger:''' The Soviets, in contrast to the United States, over the last fifteen years have been ''serious'' about defense. They have been ''deadly'' serious about defense. At the moment, they are not only procuring more defense hardware than the United States by ninety or a hundred percent, they are outspending the ''entire free world'' in the area of military investment--and one must assume that they have some calculation and some motive for that behavior.
* ReportingName: The Tu-95 "Bear," M-4 "Bison," and Tu-22M "Backfire" bombers are mentioned.
* SittingDuck: Discussed at length, and depicted in the opening dramatization--none of the B-52s on alert at March AFB are able to fly away before they're nuked.
* StockFootage: The rights to footage shot for ''First Strike'' was purchased by ABC for use in ''Film/TheDayAfter''; in addition, there's a few clips obviously meant for ''First Strike'' in ''Film/TheDayAfter'' that weren't actually used in the documentary.
* TalkingHeads: Most of the documentary is devoted to interviewing various contemporary experts in the military, government, and defense industry. Among them, with the credentials they held at the time of filming:
** General Richard H. Ellis[[note]]Commander in Chief of Strategic Air Command[[/note]]
** Dr. William R. Van Cleave[[note]]Director of the Defense and Strategic Studies Program, USC[[/note]]
** Dr. James R. Schlesinger[[note]]Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975[[/note]]
** Dr. William J. Perry[[note]]Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Development[[/note]]
** Dr. William R. Graham[[note]]Co-Founder of Research and Development Associates[[/note]]
** Dr. Edward Luttwak[[note]]Senior Fellow of the Gerogetown Center for Strategic and International Studies[[/note]]
** Walter Slocombe[[note]]Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning[[/note]]
** Dr. Robert K. Squire[[note]]Director of Strategic and Tactical Studies and Analysis of the Lawrence Livermore Lab[[/note]]
** Dr. Francis P. Hoeber[[note]]Former Program Manager, Defense Studies for RAND Corporation[[/note]]
** Major General Warren C. Moore[[note]]Vice Commander in Chief of Aerospace Defense Command[[/note]]
** Paul H. Nitze[[note]]Representative of the Secretary of Defense to the SALT I negotiations[[/note]]
* WhackAMonster: The plans for the MX ICBM (later called the LGM-118 Peacekeeper) was a rare non-game example of the trope. To strike a balance between having easily viewable missiles for the purpose of strategic arms reduction and the ability to conceal the missiles so that they wouldn't be easy targets for Soviet nukes, each missile was planned to have multiple shelters and launch sites, up to ''23'', in which they would be shuffled around randomly via underground railways. This would force the Soviets to commit ''much'' more of their nuclear arsenal just to destroy America's own.