It is seldom referred the story of the man who saved the world, Stanislav Petrov. Petrov says, “All that happened didn’t matter to me — it was my job. I was simply doing my job, and I was the right person at the right time, that’s all. My late wife for 10 years knew nothing about it. ‘So what did you do?’ she asked me. ‘I did nothing.'”
Petrov was duty officer, in charge to register apparent enemy missile launches. And in the early hours of the morning 26th September 1983, the early warning system detected na incoming missile strike from the USA. In addition, computer readouts indicated that several missiles were already on the way to the Soviet Union…His duty, the protocol to fulfill would have been to retaliate. But he decided not to report them to his superiors, and instead dismissed them as a false alarm. His decision may have save the world…
There was no rule about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike. But we knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time”
Quoting Stanislav Petrov
“I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it,” he told the BBC’s Russian Service 30 years after that overnight shift.
And yet, when the moment came, he says he almost froze in place.
“The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” he says.
The system was telling him that the level of reliability of that alert was “highest”. There could be no doubt. America had launched a missile.
“A minute later the siren went off again. The second missile was launched. Then the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. Computers changed their alerts from ‘launch’ to ‘missile strike’,” he says.
This event make us to think what would happen if, instead of a wise man, it would be there in duty, a crazy military…