Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications

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Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Air Force Association, 2019 - Command and control systems - 37 pages
While the modernization of the systems that make up the nuclear triad are currently planned and now under debate, the fundamental underpinning for their success tends to get little attention. Specifically, the nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) system that allows positive control of these weapons in peace and, if necessary, in war is a crucial modernization requisite. It is these systems that define an architecture that coalesces in a coherent fashion all the activities, processes, and procedures performed by military commanders and support personnel that, through the chain of command, allow for senior-level decisions on nuclear weapons employment. As a result of the highly classified nature of these activities, little has been written about the NC3 architecture. The intent of this study is to illustrate, in an unclassified setting, America's NC3 infrastructure in order to convey the absolute criticality of modernizing it. Only with a modernized NC3 system can we ensure that the U.S. retains a resilient and robust command and control architecture that is fundamental to the effectiveness of the nuclear triad. In this regard, the NC3 enterprise is truly the "fifth pillar" of the nation's overall nuclear modernization program--together with modernization of the triad's weapons systems, and the nuclear warhead stockpile itself. Simply put, when it comes to nuclear modernization, NC3 is the least expensive, yet perhaps the most critical

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