The recent Missile tests have brought to the fore, once again the talks on south Asian nuclear arms race and scenarios. It is imperative to understand that mere capability in terms of Agni V or any other nuclear delivery capability does not signify step-change in nuclear postures. The overall nuclear postures requires an understanding of doctrine and command and control system that nation has in place. In this regard, we explore the key elements of such a command control system and propose a high level structure of such a National C2 Network.
Command and Control (C2) is defined as the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commander over assigned forces in the accomplishment of a mission. The C2 functions are performed through an arrangement of personnel, equipment, communications, facilities and procedures which are employed by a commander in planning, directing, coordinating and controlling forces and operation in the accomplishment of the mission. The command system include sensors, communication links and command centers that form the physical network as well as the plans, procedures, organizations and widely shared assumptions that allow the parts to work together coherently. In essence C2 affects the human interface with mechanical structures that allows weapons to be deployed.
Decision Requirements while designing National C2 Network
Positive versus Negative Control – Any nation while designing its National Command and Control System for employment of Strategic (nuclear) weapons needs to decide whether, it needs positive or negative control over its nuclear forces. The positive control implies the state’s ability to effectively deploy such forces at its discretion, while negative control implies a state’s ability to deny unauthorized use of its nuclear forces. With positive control, the control of nuclear forces needs to be delegated to a large number of persons who can launch the weapons at their discretion, if the situation demands. With negative control a select few who are in direct communication with Central Authority are in possession of nuclear weapons. These few launch only after the Central Authority command. However, with positive control the probability of accidental and unauthorized use increases, while with negative control the State’s nuclear forces are vulnerable to adversary’s first pre-emptive strike.
Delegated versus Assertive C2- In Delegated C2, State leaders might feel compelled to provide lower – echelon commanders with the legal authorizations to release their nuclear weapons should central or National Command Authority (NCA) be neutralized by a decapitate strike. In this case intrusive mechanisms would be in place to prevent use without specific authorization from above. While an Assertive C2 system would depend less on subordinate loyalty by procedures requiring multiple personnel to be present every time nuclear warheads were accessible.
C2 Failure Modes – It is mentioned while deciding upon the C2 Failure Modes, that C2 systems that are more delegated in their orientation are likely to fail “deadly” because fearing a pre-emptive loss of force or decapitation, they will assume a “hair trigger” posture and be prepared to launch on warning. Low-echelon commanders, in the midst of crises, might deploy the nuclear weapons under their control due to misperception, inaccurate intelligence or accidental/temporary loss of communications with National Command Authority. With Assertive systems, the physical, intrusive safeguards take time to overcome before the weapons can be used. Such circumstances would prove unfavorable to the state under actual nuclear attack, i.e., the C2 will fail “Impotent”. However, a relatively slower, less reactionary C2 system might prove a god send in the case where a perceived strike turned out to be a false alarm.
Thus, an assertive C2 structure may prove to be a more stabilizing system than a delegated one in a confrontation between two nuclear armed rivals.
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