Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications

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248 pp., 6 x 9
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ISBN: 9781647122430 ()

248 pp., 6 x 9
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ISBN: 9781647122447 ()

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ISBN: 9781647122454

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June 2022
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Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications
A Primer on US Systems and Future Challenges
James J. Wirtz and Jeffrey A. Larsen, Editors
Foreword by Rebecca K. C. Hersman
A unique overview of the United States' current nuclear command, control, and communications system and its modernization for the digital age

Concerns about the security of nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) systems are not new, but they are becoming more urgent. While modernization is crucial to the future success of NC3 systems, the transition from analog to digital technologies has the potential to introduce vulnerabilities and unintended consequences. Nuclear infrastructure and command could be penetrated, corrupted, destroyed, or spoofed, leading to a loss of positive control (the ability to fire weapons) or negative control (the ability to prevent unauthorized or accidental use).

Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications explores the current NC3 system and its vital role in ensuring effective deterrence, contemporary challenges posed by cyber threats, new weapons technologies, and the consensus across the nuclear enterprise of the need to modernize the United States' Cold War-era system of systems. This volume, edited by James J. Wirtz and Jeffrey A. Larsen, offers the first overview of US NC3 since the 1980s. Part 1 provides an overview of the history, strategy, and technology associated with NC3 and how it enables deterrence strategy as the basis of national defense. Parts 2 and 3 identify how the US military's NC3 works, the challenges of introducing digital technologies and the potential security threats, and how the system could fail if these considerations are not taken into account. Part 4 explains the progress NC3 has made thus far, and how we might move forward.

During this critical juncture, policymakers, practitioners, and scholars will find this an invaluable resource to understanding our current NC3 system, its relationship to effective deterrence, what must be done to modernize NC3, and how to ensure this transition is undertaken safely and successfully.
James J. Wirtz is a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. His publications address intelligence analysis, deterrence, and strategy. He received his PhD from Columbia University.

Jeffrey A. Larsen is a research professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is also the president of Larsen Consulting Group. His publications focus on strategic issues, deterrence, arms control, NATO, and aerospace power. He received his PhD from Princeton University.
Reviews
"It is altogether fitting that Wirtz and Larsen and the Naval Postgraduate School are making yet another contribution to the most critical issue facing America. This book is very timely given China's across-the-board military buildup, modern advances in AI and cyber technology, and the re-emergence of nuclear weapons. The book will play a major role in helping us manage our way through the uncertainties of a multipolar nuclear world."—Paul Bracken, author of The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics



"Anyone who thinks that issues of nuclear command and control disappeared with the Cold War is sadly mistaken. As James Wirtz and Jeffrey Larsen demonstrate in this excellent and urgently needed edited collection, threats to the safe and secure management of US nuclear weapons are as acute today as ever. Only by acting now to understand and mitigate the new challenges facing the US nuclear arsenal can we hope to avoid nuclear accidents, dangerous escalation, and future nuclear crises."—Andrew Futter, professor of international politics, University of Leicester

Table of Contents
Foreword by Rebecca K. C. Hersman

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Assuring Control of the Nuclear Force

James J. Wirtz

Part I

1. Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications and the Strategy of Deterrence

James J. Wirtz

2. NC3 during the Bomber Age: 1945-57

James Clay Moltz

3. NC3 during the Missile Age: 1957-91

James Clay Moltz

Part II

4. US Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications: The NC3 Weapons

Jeffrey A. Larsen

5. Space Architecture for NC3: Systems and Technologies

Mathew R. Crook

Part III

6. Cyber Operations and Nuclear Escalation: The Diversity of Danger

Jon R. Lindsay

7. Technology Threats to NC3: Past Lessons and Current Challenge

Wade L. Huntley

8. Technology Threats to NC3: A Future Scenario

Wade L. Huntley

Part IV

9. NC3 Modernization: Progress and Remaining Changes

Michael S. Malley

Conclusion: NC3 at a Critical Juncture

Jeffrey A. Larsen

List of Contributors

Index

Contributors
Matthew R. Crook, Rebecca K. C. Hersman, Wade L. Huntley, Jeffrey A. Larsen, Jon R. Lindsay, Michael S. Malley, James Clay Moltz, James J. Wirtz