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Nuclear posture, command and control

Nuclear posture, command and control

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Published by kabud
The research paper touches intriguing aspects of nuclear strategy : posture, command, control, vulnerabilities, etc
The research paper touches intriguing aspects of nuclear strategy : posture, command, control, vulnerabilities, etc

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Published by: kabud on Jun 23, 2009
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01/28/2013

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The command and control system of the United States is an elaborate and robust
system which has matured over the years. The nuclear doctrine of the Cold War has been
given a new direction by NPR 2001 in which the integration of conventional and strategic
forces will take place. With the end of Cold War the U.S. is no longer required to
maintain such a vast nuclear command and control system. However, during and after the
Cold War the U.S. has maintained a fine balance of positive and negative control through
highly advanced technical and organizational measures. The emerging nuclear states can
learn a lot from the past experiences of the U.S. and develop a nuclear command and
control system to suit their nuclear strategy based on technical and organizational
measures sustained by the United States.

The U.S. nuclear command and control system is structured on four basic
elements: nuclear doctrine, civil-military relations, technology and finance (see Figure
15). The core of the nuclear command and control system is the nuclear doctrine which
caters to the perceived threat. Civil-military relations cater to the organizational set-up for
controlling nuclear weapons. Technology assists in catering to the command and control
requirements of political and military leadership. The necessary finance is used for
setting up this huge command and control system with global reach. The civil-military
relations and technical elements provide the necessary political and technical control of
the nuclear weapons.

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Figure 15.

Nuclear Command and Control System Model

The LOW nuclear posture of the United States is incongruous in the Indian
context. However, except for the non-relevance of early warning systems in the Indian
context, all other constituents of the U.S. nuclear command and control system are highly
applicable for an Indian nuclear command and control system. It is pertinent to note here
that some of the systems are not required on such an elaborate scale as is the case in U.S.
systems, and they include communications network, technical aids required for U.S.
global reach, systems for generating SIOP, and some others.

Finance

Technology

Civil-Military
Relations

Nuclear
Doctrine

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IV. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INDIAN NUCLEAR COMMAND
AND CONTROL

A.

INTRODUCTION

The case study of the nuclear command and control system of the United States
implies the necessity for close attention to four aspects: nuclear doctrine, civil-military
relations, technology and finance. The first and foremost consideration is nuclear
doctrine, which is based on the threat perceived, and determines the nuclear policies and
posture of a nuclear weapons state. Civil-military relations and the technology available
determine the organizational procedures and technical support to the civilian control of
nuclear operations. The financial element encompasses the building and maintenance of
the nuclear arsenal, the delivery platforms, and the nuclear command and control
systems.

In the Indian context, the promulgated nuclear doctrine is based on NFU, which
entails restraint and retaliation only against a nuclear first strike. The adoption of an NFU
policy is unique, as none of the declared nuclear weapon states, except China, follow
such a declaratory policy. According to former Defense Minister Jaswant Singh, “No
other country has debated so carefully and, at times, torturously over the dichotomy
between its sovereign security needs and global disarmament instincts, between a
moralistic approach and a realistic one, and between a covert nuclear policy and an overt
one."163 The NFU and the de-mated nuclear posture of India simplify its command and
control system during peacetime, but pose an equally challenging burden on nuclear
operations during crisis and war. The command and custody arrangement of nuclear
weapons for India during peacetime demonstrates a low credible deterrent. The mating of
nuclear arsenal after a first strike will be a challenging task because the possible lack of
political leadership and certain disarray of communication systems will pose an extra
burden on the decision-making process. It is then pertinent to find a nuclear posture that
suits the NFU policy, is commensurate with the threat perceived, demonstrates “true”
credible deterrence, suits the unique Indian civil-military relations, is assertive in control,

163 Jaswant Singh, “Against Nuclear Apartheid,” Foreign Affairs 77, no. 5 (September/October 1998).

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and last but not least, is financially viable. Without the nuclear command and control
system, the nuclear posture would be like having a car with four wheels but without a
steering system.

The division of the nuclear command and control system looks simpler to study in
the four aspects of nuclear doctrine, civil-military relations, technology, and finance, but
it is difficult to formulate a new command and control system under these aspects. This is
because there are overlaps in the four aspects mentioned above and many finer details are
left out, but these are required at the beginning to set up a complex organization such as a
nuclear command and control system.

The formulation of a new command and control system for India can be based on
administrative, operational, and technical elements. Civil-military relations and the
financial implications are aspects which come under the administrative element. The
operational element demonstrates the advocated command and control cycle and would
involve civilian leadership, the military and nuclear scientists in various roles associated
with the Indian nuclear posture. With the technical elements, India should attain certain
technological capabilities to carry out its nuclear operations. The cooperation in technical
elements from strategic partners such as the United States could assist India in setting up
a robust command and control system. The recommendations for the Indian Nuclear
Command and Control System (INCCS) for consideration would be covered under
administrative, operational, and technical elements. The assistance from strategic partners
and the secondary roles of INCCS are also covered in this chapter.

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