Nuclear 201: Additional Thoughts On Coms

While I still hope for a further guest post or two, today I want to lay out a few further thoughts on nuclear communications. We’ve got into some of the how, and why, they are done the way they are to prevent problems. Another point to consider is that you don’t want any enemy or potential enemy to be able to read your mail.

The fact is, anyone with a functional brain does tests of their command and control systems. You check things out, try to find and correct problems, and test the reliability of the system in all aspects. Thing is, you don’t want those who don’t like you to know what you do and how you do it as it gives them both information and options.

There is a lot of discussion on preventing or eliminating that command and control communications. If you can do that, you can keep release and launch orders from going out. Thing is, even better, if you can get the right info and access the right things you can do something even worse: you can take over that net. Imagine if someone got inside the net, sent the necessary targeting info, then launched your missiles for you — at targets inside your own country/forces.

Shades of a bad James Bond movie? Not entirely, and there are rumors that such has been gamed out.

Going back to reading the mail, keep in mind that different countries/powers use different systems. We tend to go with solid rocket motors, while others go for liquid engines. If you are using liquid engines, you have to load fuel before launch. If someone is reading your mail, and they know you’ve ordered all rockets to load fuel, a process that is not instantaneous though faster than it was I’ve heard, and that you’ve taken steps to prevent detection of said loading, what happens? Do you think they might launch attacks that can hit your sites before load and launch is complete? Using sea- and air-launched assets could take out the attack before it gets started, and reserves the crucial land-based launch capabilities for either last-ditch or follow-on operations.

So, you want to have a robust system to prevent bad things and ensure that things work. Do we have such? No. As a commenter pointed out earlier (think it was The Drill Sergeant) we do not, and in fact some of what we have is reported (widely) to still use floppy discs. On the good news front, as someone noted in an article elsewhere, it uses technology that is so old it pretty much precludes modern hackers from getting inside it. For a number of reasons, I invite you to research this on your own as it is yet another area where we need to be making some serious changes and upgrades.

On that happy note, enjoy your weekend!



Nuclear 201 Posts In Order

Nuclear 201: Some History

Nuclear 201: Will You Be My PAL?

Nuclear 201: A Bit More C&C

Nuclear 101 Posts In Order:

Nuclear What?

Nuclear 101: Weapons

Nuclear 101: Delivery

Nuclear 101: Now What?

Nuclear 101: Targeting

Nuclear 101: Scenarios

Nuclear 101: Survival

Some Quick Thoughts


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5 thoughts on “Nuclear 201: Additional Thoughts On Coms”

  1. I believe the floppies in the ICBM LCF’s have been replaced…mainly because there were no more parts available for 8″ hard sectored floppy drives, and they just wore out. But you have to admire the security of using such an esoteric, if not archaic, system….

    1. My faith in some of the leadership is such that in regards the floppies I say “maybe” and perhaps likely. The parts and repair issue may finally have forced their hand. BTW, love the Steve Canyon artwork, Milton Caniff is not given half the due he deserves.

  2. My experience, way out near the pointy end of the nuke spear is that with coms issues, and lots of successive NRAS card breaks, some number of weapons release orders won’t get through promptly. That’s before one factors in willful disobedience, and lots of calls up the chain asking if this is for real.

  3. “… if you can get the right info and access the right things you can do something even worse: you can take over that net.”

    Search for “Senior Suter.” In a 20+ year old article in Aviation Week, AF General stated we are rapidly approaching the point where we can tell an enemy missile it is a Maytag and put it in the rinse cycle. Other AW&ST articles talked about US ability to enter enemy radar systems through their antenna and display whatever information we wanted – control of the radar system processor.

    Also NC3 is used for situational awareness. Changing the picture can be very effective.

    As for “we test.” – A good “hack” will always work in test, but won’t work when the hacker wants it to not work. One version is characterized as “the kill switch.” Works in peacetime, but won’t work in wartime. It’s better to test than not test, but testing does not solve the problem.

    As for adversaries launching our missiles on our own territory, most of that effect could be achieved by “accidents” in silos. They would not need to go nuclear. US would shut them down on our own.

    And don’t limit your choices to just one type of attack — “this OR that”, but take advantage of the possibilities provided by many attacks on many fronts. Have options in breadth and depth — the all you can eat buffet model. Many of the best attacks will require actions well in advance, to lie latent until desired.

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