Special Council Would Oversee Nuclear Command System

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 01:02 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Lawmakers want the Pentagon to create a special council to oversee government leaders' communications in the event of a nuclear crisis.

The council to oversee the Pentagon's existing NC3 system, which controls nuclear weapons command and communications processes, would be included in Congress' compromise on an annual military authorization bill, reports DefenseOne.com. The council would also be responsible for identifying and mitigating any NC3 technology vulnerabilities.

It would also oversee system-performance assessments, develop system architectures, and ensure the program continues to have the resources it needs to operate, including support for ongoing projects like the Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals, which would give senior government and military officials the ability to communicate securely over satellites.

The 2014 defense authorization measure has already been approved in the House, with the Senate expected to begin its own discussions on it Wednesday, reports Politico.

The technology for ongoing projects is expected to take years of continued development, a Senate staffer told DefenseOne, so House and Senate Armed Service Committee members believe the whole process of acquisition and policy should be institutionalized, including establishing a council to manage it all.

Acquisition planning for NC3 advancements now happens on an "ad hoc" basis that changes depending who is in charge, the unnamed aide said.

If the provision is added to the authorization bill, it would elevate the NC3 network inside the Pentagon. The council would be co-chaired by the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics.

The council would also include the undersecretary of Defense for policy, the head of Strategic Command, the director of the National Security Agency, and the Pentagon's chief information officer.

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