Thursday, May 5, 2011

Command System Vulnerability – Analysis

By M Shakir Bacha - Written by: Eurasia Review
May 4, 2011

The survivability of the command is the survivability of the strategic arsenals of the state. Command is linked with the capabilities; any harm to both can harm national strategy. Command system vulnerability is serious enough to warrant more concern than it has received, specially the concern over strategic weapons and systems. There are three areas of vulnerability to command systems. Firstly, fragile command and control systems, Computers and communication channels (C3I) which are vulnerable areas and can be used against the state. Secondly rationality of decision, mature command system will always go for rationale choice and will visualize the consequential phenomenal changes. There might me retaliatory provoking form the other states to go for irrational decision. Thirdly, failure of command and control in violence and crises risks a serious confusion of the scale of war operations.

Command systems usually cannot be quantified and physical disruption cannot be calculated frequently. The importance of assumption on a surprise nuclear attack being explicit about it is the assessment of strategic forces. Importance of command systems procedures as well as physical characteristics can change the nuclear war scenario.

Targeting the nuclear arsenals of other state is straight forward but it‘s a complicated task. Inadequate intelligence complicates the targeting tasks because command centres are open ended list with enormous number of targets. There could be missiles silos, bomber bases, and submarines bases which can be targeted accordingly but all are interdependent. State can‘t not afford a single un attacked weapon and become a victim of that. There are eight factors which are important in many ways 1.the degree of confidence and pre calculated results, 2. Safe and secure command, 3.survivability in case of any surprise attack, 4.knowledge of the command channels of the adversary (detail of the targets, technical characteristic of command centres), 5.capacity of the enemy forces 6.will of the state to penetrate deeply in enemy‘s territory e.g. Soviet willingness to deserve damage to the United States and its allies.7.wil the sates afford attacks or they have to come on negotiating table after having suffered from initial attacks.8.the goal and objective of attack enemy command centre. The command systems are imaginable to attack because of the natural tendency of the targeting plans and command systems could easily be attacked or prelude to attack.

The US command system is vulnerable in an operational context as follows:

The U.S. is surrounded by sea so the communication to the missiles submarines is less reliable than the other legs of the triad. It would be difficult to assess submarines according to their own needs and according to abstract technical standards. It would be difficult to judge how submarines must communicate to survive.

The submarines might be cut off from higher authority throwing their role in doubt as thultimate guarantor of second strike capability. In case of war the submarines would know immediately that the very low frequency broadcast has been interrupted but they will not know why and what‘s the broadcast exactly for. Submarines launched ballistic missiles are unable to participate in limited nuclear ad hoc strike this is the drawback of submarine and for the states surrounded by sea having strong naval forces particularly submarines.

Launch under attack has very small surviving fraction if under attack. The deficit must be made up from missiles that would be destroying if they rode out adversary attack. The general features of LUA are the data which would be appeared in command centres-the decision will be bounded at the back. The intervening time range will be very less (0-15 minutes).the decision to attack will done at the time when there will be maximum disruption in command system. LAU can be succeeded if the adversary focus on other targets and exclude some targets.

Bombers operations are complex because they have to stay in air for more time, fueling issues, communications channels disruption, miss understanding in command chains. Once in air they might be diverted from the original plan which can cause pressure and command channels may harm the situation.

In military there is a proper chain of command .if the president has the codes that can be transferred through the chain of command from higher commanders to the field commanders. The president may issue orders from alternate position and place.

For the survivability the Sate might have distribute permissive action links codes to custodial or commanders at the time when nuclear weapons are released from the storage point to the commanders. The commander in command system must make special effort to collect the relevant data how and when to attack. Number of emerging weapons could adapt a command system attack. Arms control would have less vulnerability of fixed command system targets.

Assessing the command system vulnerability is a difficult task in India Pakistan case but geographically closed to each other, less warning time, sense of responsibility among two states are the factor which make both states dependent.

The writer is Analyst on strategic and nuclear studies. Can be reached at