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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Strategic Command and Control

The Russian General Staff has two methods for launching nuclear weapons. Following the American pattern, the unlock and launch authorization codes held by the General Staff at their command centers can be sent directly to individual weapons commanders, who would execute the launch procedures. The crews onboard docked submarines, have demonstrated the ability to fire while surfaced at pier-side within 9 to 15 minutes after receiving the order. Or, the General Staff could direct missile launches directly from command centers in the Moscow vicinity or alternative facilities at Chekhov, Penza, and elsewhere. This is a remote launch of land-based strategic missiles would bypass the subordinate chain of command and missile launch crews.

The Soviet Union faced problems compounded by the political control of nuclear weapons by the Soviet secret police, the KGB. The KGB was strongly intertwined within the Soviet military; its tentacles extended throughout the service branches, and its agents were always on the lookout for evidence of disloyalty and apolitical leanings. They seldom looked for corruption or moral misbehavior unless they were building a case against a targeted individual.

The other force always in play was the “Zampolit,” the political officer. Lenin originated the political officer concept shortly after the Revolution as a means of monitoring the loyalist remnants of the Tsar’s army and as a purveyor of communist doctrine to the masses. The Bolsheviks characterized the Zampolit mission as a “program of public enlighten ment.” As the communist movement engulfed Russia and, later, the Soviet Union, the Zampolit concept became an integral part of every military commander’s functional responsibility.

By the late 1960s, the Soviets created the Signal system, which could detect an attempt by a crew to perform an unauthorized ballistic missile launch.

V.G.Repin, chief designer of the SPAR and SCCC in 1970-1987, recalled that "During my time as Chief Designer, four Supreme Commander-in-Chiefs were replaced, and only one of them, called by whomever marauded, Leonid Brezhnev, found for himself a necessary personal conversation with the chief designer on the use of information, as Supreme Commander-in-Chief, missile attack. Some time after the introduction [in October 1976]. He summoned me to the first stage of the missile warning system and about one and a half hours, what is the reliability of the generalized and the accuracy of the quantitative assessments of the missile situation, what are the different warning signals, why some of them require only increased attention, and some - decisive action with possible irreversible consequences. Only this conversation for me is a complete proof of the repulsiveness of those who called and ridiculed Brezhnev. And in the last years of his life I witnessed a keen interest in the cause and full clarity of the mind of this man. In 1980, under his chairmanship, a special meeting of the Council of Defense of the USSR was held , dedicated to the issues of the missile warning system. [...]Leonid Brezhnev showed genuine interest, asked many questions, delving into the essence of the problems, during the meeting, amended the draft decision. His active behavior contrasted strongly with that of other members of the Defense Council."

The main command and control of the strategic missiles is called Kazbek [the name coincides with the name of the cigarettes popular in the Soviet Union]. It is famous for its nuclear briefcase codenamed Cheget - the sacred "monarch's scepter". Perimeter is an alternative command system of Russia's nuclear forces. It was designed to automatically control a massive nuclear attack.

During the Caribbean crisis in 1962 in the Soviet Union, orders to strategic missile forces were given over radio communications and wire communications with the help of the "Monolith" system. The most serious drawback of this system was that the order from Moscow to launch the missiles could not be canceled.

There were, of course, other shortcomings. The "Monolith" system was based on the use of simple packages with secret data in the event of a nuclear war. When a certain codeword was transmitted through the system, the packages should be opened with scissors. During the training alarm, the officer's hands after the receipt of the order were so shaky that he could not open the package for several minutes, and in the conditions of nuclear war it was an eternity. The scissors had to be abandoned, and they were replaced with a buckle, for which it was enough to pull to open the package. It is known that such an improvement allowed to win only 18 seconds.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the management and communication systems were rapidly updated and automated. To replace the "Monolith" came the "Signal" system, which worked faster and, most importantly, with its help it was possible, if necessary, to cancel the order to launch the missiles.

Until the disintegration of the Soviet Union its C3 system was built on the principle of launch-on-warning [LOW]. This posture remains in effect, and procedures are regularly exercised. The Russian command system is poised to obtain nuclear weapons release authority within 10 minutes from the President, the Defense Minister, or the Chief of the General Staff, through the Cheget nuclear suitcase. Physical control of the unlock and launch authorization codes resides with the military, the General Staff has direct access to these codes, and can initiate a missile attack with or without the permission of political authorities.

Unlike other nuclear countries, Russia did not have a document (law) that determines the procedure for the transfer of the presidential "nuclear suitcase" to a person who will perform the duties of the head of state in the event that the President can not do it. When in November 1998 (and then in January 1999) the president once again fell onto the bed of the Central Kremlin Hospital and disconnected from the government - and the Power and the "nuclear suitcase" once again "forgot" to convey to Prime Minister Primakov, - all this lay with him in the hospital wards.

The Russian early warning system was clearly not as robust as the system that the Soviets had. There has been deterioration in the system since the end of the Cold War, both the number of satellites, operational satellites on orbit, and in the radars that are operational. The Russian early warning system deteriorated badly since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Only four satellites remained of more than a dozen that once watched the globe with their sensors. Some vital radar stations that once protected the Soviet Union were closed because they were on territory no longer controlled by Moscow. The Russian system does provide them with adequate warning, but Russian early warning operators may not be able to tell the difference between a peaceful rocket and a military rocket from their computer screens.

Under the leadership of GRU commander Peter Ivanovich Ivashutin in the late 1960s, a system of reconnaissance characteristics (RP) was developed to change the state of combat readiness of the troops of a probable enemy, and the strategic information obtained by reconnaissance made it possible to foresee plans and plans for its further actions in the military and military-technical spheres. This system took into account dozens of thousands of indicators that flowed to intelligence headquarters from all continents, and had an original software-mathematical apparatus for its processing in the shortest possible time.

By the early 1980s, relations between the US and the Soviet Union escalated to the utmost, especially when the NATO alliance deployed medium-range ballistic missiles Pershing-2 in West Germany. The Soviet leadership assumed that Moscow was in the radius of the defeat of these missiles. In addition, Reagan said that the US intends to build a space defense system that will shoot down Soviet missiles with a laser beam. Such a program of "star wars" from a technical point of view was impossible, but the USSR seriously feared these plans.

Reagan played with fire. The leadership of the Soviet Union was confident that the US was preparing to strike. KGB agents in Western countries were instructed to identify signs of preparing for war: whether more livestock is killed than usual, whether stocks of blood banks make, whether media freedom is limited and whether postal shipments are controlled. So would have acted in the USSR, and it was assumed that the enemy would do the same. In addition, they knew that if the war began, the American guns would be aimed at Moscow in order to deprive the country of its leadership.

For a long time no one in the country had the opportunity to launch missiles without the participation of the president, the defense minister and the chief of the General Staff. In the event of a nuclear threat, a session of the so-called conference call should immediately take place between the president, the minister of defense and the chief of the General Staff, during which in a few minutes all three had to come to a single decision. The exclusion of at least one of these procedures was allowed only theoretically.

Yeltsin so eagerly rushed to sit on the cherished Kremlin throne, that contrary to elementary logic, even days before the farewell speech, Gorbachev signed documents that he had allegedly already received from him the "technical components" of the management of the Strategic Nuclear Forces. On the evening of December 25, 1991 Marshal of Aviation Shaposhnikov, Minister of Defense of the USSR and Commander-in-Chief of the United Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States, came to the Kremlin to see Gorbachev. Without any objections, he signed on the documents fixing the transfer of the "nuclear suitcase".

A global sensation was caused by Yeltsin's statement in early 1992: "Our missiles are no longer aimed at the United States." Many in the General Staff on that day reacted to this sensational statement of the president in the same way as sons are ashamed of their father when he suddenly blurts out public nonsense or obvious untruth. He repeatedly gave out something that only in the most general outlines existed in the plans.

In January 1997 Defense Minister Igor Rodionov wrote an alarming letter to Yeltsin. He said the command-and-control systems for Russia's nuclear forces -- including the deep underground bunkers and the early-warning system -- were falling apart. "No one today can guarantee the reliability of our control systems," Rodionov said. "Russia might soon reach the threshold beyond which its rockets and nuclear systems cannot be controlled."

As of the late 1990s the command system and communications networks support nuclear operations, including launch on warning, were typically five or more years past due for overhaul and modernization, with some components ten or more years past their design life. The nuclear suitcases that receive early warning information and accompany the President, Defense Minister, and Chief of the General Staff, were falling into disrepair. Periodically the central command system would go into a "loss of regime" mode, which is a neutral position where it could not send out commands. There were also a few incidents in which individual missile silos or regiments would report to the center that they were in "combat mode" -- but the main system could prevent any accidental launch. Russian officials have repeatedly denied that the strategic forces command system is weakening. They say it has rigid controls against an accidental launch.

Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces will use a new-generation automated command and control system from 2016, the Defense Ministry said 19 September 2013. The new system, based on the digital transmission of operations orders bypassing intermediary levels straight to the launch pad, allows the prompt targeting and retargeting of missiles and ensures the effective command and control of all units and subunits, Defense Ministry spokesman Dmitry Andreyev said. The fifth-generation system will use wire, radio and satellite communication channels that are well protected from jamming and other forms of interference, he added. The system is compact and reliable and boasts low energy consumption, secure information transmission and imperviousness to external impacts, the spokesman said.

"The headquarters of the Supreme High Command" is a fascinating phrase from old Soviet black and white films about the war. Offices with maps on tables, decanters with water, greatcoats ... Now this organ of operational control of troops must come to life in our reality. By the end of 2014, the National Defense Center of the State will be operating at the Frunzenskaya Embankment in Moscow, which, in the years of military operations, will be known as the Supreme High Command's Headquarters - no longer officially, but officially.

"The National Center for Defense of the State ... will include three components: the Center for Strategic Nuclear Forces, the Center for Combat Management and the Center for the Management of the Armed Forces' Everyday Operations," announced the head of the Russian Defense Ministry, Sergei Shoigu. However, meticulous journalists from the Moscow Komsomolets have already sniffed that the Supreme Intelligence Agency will also be part of the Stavka with expanded functionality. That, to admit, is quite logical: competently organized intelligence work is half the success. "In fact, Sergei Shoigu creates for Vladimir Putin a backup analogue of the government - with a reduced functionality, but with greater efficiency."

In Moscow, on the Frunzenskaya embankment, the Stavka will be in peacetime conditions. In general, it will have not only a basic location, but it is also an underground bunker in the same place, as well as a system of reserve, field and air command posts. In peacetime, all conditions will be created so that in the event of real fighting, a real war, President Vladimir Putin would be delivered to a protected command post, air or reserve, but would not remain in Moscow.




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