The nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) system is a large and complex system of systems comprised of numerous terrestrial, airborne, and space-based components used to assure connectivity between the President and nuclear forces. The current NC3 architecture consists of systems that support day-to-day nuclear and conventional operations prior to a nuclear event as well as "thin line" systems that are to provide survivable, secure, and enduring communications through all threat environments. Though some are specific to the nuclear mission, most NC3 systems support both strategic and conventional missions.
NC3 systems support five important functions:
- Situation monitoring: collection, assessment, and dissemination of information on friendly forces, adversary forces and possible targets, emerging nuclear powers, and worldwide events of interest.
- Planning: development and modification of plans for the employment of nuclear weapons and other options.
- Decision making: assessment, review, and consultation on the decision to use nuclear weapons and for supporting operations.
- Force management: assignment, training, deployment, maintenance, and logistics support of nuclear forces before, during, and after a crisis.
- Force direction: implementation of decisions regarding the execution, termination, destruction, and disablement of nuclear weapons.