52. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara 1



  • Deep Underground Command Center (DUCC) (S)
Reference is made to a memorandum by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, dated 21 August 1964, subject as above.2
Within the context of the reference, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were requested to advise the Secretary of Defense as regards what functions they believe the Deep Underground Command Center (DUCC) should be capable of performing, and the number of people they believe the facility must house in order to perform these functions and to support the facility.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that, if a DUCC is approved and constructed as an element of the National Military Command System (NMCS), it should be capable of performing those functions which support the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their role as principal military advisors to the President. If the President and his civilian and military advisors are to relocate to the DUCC, the facility must have the capability of performing the following pre-attack military functions as they pertain to international crisis situations and general nuclear war:
To maintain a minimum data base on the world-wide status of forces, Single Integrated Operational Plan, and force generation levels to ensure that the President will have adequate information to support a decision to authorize, if necessary, the use of nuclear weapons.
To maintain a capability to receive from external sources pertinent information on surveillance and analysis of the world situation, and indicator/warning data and current intelligence; and to maintain minimum facilities to conduct intelligence briefings on information and data received.
To provide an effective means of: (1) communications with the commanders of the unified and specified commands; and (2) negotiations with allied and foreign governments and the United Nations.
To receive, process, and use, as available and as necessary, information from the National Military Command Center and existing Alternate Command Centers and Command Posts of the NMCS and other government agencies.
To maintain a state of readiness, including a current data base, to translate during the period of tactical warning from a standby condition to a fully capable primary Command Center to the extent permitted by the facilities provided, and prescribed by pertinent directives.
During the trans-attack and post-attack periods of a general nuclear war, a DUCC may be required to operate independently with information received directly from sources external to the Washington complex. In order to provide for this contingency, the DUCC must have the capability, within the context of a minimum facility, of performing the following functions in addition to those specified in the above paragraphs:
To receive and display information on the military and political situation in order to determine as quickly and accurately as possible the time, magnitude, and objective of the attack.
To disseminate decisions, orders, and instructions as to the appropriate action to be taken in response to an attack or threat of attack.
To communicate, by the surest and most effective means possible, with the major elements of the World-Wide Military Command and Control System.
Communications requirements vary considerably between critical international crises and general war. A need exists for an extensive world-wide network of reliable communications during crisis situations. After general war begins, the emphasis would then switch to survivable communications among the major command centers of the World-Wide Military Command and Control System primarily for the strategic direction of the military forces. However, there would remain a need for communications with the principal civil defense centers, and for negotiations with the principal adversary. Therefore, it appears that the functions of command communications would require that the DUCC be equipped with communications which approximate the capability now planned for the Alternate National Military Command Center.
It appears that the concept and capability reflected in the National Emergency Airborne Command Post would represent the minimum capability required in a DUCC to serve as an emergency command post for decision-making by the President. It is envisioned that the decision group, which would relocate to the DUCC, would comprise the National Command Authorities with a minimum number of [Page 155]advisory personnel, and that they would remain in the DUCC in a post-attack situation only until the National Command Authorities could be relocated to a site from which the functions of government could more adequately be discharged. Basically, however, advisory information would be provided the DUCC by existing and surviving alternate command facilities equipped with larger data bases. A minimum data base would be maintained in the DUCC and staff support, to the extent feasible, would be provided to the decision group.
The determination of the precise number of people the DUCC must house in order to support the total mission of the facility, including the operation of the national government in crisis situations as well as the conduct of general nuclear war, would necessitate considerable liaison with the White House, and other departments and agencies of the national government. However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that approximately 50 military personnel would be required to perform their part of the above functions in the manner described in the preceding paragraph. The figure does not include personnel for facility maintenance, communications, security, and housekeeping support for which about 175 additional people can be identified at this time. Additional functions and personnel possibly would be required to operate the national government in accordance with the desires of the President, and to the extent outlined in the reference. These latter requirements should be provided by the appropriate Departments and Agencies concerned, in order that the composite functional and personnel requirements, and hence the optimum size of the facility, may be established.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Earle G. Wheeler 3

Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 70 A 4662, 381 DUCC (10 Jan 64) 1963 and 64 Papers. Top Secret.
  2. Vance’s August 21 memorandum to the Joint Chiefs of Staff summarized JCSM–446–64, “Proposed Deep Underground Command Center,” May 25; went on to express some views on the proposed center; and concluded by asking the JCS to advise OSD of the “functions they believe the facility must be capable of performing and the number of people they believe the facility must house in order to perform those functions and to support the facility.” Copies of JCS-446–64 and Vance’s August 21 memorandum are ibid.
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates Wheeler signed the original.