86. Study Prepared in the Department of Defense1


[Here follow the Introduction and Chapters I–VI.]

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Chapter VII

Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations

The President increasingly becomes the focal point of crisis management as a crisis intensifies. He devotes more time to the crisis and considers selected operations in greater detail. The President needs and operates with extreme flexibility—flexibility in constituting his immediate decision group; in defining alternate courses of action that must be considered; in determining, to the extent feasible, the timing of the U.S. responses and therefore the time allowable for staff inputs; flexibility in seeking detailed information on selected military operations; in establishing and employing the organization and operational command chain including reducing the number of echelons of command; flexibility in determining the sensitivity of selected information relating to the crisis; in communicating with allied, neutral and enemy heads of state; and in establishing constraints or accepting risks in conducting the crisis.

The President will select the Presidential Group that will assist him in directing a given crisis. This has invariably been true in the past and it is reasonable to assume that it will continue to be so in the future. Since the Presidential Group will include personal advisors, and statutory advisors and their subordinates, it will reflect military, political, diplomatic, intelligence and other such interests that might be relevant to the crisis. As a crisis develops, the composition of the Presidential Group will normally grow and alter.

So far the U.S. has experienced only a very few of the infinite number of crisis situations with which command and control support arrangements must be prepared to cope. Crisis situations, far more intense than any yet experienced, but nevertheless short of a large scale intercontinental nuclear exchange, are possible. These should be given more consideration in the development of U.S. command and control arrangements. For example, as indicated below, consideration of intense crises can have a significant impact on plans for presidential protection.

During a crisis the President and the Presidential Group will probably use mission-oriented interagency groups to assist them in estimating the present situation, and in developing and evaluating alternate courses of action. These groups may be asked to consider broad or narrow aspects of the crisis. The President and the Presidential Group expect that such support has melded military, political, domestic and diplomatic factors. Accordingly, the constitution of the Presidential Group and their need for staff support implies the need for interagency staffing before estimates and advice are advanced to the Presidential Group.

For severe crises, the composition and extent of the advisory staff support to the President will be uniquely determined at the time of the crisis by the nature of the crisis including such factors as timing, areas [Page 235] and participants, scope of conflict, the opportunity and the need for secrecy, escalatory potential, and diplomatic constraints. On the other hand, the routine information support capabilities needed to support these individuals are much more predictable. These capabilities include communications and message distribution, provision of factual data on force status and plans, routine staff support in implementing and promulgating decisions, conferencing and display facilities, and the staff which operates and provides these capabilities. Accordingly, it is desirable and feasible to separate conceptually and organizationally the problem of providing the advisory staff support from that of providing the routine information support. It is difficult to improvise information support during a crisis and it is possible to anticipate the requirements for this support before the crisis. The reverse is true for staff advisory support.

Presidential councils are informal and consultative in nature. The President receives his information support through his advisors and, accordingly, crisis management would not be enhanced by establishment at the national level of an elaborate “National Command Center” manned by a large, permanent interagency staff.

Many avenues are available that would improve interagency effectiveness in crisis anticipation and management. The following are recommended: increased attention at all levels of the Joint Staff with crisis management, freer interaction at all levels between members of the Joint Staff and their counterparts in other agencies, greater interagency review of military and political contingency plans, increased inter-agency participation in war gaming and exercising, and increased attention within the Joint Staff on nonmilitary factors affecting crisis anticipation and management.

Within the military establishment the concept of handling crises within command posts or operations centers is well established. The NMCC is similar to, but both narrower and broader in its scope than the conventional operations center. It is narrower in that its support to decision makers is rendered through the medium of their staff advisors, and ordinarily it does not itself provide advisory staff support except when an emergency does not permit referral to such advisors. It is broader in that the principal users of NMCC information support are not only the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff, but also various elements of OSD and authorized persons in the White House, State Department and CIA.

The NMCC performs the functions of (1) warning and alert, (2) information support, and (3) implementation. Its principal suppliers of information to the NMCC are the operating forces, the service operations centers, and the DIA through the Intelligence Support and Indications Center.

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The fundamental character of the NMCC is that of a DoD information support facility operated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the DoD as a whole. In the performance of its functions the NMCC should exchange information freely with analogous information centers elsewhere within the Government.

The management arrangements under which the NMCC operates should preserve its close working relationship with the Directorate for Operations in the Joint Staff and also should reflect its essentially informational character and DoD-wide scope.

Future development of the NMCC should emphasize evolutionary improvement as opposed to sweeping change. Such evolution will be helped by increased efforts to evaluate NMCC performances both in actual crises and in exercises. The establishment of suitable performance standards for the NMCC will also be helpful in its development.

Exercises of a variety of types and scope are necessary not only for the improvement of the NMCC but also to familiarize participating decision makers with its facilities and with command problems. For some of these exercises, senior members from all affected agencies and their staffs should participate.

At any stage of crisis or general nuclear war, enemy options range from a deliberate heavy attack against national command centers to strenuously avoiding these targets. In addition, there are a host of foreseeable and unforeseeable events that could lead to nuclear strikes on Washington or to Washington remaining completely undamaged. In providing for command and control support to the President, all of these contingencies must be considered. In providing survivability for the President, the worst cases must be planned for.

There are many factors militating against presidential relocation during crises short of general war. However, if the enemy decides to escalate a crisis to general war, he can easily destroy unprotected national centers without the President’s receiving tactical warning. If tactical warning of an attack is received, it is not clear that the President’s wisest course would be to seek immediate protection. Accordingly, capabilities should be provided for presidential protection in a highly survivable command center during any phase of crisis. This center must allow the President and the Presidential Group to manage intense crises short of general nuclear war as well as these can be managed from the White House.

The unique value of the President required that all possible measures be taken to insure his personal survival of an attack on the U.S. However, provision for a successor is also necessary. Accordingly, capabilities should allow relocation to a highly survivable center of an alternate Presidential Group headed by a presidentially designated alternate [Page 237] Commander-in-Chief. The command and control support for this alternate group could be much more austere than those for a relocated President.

It is important to recognize the national-level character of those alternates that might be used by the President or an Alternate Decision Group as contrasted with the DoD-level role of the NMCC.

A DUCC in Washington would be the only facility that could adequately satisfy the presidential needs for accessibility combined with survivability and adequate staff support. However, since a DUCC cannot be operational for at least five years, in the interim only the NECPA ship and a National Mobile Land Command Post (NMLCP) come close to approximating the requirements of: adequate staff support; high volume (not necessarily survivable) communications between the alternate and soft Washington centers; continuous operation for a period of days or weeks; and high survivability of the alternate itself. The NEACP falls short of meeting the first three criteria: the ANMCC fails on the last.

For the time period before a DUCC could be operational, the study developed the following three different configurations of alternates ranging from most austere to the most adequate:

Two functionally similar NECPA ships
Three NEACP aircraft, plus (a) above
An NMLCP with a staff capacity somewhat less than an NECPA, plus (b) above.

The Study recommends alternative (b) above. An NMLCP is not recommended unless greater emphasis is placed on providing flexible capabilities for presidential relocation during intense crises short of general war.

The JCS assisted by DCA and the Navy should conduct a study that develops plans for remedying the operational defects of the current two-ship NECPA element. This study should: i) detail the functional needs and criteria for support of the Presidential Group during intense crises and during the strategic exchange phase; ii) compare the costs and schedules of significantly improving the Northampton or obtaining a replacement hull; and, iii) consider operating concepts with the current or new ships.

The operational concept and support plans of the NECPA and the NEACP should be revised to provide for greater endurance, survivability and accessibility. For the NECPA, this planning should include increased protection from various forms of attack, larger and faster transportation capability between Washington and the ships, and operations closer to the Washington area during crises. For the NEACP, the planning should include use of aerial refueling, permanent dispersal of the aircraft, capability for post-strike use of several [Page 238] bases that have prelocated logistics and communications support, and plans for locating the aircraft closer to Washington during severe crises.

Because of its relatively low survivability, the ANMCC is not suited to use by the President or an Alternate Decision Group during an intense crisis or the initial stages of a general war. The AJCC should be continued with primarily the following functions: act as a potential reconstitution site in the follow-on phases of a general war; provide a dispersed back-up to Washington communications; and support other NMCS centers for day-to-day operations and crises. A detailed functional and technical analysis of the current and planned AJCC should be conducted in order to develop a better understanding of how particular capabilities and costs contribute to each of these functions. The study should indicate potential savings.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Department of Defense, Command and Control Support to the President, Box 20. Top Secret. The Introduction to the study indicates that it was prepared in response to a February 27, 1964, memorandum by Deputy Secretary of Defense Vance, which is included at the end of the study as Annex A. The Introduction also identifies Rear Admiral Paul P. Blackburn, Jr., Chief of the Joint Command and Control Requirements Group, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as chairman of the study; the other Defense members who prepared it; members of an advisory group and working group; and consultants (pp. i-iii).