DOD enhances nuke planning

The U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom), the senior Defense Department agency responsible for overseeing the nation's nuclear arsenal, this month awarded a $147 million contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. to bring the United States' nuclear planning capabilities closer to the demands of the post-Cold War environment.

Under the Computing Environment Stratcom Architecture (Cesar), Lockheed Martin Mission Systems will enhance Stratcom's aging Strategic War Planning System (SWPS) to better support the nuclear war planning efforts of DOD's regional commanders in chief.

SWPS is an umbrella term used to describe all the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems used to develop, maintain and disseminate strategic nuclear war plans.

Stratcom's nuclear targeting and plans updates are done on an annual basis, which may not be dynamic enough to meet the challenges of the future, according to Terry Drabant, president of Lockheed Martin Mission Systems. "Stratcom needs to update its systems to [operate in a] real-time [computing environment] and improve the decision cycle," Drabant said. Even a one-target update "would have to be [done] fairly quickly," he said.

SWPS encompasses the Triad Computer System— which is used for the command and control of intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic bombers and submarines— the Global Command and Control System and various mission-planning systems, such as the Strategic Mission Data Preparation System. More than 5,000 pieces of equipment involved in SWPS are maintained at six bases throughout the country.

According to a 1996 Stratcom planning document outlining the development vision for SWPS, Cesar will reduce planning time lines by 66 percent, eliminate redundant databases, enforce adherence to data standards and reduce overall operating costs.

In particular, Cesar is aimed at changing the way Stratcom moves and shares command, control and intelligence information and is focused on enhancing the command's ability to support DOD's distributed regional commanders, such as the U.S. European Command.

According to Col. Joseph D. Rouge, assistant program director for all of Stratcom's acquisition programs, Cesar will integrate commercial and government-developed applications into a more efficient architecture.

"The overwhelming bulk of [DOD's] nuclear planning capability is resident at Stratcom," Rouge said. Cesar will enable the planning staffs of the regional commanders "to [remotely] access our planning and execution support cells" located at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Whit Ludington, director of business development for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, said Stratcom has a critical need for its systems to be "more interoperable [and] more integrated" so that the command can respond to global crises in a more effective and efficient manner.

"The world is very different today" than it was at the height of the Cold War, Ludington said. Therefore, the question that Cesar intends to answer is "how fast can you generate a new target and how fast can you select a new target from an [updated] target list?" he said.

John Pike, a defense and intelligence analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, said Cesar sounds like a good idea, given the fact that nuclear deterrence remains one of the key pillars of the U.S. national military strategy. "Some of [Stratcom's information technology] is starting to get rather long in the tooth, [but] as long as we are going to be spending $30-plus billion each year on nuclear weapons, Cesar is probably one of the more sensible things to fund," Pike said.

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