Air Force Global Strike Command stood up a new organization to oversee the Air Force’s nuclear command, control and communications systems in an activation ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana April 3, 2017.
The Air Force Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Center streamlines the management of approximately 62 different systems and forms a single NC3 point of contact and advocate for the entire Air Force. The staff at the center provides technical and operational support to maintain the health and readiness of communication links between national leadership and the nuclear warfighters. In addition, the center provides the president the ability to communicate swiftly with the nuclear force in all conditions, ensuring both a flexible and responsive nuclear deterrent for the 21st century.
“NC3 is important for our nation, because it’s really the National Command and Control System. It’s a world-wide system-of-systems used by the president, secretary of defense and other leaders,” said Gen. Robin Rand, the AFGSC commander.
The NC3 weapon system includes 62 systems owned by AFGSC and other major commands on 12 configuration elements (bombers, launch control centers, wing command posts, unified command centers, Air Force One and the executive aircraft fleet, tankers, mobile support teams, satellites, radios and antennas).
“It doesn’t take much imagination to realize why Nuclear Command, Control and Communications is important,” said Col. Mark Jablow, who assumed command of the NC3 Center during the ceremony. “As the means by which national leadership have a secure, survivable and resilient communications path to issue nuclear orders to the warfighters. The Air Force is responsible for about 70 percent of the nation’s NC3 systems, and we now have this center to serve as a focal point for maintenance, sustainment and modernization of those systems.”
In 2015, the secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force chief of staff, through the Air Force’s Nuclear Oversight Board decided that realigning NC3 under a single command was the best way forward for its nuclear enterprise. Because of its global nuclear deterrent mission, AFGSC was designated as the Air Force lead for NC3.
Rand said this was not only a benefit for the command, it was a benefit to the community, as the Air Force allocated approximately 235 new jobs at Barksdale Air Force Base for the center, including active-duty military, civilian and contractor positions, many of whom were hired from the local area.
“We had to get good people to come and do this mission – so we’re going to partner with universities in the area, we’re going to partner with industry in the area, we’re going to have to learn to be innovative and improve some of these legacy systems,” Rand said. “We’re going to have put rigor back into sustainment and modernization for nuclear command, control and communications.”
By Carla Pampe, Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs