Indian Nuclear command and control dilemma
Boger, Dan C.
Lavoy, Peter R.
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The aim of the thesis is to analyze India's nuclear weapons command and control system as it has evolved since the nation's 1998 nuclear weapons tests. The small size of India's nuclear weapons arsenal does not imply that its command and control structure is simple. It requires the same infrastructure, capabilities, and operating systems possessed by countries with larger arsenals of nuclear weapons, though perhaps on a smaller scale. A small arsenal is easier to control than a large one, but it is still vulnerable to attack, and hence the issue of command and control becomes more complex. India's No-First-Use (NFU) policy states that its nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere. India's NFU policy makes the command and control of its nuclear weapons look simple, affordable, and easy to implement, but this policy must be examined through the prism of peacetime, crisis, and wartime situations. The smooth transition from peacetime to crisis and, if required, to wartime demands a robust command and control system. This thesis examines the requirements of such a system and provides recommendations for a command and control structure for Indian nuclear operations. The thesis investigates the U.S. command and control system and uses it as a model for a suitable option for India. While NFU has many challenges, it can be effective, provided that India adopts an operational capability of Launch After Attack (LAA), which would require a significant upgrade of command and control structure and procedures. In particular, the thesis demonstrates the role that civilians and military personnel can play to strengthen "minimum credible deterrence" within the established financial, political, and strategic parameters of India.
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