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The National Military Command Center (NMCC)[1] is a Pentagon command and communications center for the National Command Authority (i.e., the President of the United States and the United States Secretary of Defense). Maintained by the United States Air Force as the "DoD Executive Agent" for NMCC logistical, budgetary, facility and systems support;[2] the NMCC operators are in the Joint Staff's J-3 (Operations) Directorate.[citation needed] "The NMCC is responsible for generating Emergency Action Messages (EAMs) to launch control centers, nuclear submarines, recon aircraft and battlefield commanders".[1]


The NMCC includes several war rooms, uses more than 300 operational personnel, and has the U.S. end[Clarification needed] of the 1963 Moscow–Washington hotline. Data into the NMCC includes warning "on the size, origin, and targeting of an attack" (e.g., from the NORAD/NORTHCOM Command Center). The NMCC's Crisis Management Automated Data Processing Systems are under control of the J-3 Command Systems Operations Division.[citation needed]


World War II Pentagon construction allowed a central military installation for the Navy and War Departments to communicate with theater commands, and CONUS air defense was based on warning data compiled by local Aircraft Warning Corps information centers for processing GOC observations and radar tracks to coordinate ground-controlled interception (cf. Battle of Los Angeles). As requested by Gen. Spaatz, a fall 1947[verification needed] AAF "war room" was establishment in the Pentagon ("operational early in 1948").[3]:117 Strategic Air Command began using the telephonic Army Command and Administrative Net (ACAN) in 1946 until switching to the 1949 USAF AIRCOMNET "command teletype network" (the independent Strategic Operational Control System (SOCS) with telephones and teletype was "fully installed by 1 May 1950".)[3]:77

1950 Air Force Command Post[]

The Air Force Command Post (AFCP) was "hastily set up" on June 25, 1950, to replace the 1948 war room when the Korean War began.[3]:117 On the Pentagon's floor, the AFCP served "as a reception point for radio messages between [General] Vandenberg and his FEAF commanders during Air Staff after-duty hours."[4] After a direct telephone line was installed in mid-July 1950 between CONAC headquarters and the 26th Air Division HQ[where?] ("the beginning of the Air Force air raid warning system"); in August "President Truman had a direct telephone line installed between the Air Force Pentagon post and the White House."[4]

Moved to a "more permanent" Pentagon facility in early 1951, the 2nd AFCP location had "a communications center [and] war room, which prepared status displays" (an "Emergency Air Staff Actions Office [was] incorporated into the command post early in 1952").[3]:117 Alternate AFCP sites in 1951 were at Langley AFB (primary) and Maxwell AFB (secondary).[3]:119 Radar tracks from the 1952 Permanent System radar stations relayed to the Air Defense Command command center at Ent AFB, Colorado, would be assessed; and suspicion or confirmation of attack would be relayed to the AFCP and SAC headquarters. The "Pentagon would pass the warning to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the JCS"; and the SOCS allowed "relay [of] their orders to the combat forces".[3]:119

1953 JCS annex[]

An annex established c. 1952-3 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff was "operated by the Air Force as an adjunct to the AFCP"[3]:119 and received reports from Joint Coordination Centers in Buckinghamshire, England, and Pershing Heights, Tokyo.[3]:55 After ADC built a new Ent AFB blockhouse in 1954, the 1957 NORAD collocated operations in the Ent command center (later into the 1963 Chidlaw Building and in 1966, Cheyenne Mountain). In 1955 the National Security Council designated the AFCP as the "national air defense warning center",[5] and planning for the end of the decade was for expanded SAC command and control. The GOR for the Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS, Electronic Systems Division 465L System) was published on February 11, 1958;[6]:175 SAC's QOR for the National Survivable Communications System (NSCS) was issued September 13, 1958;[6]:175 and in September 1960 the "installation of a SAC display warning system" included 3 consoles in SAC's underground center at Offutt AFB[6]:218 (cf. 1958 Bare Mountain bunker.) The AFCP was connected to the Alert Network Number 1 on July 1, 1958, as 1 of 29 transmit/receive stations.[7]

1960 Joint War Room[]

The Joint War Room (JWR) activated in 1960 had been started in August 1959 during the SAGE deployment (in December 1960, the AFCP reverted to a USAF mission when its "joint and national responsibilities" ended.)[8] The September 1960 Winter Study Group and the October 1960 WSEG Report 50 recommended "interlocking the various fixed command posts" into a "coupled command system" with mobile centers and a "bomb alarm system".[6]:232 The subsequent National Defense Communications Control Center (NDCCC) opened[where?] on March 6, 1961[9] as part of the National Communications System (NCS) framework "encompassing all federal assets"[10] including approximately "79 major relay stations scattered around the globe" (cf. the NORAD CMC's 427M NCS).[11] (the Final Report of the National Command and Control Task Force (Partridge Report) "was completed on 14 November 1961.)[12] Development of the USAF's "separate, austere Post-Attack Command and Control System (PACCS)" began in July 1961[13]:306 and in 1962, "the SACCS was expanded to become" the Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS).[14]

"Deep Underground National Command Center"[15]

The Deep Underground Command Center (DUCC) proposed by January 31, 1962, was to be excavated "3,000-4,000 feet down" with ~1.6 acres (0.65 ha) "located underground between the Mall and River entrances of the Pentagon"[13] which are tbd feet above the mean Potomac waterline. Based on SAC's Deep Underground Support Center planned near the Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker, the DUCC plan was recommended to President John F. Kennedy for fiscal year 1965 funding shortly before his assassination,[13] but the underground DUCC, SAC's DUSC, and NORAD's SCCs were never built.

(The 1953 Site R was "hardened further to about 140 psi blast resistance by 1963", NORAD's Canadian bunker was completed in 1963, and NORAD Combat Operations Center & Space Defense Center in the Colorado bunker became operational in 1966.)

1962 NMCC[]

The NMCC was begun in early 1962[16] (opened early October)[17] when the JCS area with the Joint War Room was expanded from ~7,000 sq ft (650 m2) to ~21,000 sq ft (2,000 m2) by 1965[13]:315 (the Pentagon's "Navy Flag Plot" coordinated the Cuban Missile Crisis blockade.)[13]:312 The NMCC was initially considered an "interim" location until the Deep Underground Command Center (DUCC) could be completed below the Pentagon (never built). The NMCC had "direct communications with MACV headquarters in Saigon" during the Vietnam War.[18]

1972 upgrade[]

The WWMCCS "ADP upgrade program" included 1972 computer installations (e.g., 2 COC "Data Net 355 computers")[11] and c. mid-1972, additional NMCC expansion enlarged it to ~30,000 sq ft (2,800 m2) and included the Joint Operational Reporting (JOPREP) system.[13]:317 In 1977, the NMCC was 1 of 6 initial sites of the WWMCCS Intercomputer Network (WIN) developed from a 1971-7 experimental program with testing and use by the JCS.[19] The Command Center Processing and Display System (CCPDS) replaced NMCC UNIVAC 1106 computers c. 1977 with "dedicated UNIVAC 1100/42 computers" for console and large screen displays.[19] By 1981 as part of the WWMCCS Information System (WIS), the NMCC received data "directly from the Satellite Early Warning System (SEWS) and directly from the PAVE PAWS sensor systems".[19]

The NMCC at 38°52′16″N 77°03′20″W / 38.87111°N 77.05556°W / 38.87111; -77.05556 (Pentagon NMCC)[citation needed]Coordinates: 38°52′16″N 77°03′20″W / 38.87111°N 77.05556°W / 38.87111; -77.05556 (Pentagon NMCC)[citation needed] (tbd side of the Pentagon) coordinated responses[specify]

to the 2001 September 11 attacks[20] (AA Flt 77 struck the west side) and other events.  By 2008, the NMCC had the NMCC Alert Center for intelligence fusion in the National Operations and Intelligence Watch Officer Network.[21]

Cultural references[]

  • Movies portraying the Pentagon war room include the 1964 film and 1964 Dr. Strangelove ("Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!".)
External images
floor plans & photos


  1. 1.0 1.1 "title tbd". Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Wainstein, L. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part One (1945-1953) (Report). Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. 1–138. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Schaffel, Kenneth (1991). "Emerging Shield: The Air Force and the Evolution of Continental Air Defense 1945-1960" (45MB pdf). General Histories (Office of Air Force History): 133. ISBN 0-912799-60-9. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  5. Sturm, Thomas A. (August 1966). The Air Force and the Worldwide Military Command and Control System, 1961-1965 (Report). Historical Division Liaison Office, US Air Force. pp. 70–1.  (cited by Wainstein p. 119 footnote 14)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Moriarty, J. K. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part Two (1954-1960) (Report). Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. 139–266. 
  7. Preface by Buss, L. H. (Director) (1 October 1958). North American Air Defense Command Historical Summary: January–June 1958 (Report). Directorate of Command History: Office of Information Services.  Directorate of Command History "ALERT NETWORK NUMBER 1 On 1 July 1958, a new Alert # 1 network was placed in opera­tion (the old network was to remain in operation as a back-up until 1 August 1958). The new network connected NORAD on 1 July 1958 with 33 Stations that required air defense alert and warning information. This included such agencies as major commands, air divisions, regions, and the USAF Command Post. Only 29 of the stations operating on 1 July were both transmit and receive stations, the other four (TAC Headquarters, Sandia Base, ADCC (Blue Ridge Summit), and the Presidio at San Francisco) were receive-only stations. …the new system…gave NORAD the abil­ity to tell which station received its alert messages and which did not. The new system also had two master stations -- NORAD and the ALCOP at Richards-Gebaur AFB. This feature permitted the ALCOP to continue operations of the network and carry on with the alert procedures should NORAD become a war casualty."
  8. Sturm, Thomas A. (Summer 1969). "Emergence of the Air Force Command and Control System". Aerospace Commentary Volume 1:3: 42.  (cited by Wainstein p. 119)
  9. Irvin, William D (November 1961). "Defense Communications Agency, A Progress Report". p. 8.  (Cited by Chapter 2)
  10. Chapter 2: Defense Communications Agency and System (Report). Figure 11. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Chapter 2: Defense Communications Agency and System p. 19[full citation needed]
  12. On 2 June 1962 Secretary McNamara issued a memorandum directing that the NMCS be put into operation. [1]
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Ponturo, J. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part Three (1961-1967) (Report). Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. 267–370. "In February [1962], the Secretary of Defense approved a National Military Command System (NMCS) composed of four major elements: the National Military Command Center (NMCC), an evolution of the JCS Joint War Room; the Alternate National Military Command Center (ANMCC), a redesignation of the JCS installation at the AJCC; and two mobile alternates, the NECPA and the NEACP.18 The following October he issued a DoD directive on the World-Wide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) that outlined the NMCS in detail, to include the NMCC, ANMCC, NECPA, NEACP, and such other alternates as might be established, together with their interconnecting communications; and defined their relationship to the command and control "subsystems" of the service headquarters, the CINCs, and other DoD agencies.19 … The fixed underground ANMCC would be phased out as superfluous, whichever version [50-man or 300-man DUCC] was chosen, and the other NMCS facilities would be cut back to some degree according to one or the other." 
  14. (Google Books) The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America. "SAGE—Air Force project 416L—became the pattern for at least twenty-five other major military command-control systems… These were the so-called "Big L" systems [and] included 425L, the NORAD system; 438L, the Air Force Intelligence Data Handling System; and 474L, the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS). … Project 465L, the SAC Control System (SACCS) [with] over a million lines, reached four times the size of the SAGE code and consumed 1,400 man-years of programming; SDC invented a major computer language, JOVIAL, specifically for this project." 
  15. Wainstein footnote 8: (U) Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense "Deep Underground National Command Center" (U), 31 January 1962, SECRET.
    Wainstein footnote 12: (U) Deputy Secretary of Defense, Memorandum for DDR&E, "Deep Underground National Command Center" (U), 5 February 1962, TOP SECRET; Secretary of Defense, Draft Memorandum for the President, "National Deep Underground Command Post" (U), 7 November 1963, TOP SECRET.
  16. Wainstein, L.-Project Leader (June 1975: declassified September 1992). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning, 1945-1972: Executive Summary (Report). Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. xi-xxviii. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Modernization of the WWMCCS Information System (WIS) (Report). AdA095409. Armed Services Committee, US House of Representatives. 19 January 1981. Retrieved 2012-08-29. "Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS), is the nucleus of a dynamic and evolving WWMCCS Information System which serves the National Command Authorities and key military commanders across a broad spectrum of planning and operational activities from day-to-day and crisis operations to conventional and nuclear war. The use of this information system, involving 83 Honeywell 6000-series CPUs at 26 sites. … Command Center Processing and Display System (CCPDS) This system consists of dedicated UNIVAC 1100/42 computers, software, display control elements, consoles and associated system support hardware at NORAD, SAC, the National Military Command Center (NMCC), and the Alternate National Military Command Center (ANMCC). Currently, data is received at each of the four CCPDS sites directly from the Satellite Early Warning System (SEWS) and directly from the PAVE PAWS sensor systems. The NMCC, ANMCC, and SAC also receive data indirectly from the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), Sea-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) Detection and Warning System, COBRA DANE, and the Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System (PARCS) as well as SEWS and PAVE PAWS data by way of NORAD. In 1977, HQ USAF approved the acquisition of UNIVAC 1100/42s to replace the original UNIVAC 1106s at the four CCPDS sites as a means of satisfying the increased processing requirements generated by additional and improved warning systems."  (pdf p. 64)

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