National Military Command Center

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 Department of the 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 missile launch control centers, nuclear submarines, recon aircraft , and battlefield commanders".[1]

The NMCC in 1976.


President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld walk from the Pentagon's National Military Command Center where they received operational briefings on March 23, 2003.

The NMCC has three main missions, all serving the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his role as the principal military advisor to both the Secretary of Defense and the President (also known as the National Command Authority).

The NMCC is responsible for generating Emergency Action Messages (EAMs) to missile launch control centers, nuclear submarines, recon aircraft, and battlefield commanders worldwide. It maintains the American end of the famous U.S.–Russia hotline (the so-called "red telephone").


The NMCC is operated by five teams on a rotating watch system. Each team typically has 17–20 personnel on duty performing a wide variety of functions including communications. Teams are led by a deputy director for operations (DDO) and an assistant deputy director for operations (ADDO), and are divided into five duty officer positions:[6] The DDO is typically a brigadier general or rear admiral (lower half), and the ADDO is typically a colonel or captain. In the event that the president convenes a conference with advisors to discuss options for launching a nuclear strike, the DDO would be a key participant in the meeting.[7]

  • Leadership (one DDO and one assistant deputy director for operations (ADDO))
  • Current Operations Section (two senior operations officers (SOO) and one current operations officer (COO))
  • Emergency Action Element (three senior emergency actions officers, EAO, EA NCO)
  • Surveillance (one Officer)
  • Supporting Sections (approximately 8–10 individuals)

The more than 300 people in the NMCC have responsibilities that are operational in nature. The NMCC is not funded through the Joint Staff, but by the Department of the Air Force; which as DoD Executive Agent provides logistical, budgetary, facility and systems support to the NMCC.[8]

The Joint Staff J-3 Command Systems Operations Division manages the operations of the information system facilities and maintains operational control of the Crisis Management Automated Data Processing System for the National Military Command Center.


The NMCC includes several war rooms, uses more than 300 operational personnel, and houses the United States side of the 1963 Moscow–Washington hotline which links the Pentagon and the Kremlin. Data into the NMCC includes the 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 the 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 established in the Pentagon ("operational early in 1948").[9]: 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".)[9]: 77 

1950 Air Force Command PostEdit

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.[9]: 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."[10] 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."[10]

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").[9]: 117  Alternate AFCP sites in 1951 were at Langley AFB (primary) and Maxwell AFB (secondary).[9]: 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".[9]: 119 

1953 JCS Pentagon annexEdit

At the Pentagon, an annex was established c. 1952–53 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff was "operated by the Air Force as an adjunct to the AFCP"[9]: 119  and received reports from Joint Coordination Centers in Buckinghamshire, England, and Pershing Heights, Tokyo.[9]: 55  ADC built a new Ent AFB blockhouse in 1954 and "in August 1955 OSD approved the 'automatic' activation of the [Raven Rock] AJCC on the declaration of air defense warning or notice of surprise attack.[11]

1956 Raven Rock annex
In July 1956 in the Pennsylvania bunker, a joint "War Room Annex was established" and was operated by the Air Force.[11] In 1955 the National Security Council designated the AFCP as the "national air defense warning center",[12] and Raven Rock's scope "was broadened in April 1957 [for] activation prior to emergency if JCS thought it necessary."[11]

In 1957 NORAD collocated command center operations in the 1954 ADC blockhouse (later into the 1963 Chidlaw Building and in 1966, Cheyenne Mountain Complex). On July 1, 1958, the AFCP was connected to NORAD's Alert Network Number 1, as 1 of 29 transmit/receive stations[13] (a differing "worldwide telephone system" was complete "from national authorities to unified commanders" by December 1958.)[11] Starting in August 1959 "with USAF assistance [the] JCS set up its own Joint War Room (JWR)" at the Pentagon.[11] In September 1960 at the Offutt AFB nuclear bunkers the "installation of a SAC display warning system" included 3 consoles in the Offutt AFB nuclear bunkers[14]: 218  (cf. 1958 Bare Mountain bunker.) On 20 October 1960, the JCS "instructed the Joint Staff to establish a Joint Alternate Command Element (JACE)" for rotating[specify] battle staffs to the AJCC for temporary duty.[11]

1960 Joint War RoomEdit

The Joint War Room (JWR) consoles became operational in November 1960 and on December 21,[11] the AFCP reverted to a USAF mission when its "joint and national responsibilities" ended.[15] 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".[14]: 232  The subsequent National Defense Communications Control Center (NDCCC) opened[where?] on March 6, 1961[16] as part of the National Communications System (NCS) framework "encompassing all federal assets"[17] including approximately "79 major relay stations scattered around the globe" (cf. the NORAD CMC's 427M NCS).[18]—the Final Report of the National Command and Control Task Force (Partridge Report) was completed on 14 November 1961.[19] After developmental cost overruns, "OSD in mid-1961 changed both the SAGE and SAC 465L programs to pre-battle systems [and instead] approved a Post-Attack Command Control System (PACCS) for SAC and a Backup Interceptor Control (BUIC) system for ADC and NORAD".[11] The Raven Rock JACE "was activated on 11 July 1961 under USAF Brig. Gen. Willard W. Smith [with the 5] staffs permanently stationed in Washington and an administrative section at Ft. Ritchie" (rotations began in October 1961),[11] and development of the USAF's "separate, austere Post-Attack Command and Control System (PACCS)" began in July 1961.[20]: 306 

1961 NCC Task ForceEdit

"The National Command and Control Task Force, headed by General Partridge, submitted its findings on 14 November 1961" (Partridge Report), which recommended "the Joint War Room become the National Military Command Center (NMCC)"—it was "to become the nerve center of a National Military Command System" with underground and mobile alternate command centers.[11]: 15  An 8 March 1962 JCCDG plan for a 220,000 sq ft (20,000 m2) addition to the JWR was too expensive, and the group postponed NMCC planning until WWMCCS planning was completed (a concept was complete in late March.)[11]: 15  On 2 June 1962 Secretary McNamara issued a memorandum directing that the NMCS be put into operation,[21] and a committee under the director of the Office of Emergency Planning recommended on 11 June 1962 that the NMCS include civilian executive departments for emergencies.[11]: 16  The JCS approved the NMCS plan on 19 June, and the Joint Command Control Requirements Group formed in June 1962 revised the plan which SECDEF approved in early July.[11] September refinements in the plan were approved by SECDEF on 17 October in DOD Directive S-5100.30, which conceived the WWMMCCS with five types of C2 systems with the NMCS to serve the president/SECDEF/JCS as the primary type of system and containing the NMCC, the ANMCC, 3 NEACP aircraft on 24-hour ground alert, 2 NECPA ships, "and interconnecting communications".[11]

1962 NMCCEdit

The NMCC was begun in early 1962[22] (opened early October)[23] 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[20]: 315  (the Pentagon's "Navy Flag Plot" coordinated the Cuban Missile Crisis blockade.)[20]: 312  The NMCC was initially considered an "interim" location until the Deep Underground Command Center (DUCC) could be completed below the Pentagon (never built). In December 1963 "SAC accepted the first 465L elements and began to send a limited flow of [data] traffic through them."[11] The NMCC had "direct communications with MACV headquarters in Saigon" during the Vietnam War.[24]

1972 upgradeEdit

The WWMCCS "ADP upgrade program" included 1972 computer installations (e.g., 2 COC "Data Net 355 computers")[18] 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.[20]: 317  In 1977, the NMCC was 1 of 6 initial sites of the WWMCCS Intercomputer Network (WIN) developed from a 1971–77 experimental program with testing and use by the JCS.[25] 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.[25] 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".[25]

In popular cultureEdit

  • The 1964 films Dr. Strangelove and Fail Safe both depict the Pentagon war room.
  • In The Sum of All Fears (2002), Jack Ryan (played by Ben Affleck) goes to the NMCC and convinces the DDO to get him on the US-Russian hotline, trying to stop an all-out nuclear confrontation between the two nuclear powers.
  • The 2007 Transformers film has a scene set in an imaginative representation of the National Military Command Center.
  • The Call of Duty: Black Ops zombies map "Five" begins in the war room of the Pentagon, appearing almost identical to the real-life counterpart.

See alsoEdit

External image
  floor plans & photos


  1. ^ a b "title tbd". Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  2. ^ "DoD Executive Agent". Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  3. ^ "'The Pentagon Goes to War': National Military Command Center".
  4. ^ "Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst".
  5. ^ "National Military Command Center Documents- NSA/CSS". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2013-06-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Merrill, Dave; Syeed, Nafeesa; Harris, Brittany (September 7, 2016). "To Launch a Nuclear Strike, President Trump Would Take These Steps". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  8. ^ "Executive Agent". Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Wainstein, L. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part One (1945-1953) (Report). Vol. Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. 1–138.
  10. ^ a b Schaffel, Kenneth (1991). Emerging Shield: The Air Force and the Evolution of Continental Air Defense 1945-1960 (45MB pdf). General Histories (Report). Office of Air Force History. p. 133. ISBN 0-912799-60-9. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Sturm, Thomas A. (August 1966) [declassified "6/05/05"]. The Air Force and The Worldwide Military Command and Control System: 1961–1965 (PDF) (Report). Retrieved 2014-05-15. By 1959, the services as well as JCS regarded Raven Rock as their primary emergency deployment center. For the Air Force, it served as Headquarters USAF Advanced, capable of receiving the Chief of Staff and key officers. … on 1 October 1962…the underground facility…formerly designated the Alternate Joint Communications Center (AJCC), was renamed the Altername National Military Command Center (ANMCC). The term AJCC remained in use but now applied only to the Army-managed communications complex at the ANMCC site.8 (quotation from p. 18)
  12. ^ 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. 70–71. (cited by Wainstein p. 119 footnote 14)
  13. ^ 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."
  14. ^ a b Moriarty, J. K. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part Two (1954-1960) (Report). Vol. Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. 139–266.
  15. ^ Sturm, Thomas A. (Summer 1969). Emergence of the Air Force Command and Control System. Aerospace Commentary (Report). Vol. 1:3. p. 42. (cited by Wainstein p. 119)
  16. ^ Irvin, William D (November 1961). "Defense Communications Agency, A Progress Report". Signal: 8. (Cited by Chapter 2)
  17. ^ Chapter 2: Defense Communications Agency and System (Report). Figure 11.
  18. ^ a b Chapter 2: Defense Communications Agency and System p. 19[full citation needed]
  19. ^ The World Wide Military Command and Control System evolution and effectiveness. DIANE Publishing. 2000. p. 36. ISBN 9781428990869. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  20. ^ a b c d Ponturo, J. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part Three (1961-1967) (Report). Vol. 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 Worldwide 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.
  21. ^ Dobbs, M. (2009). One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War. Vintage Books. p. 228. ISBN 9781400078912. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  22. ^ Wainstein, L.-Project Leader (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning, 1945-1972: Executive Summary (Report). Vol. Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. xi–xxviii.
  23. ^ Vogel, S. (2008). The Pentagon: A History. Random House Publishing Group. p. 362. ISBN 9781588367013. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  24. ^ Ellsberg, D. (2002). Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 68. ISBN 9781101191316. Retrieved 2015-02-11.
  25. ^ a b c Modernization of the WWMCCS Information System (WIS) (PDF) (Report). Vol. AdA095409. Armed Services Committee, US House of Representatives. 19 January 1981. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 24, 2013. 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)

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 38°52′16″N 77°03′20″W / 38.87111°N 77.05556°W / 38.87111; -77.05556