Millennium Post

Forces’ chiefs in complete knowledge of nuclear arsenal functioning

Contrary to popular belief that the armed forces in India – the end users – have little knowledge about country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, sources who had connections with Integrated Defence Services (IDS) headquarters say the chiefs of three services are fully involved with the decision-making and execution process.

In the command chain of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and the targetting process — if not the philosophy – the services are involved at the level of the Executive Council (EC) and the Political Council (PC).

The PC consists of the prime minister, the other members of the cabinet committee of security (CCS) members, the scientific adviser to the prime minister, the chairman, chiefs of staff committee (COSC), the national security adviser (NSA), and the two other service chiefs, besides the commander-in-chief of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), defence secretary and the scientific adviser to the defence minster. Cabinet secretary is the member-secretary of the committee.
The EC consists of the scientific adviser to the prime minister, the NSA, chairman COSC, and the commander-in-chief, SFC. The committee handles the primary function of targetting, decisions about mating the separate nuclear warheads and the delivery systems like missiles, early warning systems that are integrated with the overall air defence systems, issues about survivability and nurturing the nuclear triad (aircraft, missiles and submarines).

On a daily basis the SFC troops carry out training, updation of data, practicing with the delivery systems, and their familiarisation (as in user trials).

While intelligence gathering is important, the entire ISR exercise is handled by multi-agency, multi-body system with tasking for National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), Aviation Research Centre (ARC) among others.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) works in tandem with the SFC in terms of the technical handling of the nuclear weapons. It helps maintaining the ‘recessed’ nature of the Indian nuclear deterrence capability – thus mating and de-mating the nuclear weapons – also does the operations analyses, as the targetting nature changes with the analyses.
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