Strategic Command Boss’s Computer Screens Go Dark When Foreign Missile Is Launched

It’s no secret that we at The War Zone take a heavy interest in America’s strategic command and control and continuity of government architecture, so whenever we get a new look into a particular aspect of that ecosystem we think it’s well worth sharing. CNN’s Barbara Starr seems to agree as she recently went inside Strategic Command’s “battle deck” command bunker at Offutt AFB—maybe the most likely spot in American where the end of the world as we know it would begin. 

You may be surprised by the fact that it looks more like a telecom company’s headquarters than something out of Dr. Strangelove, but don’t let its looks deceive you, the decisions made in this facility can result in mankind’s extinction.

In the report we get some unique insights from Strategic Command’s head honcho and notorious straight shooter General John Hyten on what it’s like when a foreign missile launch is detected. Quite frankly it sounds like that episode from The Office where there is one app that instantly sends a single message to every peripheral and social media account you have. In Hyten’s case, the six monitors in his office go black, an alarm rings, subordinates message him and so on, prompting him to rush down to the command and control bunker to assess the situation.

If need be he would quickly be on the phone with the National Command Authority, including the President and the Secretary of Defense, to order a counter-strike before an enemy attack arrived—a task that may need to occur in less time than it would take to watch an episode of Seinfeld without the commercials. 

During Starr’s visit to the Omaha base, a real-world launch was detected—almost certainly by the USAF’s space-based infrared early warning satellite constellation—with those missiles likely being of Russian origin and fired into Syria. 

As for Putin’s widely publicized push to develop and field new strategic weapons, such as hypersonic boosted glide vehicles and nuclear-powered cruise missiles, the general stated: 

“We have very good intelligence capabilities, and we watch very closely, so nothing he said surprised me.”

Hyten, whose greatest fear is that the U.S. has forgotten how to go fast developmentally speaking, also shared those concerns with Starr, stating:

“We have always been ahead of the world when it comes to those critical technologies, and we are today and everyone should know that… The question is 10 years from now will we still be ahead, and that’s what I am concerned about.”

We even get to see the small safe that houses the same menu of launch options that the President has to work with in the nuclear football that follows him wherever he goes. But the general underlines that his business is all about deterrence, telling CNN:

“If someone launches a nuclear weapon against us we launch one back… They launch another we launch another, they launch two and we launch two. You are on this escalation ladder that ends up nowhere. The key is to stop that behavior before it gets bad.”

Make sure you watch CNN’s full report linked here.

Another video that’s worth watching while we are on the subject of nuclear deterrence and the strategic apparatus that supports it is this one from PBS. It is similar to a recent 60 Minutes report, but it goes a bit further, taking you onboard a B-52H, inside a boomer and into a Minuteman III ICBM launch control station. While there isn’t much new here that we don’t talk about regularly, the footage is worthwhile watching:

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