from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2019, Issue No. 18
April 24, 2019

Secrecy News Blog:


The US Air Force last week updated its guidance on the command and control of nuclear weapons to include protection against electromagnetic pulse and cyber attack, among other changes. See Air Force Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3), Air Force Instruction 13-550, April 16, 2019.

"This is a complete revision to the previous version of this instruction," the new guidance states. "It revises the command relationships, roles and responsibilities, the governance structure, and addresses resourcing, architecture and configuration management, resilience, and assessments."

"Resilience" here pertains particularly to "two of the most broadly applied challenges: hardening against the effects of electromagnetic pulse and threats in the cyberspace domain." These topics were scarcely mentioned at all in the previous version of the Air Force Instruction that was issued in 2014, nor did the term resilience appear in the earlier document.

Several new classified directives on nuclear command and control have been issued in recent years (such as Presidential Policy Directive-35 and others) and their content is reflected at least indirectly and in part in the new unclassified USAF guidance.

A broader modernization of the nation's entire nuclear command, control and communications system is underway at U.S. Strategic Command, costing a projected $77 billion over the coming decade. See "STRATCOM to design blueprint for nuclear command, control and communications" by Sandra Erwin, Space News, March 29, 2019.


Noteworthy new publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Defense Primer: Electronic Warfare, CRS In Focus, updated April 12, 2019:

U.S. Military Electronic Warfare Research and Development: Recent Funding Projections, CRS Insight, April 15, 2019:

Assessing Commercial Disclosure Requirements under the First Amendment, April 23, 2019:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH): Background and Congressional Issues, updated April 19, 2019:

The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape, April 18, 2019:

Selected Homeland Security Issues in the 116th Congress, April 23, 2019:

Can the President Close the Border? Relevant Laws and Considerations, CRS Legal Sidebar, April 12, 2019:

Central American Migration: Root Causes and U.S. Policy, CRS In Focus, March 27, 2019:

Cooperative Security in the Middle East: History and Prospects, CRS In Focus, updated April 11, 2019:

International Criminal Court: U.S. Response to Examination of Atrocity Crimes in Afghanistan, CRS Insight, updated April 16, 2019:

Nuclear Cooperation: Part 810 Authorizations, CRS In Focus, April 18, 2019:

U.S. War Costs, Casualties, and Personnel Levels Since 9/11, CRS In Focus, April 18, 2019:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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