In another installment of NC3 profiles, we take a look at a topic that has received very little attention, but is one that demands careful consideration. The combination of the organizational dynamics of Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) and the behavioral traits of violent non-state actors. The inherent aspects of these dynamics introduce complexities surrounding violent non-state actors (VNSA) NC3 postures.
In this essay, Dr. Gary Ackerman introduces how violent non-state actors (VSNAs) may approach the command and control of nuclear weapons. He suggests that understanding the complexity presented by VNSA NC3 entails considering “traditional concepts of state NC3 (such as the always/never dilemma) and dynamics that are unique to non-state actors driven by a variety of goals and confronting a different set of constraints from those of states.” He concludes that: “it is possible to derive preliminary indications of likely NC3 postures on the part of VNSAs".
Dr. Gary Ackerman is an associate professor in the College of Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness and Cybersecurity of the University at Albany. His research is centered on the motivations and capabilities for non-state actors to acquire and use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.
Ackerman is the founding director of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). His previous positions have included the director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Research Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. Ackerman has testified on terrorist motivations for using nuclear weapons before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.
Ackerman received his M.A. in International Relations from Yale University and completed his PhD in war studies at King’s College in London, which dealt with the impact of emerging technologies on terrorist decisions relating to weapons adoption.