DEAD HAND & MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION
In the world of nuclear defence postures, there exists a doctrine known as M.A.D, or “Mutually Assured Destruction.” The rationale behind M.A.D is that each nuclear-armed opponent dares not attack the other because the consequences would be the mutual destruction of each party.
This creates a bizarre paradox whereby nuclear weapons simultaneously are necessary, yet unneeded.
But in the depths of the minds of those whose sole job is to plan, scheme, and counter scheme, it appears the Russians have found a solution to this paradox.
And it does not bode well for anyone.
THE RUSSIAN DEAD HAND
As far as public knowledge is concerned, the world has come to the brink of nuclear war at least twice. But by extension and due to the secrecy surrounding the nature of these weapons, it is likely more than twice.
In any event, if missiles do launch and by a stroke of luck Russian leadership and their ability to respond is destroyed, the Russian system known internally as “Perimeter” will be triggered. Otherwise known as “Dead Hand.”
The idea was to send a couple of Soviet officers to sit in an underground redoubt to monitor increased alert levels and rising tensions. They would monitor the system and if instructed, would activate it.
If someone launched a pre-emptive nuclear strike that resulted in the decapitation of Soviet political leadership, the Dead Hand would automatically order the release of what was left of the Strategic Rocket Forces.
The system looks for flash, radiation, atmospheric overpressure, and seismic readings. If the criteria are met, Perimeter knows that Russia has been attacked and launches a nuclear missile.
The idea among the Soviet staff was that a General Secretary, or the national leader, might be overwhelmed by incoming and incomplete/conflicting information during a crisis. Or perhaps be overcome by a moral conflict. The government could simply turn on the Dead Hand and allow it to make the final decision – even if everyone in the chain of command was dead.
When activated, the Dead Hand launches a single command rocket. When at altitude, it broadcasts the launch codes to missiles located across (then) the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation.
NUCLEAR WAR PREPARATION
Russia maintains a mixture of missile silos, train launched missiles and ever roaming mobile launchers. The system is said to have been upgraded to include Russia’s new arsenal of hypersonic Tsirkon missiles.
Officially the system was never acknowledged by the Soviet Union until 2011. When General Sergey Karakev of the Russian Strategic Missile Force confirmed its existence to a Russian newspaper.
Given the global tensions present at this time, and the fact that Vladimir Putin has had his nuclear forces on high alert since 27th February, it is by no means a stretch of the imagination to think that the Perimeter system may be on standby.
Interestingly, on March 17th at approximately 4.30 pm AWST, Twitter user Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) posted a flight path map showing a large number of Russian air force jets flying to and from the known Russian nuclear bunkers.
Identified as belonging to high ranking Russian officials, these jets have been flying to and from Kosvinsky Kamen in the Northern Ural Mountains, and Mount Yamantau in the Southern Ural Mountains.
So let us hope cooler heads prevail. As there are no winners and no losers in a nuclear war – just destruction.