Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

National Command Authority

The term National Command Authority is used in U.S. military and government circles to refer to the ultimate lawful source of military orders, nominally the President of the United States (who, in the same U.S. Government jargon, is known as "POTUS").

The use of the term dates from the Cold War era in which the United States and Soviet Union had nuclear missiles on constant alert and a responsible official had to be available to authorize a retaliatory strike within a matter of minutes. Detailed Continuity of Government plans provided for monitoring the whereabouts of certain key Government officials who would become the National Command Authority if the President were himself victim of an enemy attack.