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Emergency Action Message

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Title: Emergency Action Message  
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Subject: AN/DRC-8 Emergency Rocket Communications System, Nuclear warfare, Nuclear War, Permissive Action Link, Intercontinental ballistic missile
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Emergency Action Message

In the U.S. military's strategic nuclear weapon command and control system, an Emergency Action Message (EAM) is a preformatted message that directs nuclear-capable forces[1] to execute specific Major Attack Options (MAOs) or Limited Attack Options (LAOs) in a nuclear war. Individual countries or specific regions may be included or withheld in the EAM, as specified in the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP).[2]

EAMs utilise cryptographic protocols (including such methods as digital signatures) to authenticate the messages,[1] thereby ensuring that they cannot be forged or altered.

In the United States, the EAM will be issued from the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon or, if it has been destroyed by an enemy first strike, by the Alternate National Military Command Center - Site R at Raven Rock or by the Boeing E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC).

The messages are sent in digital format to nuclear-capable major commands via the secure Automatic Digital Network (AUTODIN). The messages are then relayed to aircraft that are on alert by the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, via single-sideband modulation radio transmitters of the High Frequency Global Communications System (formerly known as the Global High Frequency Service). The EAM is relayed to missile-firing nuclear submarines via special transmitters designed for communication with submarines. The transmitters include those designed to operate at Very Low Frequency (VLF). The submarines pick up the message via special antennas. Nuclear-capable forces will then be expected to carry out an EAM without fail. Manned bombers may be recalled, but missiles fired from land-based silos or from submarines cannot be recalled.

In popular culture

The EAM system was featured extensively and used as one of the primary plot devices in the feature film Crimson Tide.


  1. ^ a b "EAMs and HF-GCS". Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  2. ^ "JITC EAM OT&E SUPPORT". Retrieved 2007-11-24. 

Further reading

  • "The HF-GCS". 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  • Haverlah, Jeff (2005). "What is an EAM?". Worldwide Ute News Club (WUN). Retrieved 2013-12-28. 
  • "Emergency Action Procedures of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Nuclear Control Orders (U), EAP-JCS Volume V" (PDF). Washington, DC: Joint Chiefs of Staff. 1985. Retrieved 2013-12-28.  (FOIA Release, February 1986)
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