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There are three types of DSN users:


A special class of user who has direct, unrestricted access to the DSN for essential communications and planning, and for directing and controlling the operations of assigned forces pursuant to assigned missions. This user requires capabilities that provide crisis, pre-attack, and theater non-nuclear war telecommunications service for intelligence, alert, and strategic readiness. This user also requires communications among the President, Secretary of Defense, JCS, Services Chiefs, and the Combatant Commanders. Specifically, these special C2 users are identified through one or more Joint Staff, Combatant Commander, Service, or agency validation process. Also, they are all RED switch subscribers and the following identified subscribers of common user networks:

  • Joint Staff-approved flash override, flash precedence origination capability

  • Combatant Commander- or Service-approved flash precedence origination capability

  • Combatant Commander-, Service-, or Agency-validated connectivity identified as part of C2 networks that support secondary (or lower) strategic connectivity missions

  • Combatant Commander-validated minimum essential circuits as approved in the Pacific Joint Multi-channel Trunking and
    Switching System and the European Theater Communications Architecture


Users having a requirement for C2 communications, but who do not meet the criteria for the class of special C2 users. C2 users include any person (regardless of their position in the chain of command) who issues guidance or orders that direct, control, or coordinate any military forces, regardless of the nature of the military mission, whether said guidance or order is issued or effected during peace or wartime.


Users of this class do not meet the criteria for special C2 users and C2 users. This class includes other elements, non-government agencies, and contractors with national security interests, and foreign government agencies with approved requirements to access the DSN. Users of this type, with exceptions, are generally limited to priority and routine access, depending on, Combatant Commander, Service, or agency approval, and the capabilities of the local switchboard. These users may also be denied access during national emergencies.