Continuity of government

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Continuity of government (COG) is the principle of establishing defined procedures that allow a government to continue its essential operations in case of nuclear war or other catastrophic event.

COG was developed by the British government before and during World War II to counter the threat of Luftwaffe bombing during the Battle of Britain. The need for continuity-of-government plans gained new urgency with nuclear proliferation.

Countries during the Cold War and afterwards developed such plans to avoid (or minimize) confusion and disorder due to a power vacuum in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.

In the US at least, COG is no longer limited to nuclear emergencies; the Continuity of Operations Plan was activated following the September 11 attacks.

By country[edit]


Canada built numerous nuclear bunkers across the country, nicknamed "Diefenbunkers" in a play on the last name of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's government which was in power at the time.

China/People's Republic of China[edit]

In a tunnel of Project 131

The People's Republic of China (PRC) once operated Underground Project 131, intended to be the PLA headquarters in Hubei during a nuclear conflict. Built due to the Sino-Soviet split during that portion of the Cold War, in 1981, the Project 131 site was turned over to the civilian authorities of the prefecture-level city of Xianning, where it is located.

Czech Republic[edit]

The K-116 facility under Zlíchov hill in western Prague was designated to house the Czechoslovak government in case of nuclear attack (together with the K-9 facility in Jihlava) and might still be used as the emergency headquarters of the Czech government and military.[1]


During the Cold War, Denmark built two bunker complexes, named REGAN Vest and REGAN Øst (Danish: "REGeringsANlæg", translated: "Government Complex West and Government Complex East"), in Jutland and Zealand respectively. The idea was to have half of the government and the royal family in one bunker, and the other half in the other, allowing continuity of government, even if one of the bunkers were destroyed or cut off.


The Centre d'Opération des Forces Aériennes Stratégiques (COFAS) is a hardened command centre for French nuclear forces at Taverny Air Base in Taverny, Val d'Oise. The alternate national command center is located at Mont Verdun near Lyon.

The hardened headquarters of Force Océanique Stratégique (FOST), France's nuclear SSBN fleet, is at Houilles, Yvelines.


Germany operated a government bunker (Regierungsbunker) to house the German government, parliament and all federal personnel needed to keep the government working in the event of war or severe crisis. It was decommissioned in 1997.

New Zealand[edit]

The New Zealand government believes the most likely disaster scenario to affect the government is a large earthquake in Wellington. The government has plans to move Parliament and essential staff to Devonport Naval Base in Auckland if such an event occurs.[2]


The Norwegian government operates a nuclear bunker called Sentralanlegget in Buskerud County. The bunker is meant to accommodate the Norwegian Royal Family and the government in case of a nuclear/military attack on the nation, and also function as a wartime headquarters. There is also a bunker beneath Høyblokka in downtown Oslo.

Soviet Union and Russia[edit]

Map of the Metro-2 system as supposed by the United States military intelligence in 1991.[3]

Very little, in the public domain, is known about Russia's COG plans. One sprawling underground facility residing in tunnels cut into Mount Yamantau is likely to be related to the survival of Russia's government, given its size and decades long construction history, with a construction start during the rule of Leonid Brezhnev(1964–82).[4] KGB defector Colonel Oleg Gordievsky states that an organization, known as Directorate 15, (was or) is tasked with building and maintaining a network of hundreds of underground command bunkers for the Soviet leadership; this includes the vast site beneath Yamantau Mountain, which is often called Mezhgorye / Межго́рье after the closed city that is located nearby. However there is speculation, due to its proximity to Chelyabinsk-70, that Yamantau is a 400-square-mile underground complex which houses nuclear warheads, missiles, launch controls, and several nuclear weapons factories designed to continue production after a hypothetical nuclear war begins.[5]

The second command and control center in the Urals, after Yamantau, is similarly speculated to be underground and located near, or under, Kosvinsky Kamen. The site is believed to host the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces alternate command post, a post for the general staff built to compensate for the vulnerability of older Soviet era command posts in the Moscow region. In spite of this, the primary command posts for the Strategic Rocket Forces remains Kuntsevo in Moscow and the secondary is the Kosvinsky Mountain in the Urals.[6] The facility at Kosvinsky, finished in early 1996, was designed to resist US earth-penetrating warheads and serves a similar role as the American Cheyenne Mountain Complex.[5]

Further command centers, according to, include one near Chekhov, which is the Russian General Staff wartime command post, buried deep underground,[7] and Sharapovo about 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Moscow, built in the 1950s, Sharapovo is believed to have been the primary backup command center for the Soviet era leadership. Both Chekhov and Sharapovo are each suggested to have the capability to accommodate about 30,000 individuals,[5] As an alternative to Sharapovo, a secondary political leadership base is located at Chaadayevka, some 650 kilometers southeast of Moscow near the city of Penza.[8]

There is also said to be as many as 12 underground levels beneath the Russian capital of Moscow to protect the government in the Kremlin, known as the Main Directorate of special programs of the President (Glavnoye Upravlenie Specialnih Program: GUSP) (ru) the direct successor of the 15th Directorate of the KGB, which was established in 1977, GUSP is said to oversee, amongst other sites, a parallel track line alongside the Moscow metro, known as the 'Kremlin line' Metro-2 or D-6 to be used in an emergency.[9] Two destinations of this system are suggested to be the old KGB headquarters, now the FSB headquarters, at Lubyanka Square, and the second being regarded as an enormous underground leadership bunker adjacent to Moscow State University.[3] Another alleged subterranean destination, apart from the aforementioned underground town at Ramenki/Moscow State University is Vnukovo-2 airport.[10] Despite official Russian state ambiguity, it is speculated that many of the Moscow bunkers are linked by an underground railway line.[5]


During the Cold War, the Klara skyddsrum ("Klara shelter" or "Klara bunker") was built underneath Stockholm. The bunker is designed to accommodate two thirds of the government and between 8,000 and 12,000 civilians in the case of a military attack on Stockholm. It is designed as a very large, two-story oval, with multiple entrances. During peace time, parts of it are used as a parking garage.

United Kingdom[edit]

The primary British COG headquarters is at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall. The Central Government War Headquarters was previously maintained in a quarry complex near Corsham, Wiltshire. The above-ground support facility was RAF Rudloe Manor.

Service command centres are Northwood for the Royal Navy Trident SSBN force, and RAF High Wycombe for the Royal Air Force.

United States[edit]

The Continuity of Operations Plan was activated in the US following the September 11 attacks and has been in effect ever since. In September 2010, President Barack Obama informed Congress that the State of Emergency in effect since September 14, 2001, will be extended another year.[11][12] The National Emergencies Act grants various powers to the president during times of emergency,[13] and was intended to prevent a president from declaring a state of emergency of indefinite duration.[14]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ "Kam by se ukryli komunističtí funkcionáři před třetí světovou válkou?" [Where would communist functionaries hide in case of world war III?] (in Czech). 
  2. ^ Davison, Isaac (8 May 2014). "Parliament would relocate to Auckland if quake knocked out capital". NZ Herald. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b United States Department of Defense (1991). Military forces in transition. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Defense. p. 40. ISBN 0-16-035973-2. ISSN 1062-6557. Retrieved 2011-06-13. 
  4. ^ "Despite Cold War's End, Russia Keeps Building a Secret Complex By MICHAEL R. GORDON Published: April 16, 1996". 
  5. ^ a b c d "WINDOW ON HEARTLAND Geopolitical notes on Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia". 
  6. ^, Strategic C3I Facilities, accessed October 2007
  7. ^ Chekhov.
  8. ^ "Chaadayevka". 
  9. ^ "The Main Directorate of special programs of the President, the GUSP Chief - Alexander Tsarenko". 
  10. ^ "Global Security. Secrets 'Metro'-Style Source Cited on 'Nuclear Bunkers,' Subway Links Claim Moscow Kuranty in Russian No. 17, 30 Apr-6 May 97 p 11". 
  11. ^ Anti-War, 2010 Sept. 11, "Obama Extends Bush’s 9/11 State of Emergency: America to Enter Tenth Year of 'Emergency' Next Week,"
  12. ^ White House, 2010 Sept. 10, "Letter from the President on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks,
  13. ^ Title 50 United States Code, Chapter 34
  14. ^ Anti-War, 2010 Sept. 11, "Obama Extends Bush’s 9/11 State of Emergency: America to Enter Tenth Year of 'Emergency' Next Week,"

External links[edit]