Where do the airmen and sailors who comprise the nuclear workforce fit in U.S. national security strategy today, and why will their continued stewardship of the U.S. nuclear arsenal matter as long as these weapons exist in the world?

Over the last few years, many observers, including key Department of Defense (DoD) officials, have commented on the need for DoD to better communicate to the nuclear personnel a more compelling rationale as to why the U.S. nuclear arsenal remains essential to the post-Cold War strategy of the United States and to the security of the American people. In the assessment of some, such a coherent narrative about the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons has not been sufficiently stated and promulgated across the force.

This concern led to the CSIS publication The Evolving U.S. Nuclear Narrative: Communicating the Rationale for the Role and Value of U.S. Nuclear Weapons, 1989 to Today. The study sought to not only track the historical narrative for U.S. nuclear weapons as it has changed over the years, but to also articulate a simple and clear rationale for the U.S. nuclear arsenal that speaks to the U.S. Air Force and Navy forces responsible for supporting and executing the U.S. nuclear mission every day.

This site, The U.S. Nuclear Narrative, augments and serves as an additional resource to the report findings. Here, users will find the full report, a summary version with the study’s main takeaways, and a database with primary source documents utilized in the research. Users will also be able to delve into an interactive timeline tracking how the U.S. nuclear narrative has shifted over the years and to explore additional, selected online resources.

The Evolving U.S. Nuclear Narrative: Communicating the Rationale for the Role and Value of U.S. Nuclear Weapons, 1989 to Today and U.S. Nuclear Narrative were made possible by the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs/Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters. All views expressed in the report and the website should be understood to be solely those of the authors.

About Us

Rebecca Hersman, Director, Project on Nuclear Issues and Senior Adviser, International Security Program
Clark Murdock, Senior Adviser (Non-Resident), International Security Program
Shanelle Van, Research Assistant, Project on Nuclear Issues
Will Pittinos, Program Coordinator and Research Associate, Project on Nuclear Issues
Corey Broschak, Intern, Project on Nuclear Issues