An Assessment of Defense Nuclear Agency Functions

Pathways Toward a New National Nuclear Infrastructure for the Nation

by Richard Hundley

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This report evaluates options for carrying out functions of the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA). Options proposed were transferring DNA's functions to individual services and the Advanced Research Project Agency; maintaining DNA as a separate agency tailored to today's security environment; transferring functions to the Department of Energy weapons laboratories; combining any of these options; or reorganizing DNA to reduce costs significantly. The report argues that DNA's functions must be assessed in the framework of the national nuclear infrastructure and identifies three continuing requirements with respect to nuclear weapons: caring for the nuclear stockpile, maintaining a capability to understand and deal with the use of nuclear weapons, and reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. DNA performs these functions and a fourth pertaining to conventional technologies. The report concludes that no single agency could accomplish all DNA's functions without incurring substantial risk. Functions could be spread across services and other agencies, but that approach exacerbates an unwise trend toward fragmentation. No option promises significant cost savings. The larger concern is the national infrastructure, which could be consolidated to counter the effects of fragmentation.

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