HomeNewsSpecial Reports21st Century Nuclear Deterrence

About Deterrence

The strategic environment has changed with the expanding capability of world actors. The future environment is less predictable and demands our national deterrence strategy accounts for the nature of this uncertainty.

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NUCLEAR FORCES

The basis of strategic deterrence includes nuclear weapon-armed long-range aircraft, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarines, along with the vital communications elements the president of the United States uses to command and control these forces.

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MISSILE DEFENSE

Missile defense protects the United States, its military forces abroad and its allies and partners from the threat of a ballistic missile attack by destroying such missiles in flight before they reach their intended target.

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MODERNIZATION

Rebuilding and modernizing capabilities and infrastructure is essential to the continued effectiveness and resiliency of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

In light of the realities of the contemporary threat environment, the 2018 NPR presents an assessment of US nuclear policy that is consistent with past US policy by placing priority on the need to deter potential adversaries, assure allies and partners, and hedge against future risks, while also seeking greater cooperation where possible in support of arms control and global non-proliferation efforts.

Watch Now: On Deterrence

In light of the realities of the contemporary threat environment, the 2018 NPR presents an assessment of US nuclear policy that is consistent with past US policy by placing priority on the need to deter potential adversaries, assure allies and partners, and hedge against future risks, while also seeking greater cooperation where possible in support of arms control and global non-proliferation efforts.

NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW COVER

NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW

President Donald J. Trump directed Defense Secretary James N. Mattis to initiate a new NPR to ensure the nation's nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready and appropriately tailored to deter 21st century threats and reassures allies. 

General Hyten Remarks on 21st Century Strategic Deterrence


MISSILE DEFENSE REVIEW

President Trump directed Secretary Mattis to identify ways to strengthen missile defense capabilities, rebalance homeland and theater defense priorities, and provide the necessary policy and strategy framework for our nation's missile defense systems. This review is ongoing.

21st Century Deterrence Components

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Space & Cyber

Information Superiority

Enables the ability to be more aware, agile and effective than the enemy.

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Ballistic Missile Defense System

Active Defense Capabilities

Incorporates a variety of sensors with ground- and sea-based interceptor missiles to track, engage and destroy ballistic missiles.

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Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

Ready, Reliable & Timely

Complicates adversary attack planning and provides prompt response around-the-clock.

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Command, Control

Ensuring Decision Authority

Warns national command authority of attack and links national command authority with forces in the field to preserve decision time and maintain effectiveness.

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DOE/NNSA Laboratories

Enhancing Nuclear Security

Ensures the nation sustains the nuclear deterrent through the application of science and technology.

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Bombers & DCA

Flexible

The ability to forward-deploy U.S. bombers and dual-capable aircraft demonstrates U.S. intent and the severity of the crisis to allies and adversaries.

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Ballistic Missile Submarines

Survivable

Assured second strike capability, even against surprise attack, thereby enabling greater flexibility in the decision-making cycle.

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Leader Quotes

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, hosts a seminar on the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., Feb. 16, 2018.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis briefs reporters at a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 15, 2018.
Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan gives opening remarks at a press briefing on the nuclear posture review rollout at the Pentagon, Feb. 2, 2018.
Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan, Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon Jr. co-host the nuclear posture review rollout during a press briefing at the Pentagon, Feb. 2, 2018.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis announces the National Defense Strategy in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2018.

Faces of Deterrence

U.S. service members and civilian personnel work daily to deter any potential enemy who considers launching a first strike against the United States or our allies.