Strategic Command Academic Alliance


Develop an academic community of interest focused on research and analysis of deterrence, assurance, and associated
strategic level national security themes in a rapidly changing, multi-domain global threat environment.


» Advance deterrence and assurance thinking beyond Cold War era narratives.

» Stimulate rigorous academic research into deterrence, assurance, and other concepts of strategic thought for the 21st Century.

» Promote collaboration among academic and military Alliance members.

» Encourage development of national security professionals to meet future research, analytic, and decision-making requirements.


USSTRATCOM Analytic Agenda 2023-2024 Research Questions

Focus Area 1:  Security Environment

  • What are the strategic implications of a two nuclear peer environment (e.g., for U.S. policy, nuclear modernization, arms control, strategic stability dialogues)?
    • What is the role, if any, of parity in such an environment?
    • Does it change how we think about 3rd, 4th, nth actors?
  • What is the impact on U.S. strategy of increasing ties between U.S. strategic competitors? What are the implications for stability (e.g., strategic stability, first strike stability, crisis stability, arms race stability)?
  • Describe the potential implications for U.S. policy, strategy, and force posture of a security environment where multiple potential adversaries are increasing reliance on nuclear weapons.
  • How do U.S. perceptions of topics like warfare, nuclear use, deterrence, stability, and the spectrum of conflict compare to those of its competitors?  What risks arise in the differences among these perspectives?
  • Given a rapidly evolving security environment, what are the potential risks to effectively assuring U.S. allies or deterring potential adversaries? Describe the “known unknowns” and hypothesize the “unknown unknowns.”
    • What may buy down these risks (e.g., policy, strategy, posture, capabilities)?
  • How might adversary perceptions of their ability to deny the United States the use of the electromagnetic spectrum for command and control, sensing, etc. affect stability (e.g., strategic stability, first strike stability, crisis stability, arms race stability)?


Focus Area 2:  Deterrence and Escalation Maneuver

  • What are the escalation dynamics of simultaneous conflicts with more than one strategic adversary?
    • How might those dynamics shift according to the relationship between adversaries (e.g., adversaries cooperating, coordinating, allied)?
  • What strategies or approaches are necessary to deter multiple strategic actors simultaneously?
    • How might the strategies and capabilities needed to deter a second adversary change if we are already in conflict with one?
    • How might the United States and its allies shape the environment to enhance strategic stability among multiple nuclear-armed actors?
  • How do deterrence and compellence strategies evolve across the spectrum of conflict? 
    • What strategic approaches or concepts promote de-escalation or restoration of deterrence?
    • What effects do non-nuclear capabilities have on escalation dynamics?
  • What methods can be used to measure the effectiveness of a deterrence strategy?
  • How might nuclear and non-nuclear integration enhance strategic deterrence? Extended deterrence? What are the potential risks?
  • What are the key challenges to realizing integrated deterrence within and outside the Department of Defense (DOD), and how can they be resolved, managed, or mitigated?
  • Describe and evaluate alternative restore deterrence strategies and operational concepts. What are the risks and benefits of responding to adversary aggression in a manner proportional to the values threatened?
  • How should joint command and control doctrine for the combatant command and its functional components be modified to accept and enable the envisioned Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concepts of real-time centralized control?
    • What are the electromagnetic spectrum implications of this shift and potential paths to address?


Focus Area 3:  Assurance and Extended Deterrence

  • What is required of U.S. alliance architectures to address the growing momentum of adversaries acting against and/or subverting the liberal, rules-based international order?
  • How does the United States and its allies remain resilient against adversarial nuclear coercion?
  • How might the United States enhance the credibility of its extended deterrence commitments to its allies?
    • How might advanced non-nuclear capabilities or conventional-nuclear integration enhance the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence commitments?
    • How should deterrence efforts be shared or divided among allies?
    • What would be the consequences, especially to the credibility of U.S. security commitments and ally relationships, if allies or partners developed sovereign nuclear capabilities?


Focus Area 4:  Emerging and Future Technology

  • What impact might advanced technologies have on assurance and deterrence?
    • How might technologies 50 years in the future impact the security environment?
    • What impact might these advanced technologies have on stability (e.g., strategic stability, first strike stability, crisis stability, arms race stability)?
  • What technologies or technological trends might lead to capabilities with greater lethality than nuclear weapons? Describe the potential implications of such capabilities. What are the potential impacts on stability (e.g., strategic stability, first strike stability, crisis stability, arms race stability)?
  • What are the potential benefits and risks of leveraging artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) or other novel technology applications for nuclear strategy development, nuclear command and control and operations, or nuclear enterprise modernization?  How can risks be mitigated?
    • In what aspects of strategic deterrence can AI/ML provide the greatest benefits for the lowest risk?
  • What processes and procedures might accelerate the coordination between military and civilian organizations to exploit, attack, protect, and manage the electromagnetic spectrum operational environment to attain electromagnetic spectrum superiority?
  • What are the benefits and risks to deployed warfighters of commercial and military use of current and emerging communication standards such as 5G and 6G?
    • How should DOD design wrap-around technologies to enable these benefits while protecting against the inherent risk?
  • Describe the potential benefits of joint force and coalition force frequency de-confliction enabled by spectrum sharing technologies that allow unsynchronized simultaneous transmission over the same frequency bands by commercial and U.S. forces.
  • How might coherent electromagnetic attack or sensing between mission aircraft and unmanned systems improve the overall range of effects or detection against a threat?
  • How might electromagnetic spectrum-dependent systems leverage AI solutions real time?
  • How might campaign-level modeling and simulation capture the impacts of electromagnetic attack (EA), electromagnetic support (ES), and electromagnetic protection (EP) on the joint force?
    • To what extent would higher fidelity modeling of EA, ES, and EP of EMS-dependent systems result in significantly altered outcomes of current model success or failure metrics?


U.S. Strategic Command Academic Alliance 2022-2023 Academic Year Research Topics in PDF
U.S. Strategic Command Academic Alliance 2021-2022 Academic Year Research Topics in PDF
U.S. Strategic Command Academic Alliance 2020-2021 Academic Year Research Topics in PDF
U.S. Strategic Command Academic Alliance 2018-2019 Academic Year Research Topics in PDF
U.S. Strategic Command Academic Alliance 2017-2018 Academic Year Research Topics in PDF


Curtis D. McGiffin, Associate Dean
School of Strategic Force Studies

James C. Petrosky, Director
Nuclear Expertise for Advancing Technologies




Todd Robinson, Assistant Professor
Military and Security Studies
Air University




John M. Wiest, Assistant Dean
College of Engineering




Sharon K. Weiner, Associate Professor
School of International Service




Zdzislaw Sliwa, Dean
Baltic Defence College




Adriana Seagle, Program Director
Intelligence and Security Studies



California State University

Mark Clark, Professor and Director
National Security Studies Program

Steven Childs, Associate Professor
National Security Studies Program




Christopher J. Ferrero, Assistant Professor
Intelligence and National Security Studies



Mark Deinert, Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering




Peter Harris, Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science



Command and General Staff College (CGSC)

Barry M. Stentiford, Director
Advanced Strategic Leadership
Studies Program (ASLSP)




Howard W. Buffett, Associate Professor
International and Public Affairs




Erika Moreno, Professor
Political Science and International Relations

Maorong Jiang, Associate Professor
History and Political Science




Colonel George R. Farfour, Commandant
Defense Nuclear Weapons School

James M. Ragland, Coordination/Manager
Nuclear Enterprise Branch/Nuclear Weapons Instructional Museum




Adam N. Stulberg, Professor
The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

Jenna Jordan, Assistant Professor
The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

Margaret E. Kosal, Associate Professor
The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

Lawrence Rubin, Associate Professor
The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

Rachel Whitlark, Assistant Professor
The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs




Matthew Kroenig, Associate Professor
International Relations Field Chair Dept. of Government




Matthew Bunn, Professor
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs



Indiana University

Sarah Bauerle Danzman, Assistant Professor
Department of International Studies



Maurice E. Dawson, Assistant Professor
Director, Center for Cyber Security and
Forensics Education




Mack Shelley, Department Chair
Political Science

Ellen Pirro, Lecturer
Political Science

Steffen Schmidt, Professor
Political Science

Doug Jacobson, Professor
Electrical & Computer Engineering




Jonathan Bierce, Strategic Architect
Supervisor, Operations and Threat Assessments Group

Rob Vercher, Program Area Manager
Deterrence Analysis Prototyping & Development
Air Force Strategic Systems



Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies




David Graff, Director
Security Studies



         Louisiana Tech Research Institute

Sumeet Dua, Associate Vice President for Research and Partnerships
Louisiana Tech University

Warren Ward, Chief of Staff and Director of Operations
Louisiana Tech Research Institute




John P. Rose, Department Head
Department of Defense and Strategic Studies Program

Kerry Kartchner, Member, Distinguished Faculty
Department of Defense and Strategic Studies Program



Naval Postgraduate School

Wade Huntley, Senior Lecturer and Academic Director
School of International Graduate Studies



Richard Evans, Interim Executive Director
National Strategic Research Institute




Paul Bernstein, Senior Research Fellow
Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Justin Anderson, Senior Policy Fellow
Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction



Thomas Ambrosio, Professor 
Criminal Justice & Political Science



Karen L. Hinkle, Professor  
Associate Provost for Research and Chief Research Officer




Bethany Goldblum, Founder & Director
Nuclear Policy Working Group




Przemyslaw Mazur
Institute of Security Studies

Rafal Kopec
Institute of Security Studies



John Hodgson, Associate Director
Center for Security Research and Education

Darryl Farber, Assistant Teaching Professor
College of Engineering and School of
International Affairs




Steve Cimbala, Distinguished Professor
Political Science




Rebecca Hersman, Director
Project on Nuclear Issues



Purdue University

Stacey L. Connaughton, Director
Purdue Policy Research Institute

Daniel DeLaurentis, Professor
School of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Sorin Matei, Associate Professor
Associate Professor, College of Liberal Arts



Royal Danish Defence College


Carina Ann Meyn, Assistant Professor
Institute for Strategy




Amy B. Zegart, Co-Director
Center for International Security
and Cooperation




Nicholas Taylor
United Kingdom Deterrence and Assurance

Academic Alliance




Damon Coletta, Professor/Editor
Political Science/Space & Defense




Edward Kaplan, Dean
School of Strategic Landpower




LTC Michael Rosol, Director
International Affairs, Social Sciences Department 

Thomas Sherlock, Professor
Political Science



National Security, Political Science Department




CDR Daniel Post, Permanent Military Professor Fellow
Strategy and Policy Department




Matthew Fuhrmann, Director
Graduate Studies, Political Science




Roberto Furfaro, Associate Professor
Systems and Industrial Engineering




Erik Gartzke, Director
Center for Peace and Security Studies




Lewis Griffith, Lecturer and Director
Defense and Security Policy Lab
Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Jill Schmieder Hereau, Associate Director
Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy




Michael Denning, Director
Office of Graduate Military Programs

Don Haider-Markel, Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science



University of Miami

Brian D. Blankenship, Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science




Tyler White, Director
National Security Program

Elsbeth J. Magilton, Executive Director
Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications
Law Program, College of Law




Chuck M. Rowling, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science




Michelle Black, Assistant Professor
Political Science

Lana Obradovic, Assistant Professor
Political Science




Evan Renfro, Assistant Professor
Political Science




Michael Desch, Director
Notre Dame International Security Center




Phil Williams, Director
Matthew B. Ridgway Center
for International Security Studies




Ashley Townshend, Director
Foreign Policy and Defence




Russel Hirst, Associate Professor and
Managing Editor

International Journal of Nuclear Security




Moriba K. Jah, Associate Professor
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Alan J. Kuperman, Associate Professor
Coordinator, Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project




Jeannie Johnson, Founding Director & Associate Professor
Center for Anticipatory Intelligence

Matt Berrett, Cofounder & Professional Practice Faculty
Center for Anticipatory Intelligence

Briana Bowen, Cofounder & Associate Director
Center for Anticipatory Intelligence




Shale Horowitz, Professor
Department of Political Science



David Dorondo, Associate Professor
Department of History




Nuno Monterio, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science

Ian O. Johnson, Lecturer
Department of History
Associate Director, Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy

Points of Reference for the Conduct of
21st Century Deterrence and Assurance Research


Deterrence and Assurance are abstract political-military concepts.   They are also conditions attained in the minds of deterrees and assurees, achieved only at their respective discretion, and only in nuanced context of their unique decision spaces.  Activities undertaken to achieve deterrence and assurance goals comprise planning and execution of a strategy, an equally abstract concept requiring similar research consideration.  Simply stated, research involves gaining understanding of both the nature of a given deterrence and assurance problem, and how to address it.

With these themes in mind, new thinking in deterrence and assurance is not exclusively adversary and/or military in scope.  It calls for research into topics that go beyond consideration of adversary military capabilities and attendant U.S./Allied means to countervail them.  Topics include (but are not limited to) local, regional, and international political and economic factors; socio-cultural and decision-making dynamics; as well as psychological lines of inquiry, all of which are geared toward informing policies pursuant to tailored deterrence and allied assurance objectives.

While better understanding into how objectives might be achieved vis-à-vis a given deterrence and assurance problem set remains a central focus, equally as pertinent is appreciating the mechanics of how objectives are to be achieved.  Such research involves understanding the political, fiscal, and bureaucratic aspects of marshalling limited national resources into coherent deterrence and assurance strategies.  Underlying all of this is the need to understand the nature of the term strategy itself.

While not exhaustive, researchers are encouraged to consider the following alphabetized list of references selected with each of these themes in mind as they pursue efforts to add to the literature.
















Strategic Intelligence

Strategic Culture

Decision-Making Dynamics

Behavioral Dynamics

Legacy Deterrence Theory

Deterrence in the “Second Nuclear Age”

Deterring Terrorism




Concept of Deterrence

Practitioners of Deterrence


Points of Reference for the Conduct of 21st Century Deterrence and Assurance Research in PDF