Maj. Gen., USAF (Ret.) Rick Evans, NSRI executive director, and Dr. Christopher Yeaw, NSRI research director for nuclear programs, discuss the new $25 million NNSA IDIQ contract and its intended mission impact.
The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska (NU) has been awarded a 5-year, $25 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to support strategic deterrence and nuclear threat reduction efforts.
“This is an exciting new partnership for NSRI and the University of Nebraska that will open even more doors for our researchers to do cutting-edge work to keep our nation safe,” said NU System President Ted Carter. “Today’s national security needs are urgent and complex, especially when it comes to nuclear threats and other weapons of mass destruction. I am so proud that the University of Nebraska can help lead the way in supporting our country’s defense efforts."
NNSA, a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, maintains and enhances the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile while working to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction. NNSA is a principal partner of U.S. Strategic Command, which sponsors NSRI as a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) of the Department of Defense.
“It is a natural fit for NSRI to collaborate very closely with NNSA given our laser focus on USSTRATCOM’s primary mission of strategic deterrence — the two entities are remaining absolutely aligned, especially as the nation executes the warhead modernization programs,” said Dr, Christopher Yeaw, NSRI research director for nuclear programs. “We are proud to have established this enduring relationship with the administration.”
This is the first IDIQ contract NSRI has received outside of the three totaling $298 million with USSTRATCOM, which are tied to the institute’s UARC designation. The most recent USSTRATCOM IDIQ was awarded in September 2020.
Through the NNSA IDIQ, NSRI will provide nuclear weapon mission space and design parameters, iterative wargaming, warhead technical verification, policy research, wargaming knowledge management and more.
The first $1.1 million task order under this contract has already been awarded. NSRI will lead a series of workshops for NNSA personnel as well as researchers from across three of the DOE national laboratories.
As the U.S. federal government launches into modernizing all elements of the nuclear triad over the next decade, there are several important questions that must be answered. The workshops will aim to explore the design space for U.S. nuclear weapons in the 21st century.
“What should the missions of our next generation of nuclear weapons be? What should those designs be? What advances in manufacturing could lead to innovation approaches? These are all incredibly complex and critical questions NNSA and others are debating, and our intention, in collaboration with the national labs in this space, is to help all of us wrestle to conclusions,” Yeaw said.
NSRI will also bring forward a recent deliverable from University of Nebraska students to NNSA — the institute’s limited nuclear conflict wargame that was updated and transformed this past summer into an online experience.
Through the game, participants develop a deeper understanding of nuclear warfare demanded by the challenges emerging in the global competition environment. Originally created as an in-person experience for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the exercise re-introduces participants to nuclear strategy concepts, operational planning processes and tactical nuclear capabilities.
The University of Nebraska’s campuses also have several areas of expertise that can contribute to NNSA’s mission objectives. From the standpoint of technical verification, Dr. Wei Qiao and Dr. Mark Bauer from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) have already offered their technical support to future warhead verification research. Capabilities of the UNL Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab have also been highlighted to NNSA as have the political science departments at both UNL and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“This contract provides NSRI another mechanism to work with federal government partners in pursuit of our mission in alignment with STRATCOM’s No. 1 mission — strategic deterrence — and the command’s No. 1 priority — modernizing the triad,” said Maj. Gen., USAF (Ret.) Rick Evans, NSRI executive director. “Given our team’s decades of experience in nuclear safeguards and security, providing foresight and leadership in this space is not only our mission, but our responsibility.”
About the National Strategic Research Institute
Through the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska leading scientists deliver innovative national security research, technology, product and strategy development, training and exercises, and subject matter expertise to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. One of only 14 DOD-designated University Affiliated Research Centers in the country, NSRI is sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command and works to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated threats. Read about our mission.