The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska (NU) is providing essential operational archival support to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) through a new $128,000 contract award.
The command’s archive is the repository for the nation’s nuclear history, including a variety of prominent holdings of original documents, photographs, films and other historical archival materials. It is accessed by Joint Staff, Services, Combatant Commands, Components and military schoolhouses.
"The archives are used in day-to-day operations to inform defense leaders about important matters such as congressional testimony and research," said Dr. Christopher Yeaw, NSRI associate executive director. "As USSTRATCOM’s University Affiliated Research Center designated by the Department of Defense, NSRI was able to efficiently bring to bear the expertise the Command needed to get this work started."
The archive has been built throughout the last 70 years. As technology has evolved — from paper, to microfilm and microfiche, to floppy disks and onward — so have standards for archival support, requiring updates and new approaches, said Dr. Karen Miller, USSTRATCOM historian.
"When commanders have historical questions, they are usually interested in the ‘why’ of a decision and the ‘how’ of its implementation. And, they need that information at the speed of ‘now,’ not in weeks or months," Dr. Miller said. "Organizing our archive to meet National Archives and Records Administration standards and making it electronically accessible and searchable will allow my office to provide commanders and staff with historical information they need in the timeframe they need to make decisions about how to apply strategic deterrence in a way that supports our National Defense Strategy."Wendy Johnson, archivist and a reserve major general in the U.S. Air National Guard, has been brought on to NSRI to lead several tasks throughout the next three years.
"Picture a large room with moving shelves — the ones you can slide back and forth," Johnson said. "I could spend hours there and never want to leave — just drink in the information. Our role is to get in there and open every box, survey, group and index everything and eventually digitize and add metadata to make all of this incredible information more accessible.
"I would argue that, over the last few decades, there has been some atrophy in understanding how to apply deterrence, what that looks like, how we exercise it. Making this historical information accessible can provide valuable context to our decision-making calculus."
The project is an extension of NSRI’s core capabilities for strategic deterrence and nuclear weapons support, which include research and development within:
- Academic wargaming
- Arms control and nonproliferation
- Weapons policy
- Consequence management
- Electromagnetic spectrum operations
- Enterprise support technologies
- Conflict deterrence and escalation dynamics
Through its work in this mission space, NSRI aims to strengthen U.S. strategic deterrence, advance thought regarding U.S. nuclear posture and mitigate the effects of foreign nuclear capabilities and intentions.
"This project is a great example of NSRI’s unique ability to understand a challenge, access our deep bench of experts and execute,” Yeaw said. “We are always willing to extend our capacity to meet the needs of our prime sponsor, USSTRATCOM."
Learn more at nsri.nebraska.edu/nuclear.
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.