The third annual Conference on Strategic Weapons in the 21st Century (SW21) will take place January 29, 2009, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. The conference is co-sponsored by Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories.
Theme: When and How Do We Hedge Against Uncertainty
International Dynamics, Policy, and Strategy Working Group
Assessing Risk and the Need to Hedge
Chairs: Ash Carter and Keith Payne
Against what developments must we hedge, and what should guide our policy to mitigate risk? What are the key threats driving policy and doctrine? Against what possible future threats do we really need to hedge? How do we hedge against uncertainty? How do we qualitatively describe the risks? Why are most countries modernizing their nuclear forces and infrastructure or proposing to? The defined threat and the options for the next administrationís threat assessments needs to be clarified. What policy objectives are we trying to achieve when we modify readiness and hedge against uncertain future developments? What is our policy on risk analysis and mitigation? How much do we need to rely on forces in being and high readiness? To what degree can we rely on the industrial base or a responsive infrastructure? What are the advantages of reduced readiness and what are the dangers? How do we calculate the lowest acceptable levels of forces and infrastructure required to assure our allies and ensure our own security?
Forces, Infrastructure, and Science and Technology Working Group
What are the Options for Hedging?
Chairs: Rich Mies and Sid Drell
What options in force readiness, infrastructure responsiveness, and R&D futures would permit hedging safely at lower stockpile numbers, fewer deployed weapons, and reduced alert levels? What forces, infrastructure, and S&T investments will be required as we reduce the number of nuclear weapons? How do you posture the forces in the absence of a well-defined threat? What are the technical challenges associated with a responsive infrastructure that is designed to support the lowest possible levels yet ensure our security against any adverse future developments? How do we address tactical vs. strategic responsiveness?
Key Issues From Contemporary Studies and Commissions
Chairs: Bill Perry and Jim Schlesinger
Panel Members: John Hamre, Larry Welch, Rich Mies, Bill Schneider, Sid Drell, Desmond Bowen
Roundtable Discussion: The Path Forward
Chairs: John Hamre and Larry Welch
What are the key issues that complicate a national consensus on strategic forces including nuclear weapons? What are the issues about which there is the most misunderstanding? Examples: What are the relationships between nuclear forces, offenses, defenses, conventional forces, and information operations? How do strategic capabilities positively and negatively influence security developments with friends and with potential adversaries? How do we deal with dual use, e.g., platforms? What is meant by hair trigger, de-alerting, etc.? What is a "new" system and what should be our policy about things that might be "new"? How near-term are the conditions required for the elimination of nuclear weapons and what should that mean for our near- and intermediate-term planning?