Home »  Events

Event Information:

  • Mon

    Dr. Craig Wuest @NPWG

    5:30 pm - 7:00 pmNSSC Suite (2150 Shattuck Ave, Suite 230)


    Decision Tree Models of Deterrence Including Tactical Nuclear Weapons
    Thomas Edmunds, Jeffrey Garrett, and Craig Wuest
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    In a conventional conflict between two nuclear-armed adversaries, one side might choose to escalate to limited nuclear use in order to deescalate a conflict that is going poorly. This option to strengthen deterrence is receiving renewed attention in light of last year’s release of the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. The objective is to deter the aggressor from instigating a conventional conflict, and the study examines how the threat of use of a limited number of tactical nuclear weapon can contribute to that aim. We analyze the initial attacker’s decision process with a decision tree, where we represent the defender’s response as uncertainty nodes in the tree. This representation of the defender’s actions has two advantages. First, it captures the aggressor’s uncertainty about the defender’s choices by representing that behavior as chance nodes in the tree. Second, a parametric exploration of the defender probabilities reveals what signals and actions the defender can take to deter the attacker. For example, the probabilities assigned to various defender mobilization responses to mobilization by the attacker can reveal what levels are needed to prevent the attack from happening. We illustrate the method with a simple example involving launches of a single tactical nuclear weapon by either the attacker if the attack is stalled and/or the defender to stop the attack. We build the model using a commercial decision tree software package with capability for multivariate sensitivity analysis.


    Dr. Craig Wuest is the Systems Analysis Group Leader in the Office of Defense Coordination at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where he oversees and conducts studies on technical deterrence issues in support of LLNL’s national security missions.
    In September 2016, Dr. Wuest completed 3½ years
of service in the Department of Defense as special
scientific advisor to the Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological
Defense Programs (ASD(NCB)) and the Deputy
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters.
He provided expertise on issues pertaining to the
U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, including analysis
in support of the Nuclear Weapons Council, life
extension programs, and delivery systems. He also provided scientific and technical oversight for nuclear weapons outputs and effects, including electromagnetic pulse and nuclear survivability.
    In March 2015, Dr. Wuest was appointed by ASD(NCB) to serve as Executive Secretary for the Defense Science Board Task Force on Deterring, Preventing, and Responding to the Threat or Use of WMD. He has also served for 17 years on the support staff and as a special invitee to the U.S. Strategic Command Strategic Advisory Group Science, Technology, and Transformation Panel.
    Dr. Wuest’s career at LLNL began in 1983 as a post-doctoral researcher after receiving his Ph.D. in high energy physics from the University of California, Irvine. He has conducted research in high energy physics, nuclear weapons and radiation effects, radiation detection, and directed energy weapons, as a staff member and manager in defense, intelligence, fusion energy, and homeland security programs. Between 2012-2013, he was a Fellow of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, focusing on strategic deterrence, arms reduction stability, and multi-domain deterrence.
    Dr. Wuest is a recipient of the 1989 Bruno Rossi High Energy Astrophysics Prize. He has been awarded the National Nuclear Security Administration Defense Programs Award of Excellence and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Dr. Wuest has published over 200 scientific and technical papers and holds five patents in electro-optical and radiation detection technology.

    Jeff Garrett joined LLNL in 2017 as a Defense Systems Analyst. His work focuses on the technical analysis of U.S. deterrence options against foreign and emerging threats, with an emphasis on modeling, simulation, and all-source analysis.
    From 2010 to 2017 Jeff served as an intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency. In this role Jeff authored and delivered all-source reports and briefings on foreign nuclear weapon programs to senior U.S. defense and military leaders.
    Jeff holds an ME in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email