United States

United States Report on Managing Risks of Nuclear Escalation

The Conference Report (House Report 116-120) accompanying H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, requests the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to provide a report “detailing the Department’s efforts to develop and implement guidance to ensure that the risks of inadvertent escalation to nuclear war are considered within the decision-making process” and to “identify the capabilities and factors taken into account in developing such guidance. “

Avoiding miscalculation and misunderstanding in all contexts and at all times is a steadystate activity on the part of the United States and the Department of Defense (DOD). This report outlines an overall approach and describes ongoing actions that the United States takes to avoid inadvertent escalation that could lead to a nuclear conflict. Prior DOD submissions to Congress have broadly articulated steps DOD takes to reduce risks of escalation in such contexts.

For example, in 2018, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the Joint Staff submitted a report titled, “Reducing the Risks of Miscalculation and Unintended Consequences That Could Precipitate a Nuclear War,” which discussed U.S. messaging, posture, and dialogue regarding Russia, China, and North Korea. [1]And, in 2019, DOD submitted a report drafted by the Institute for Defense Analyses titled, “Presidential Decision Time Regarding Nuclear Weapons Employment: An Assessment and Options,” which described U.S. decision-making processes and options to reduce time pressure in U.S. nuclear weapons employment decision-making. [2]


[1] This report responded to the Conference Report (House Report 1 15-404) accompanying H.R. 2810, the NDAA for

FY2018.

[2] This report responded Section 1669 ofNDAA for FY2019.

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United States Department of Defense

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