NUCLEAR WEAPONSSimplified Strategy to Accelerate Nuclear Deterrence Capabilities

By Kenny Vigil

Published 21 October 2023

Sandia Lab is bolstering its nuclear deterrence portfolio strategy, aiming to deliver nuclear deterrence capabilities faster. Referring to the current geopolitical scene. Laura McGill, deputy labs director for nuclear deterrence and chief technology officer, said, “It’s a dynamic environment. We must be able to deliver.”

Simplify. Empower. Partner.

These pillars will be the driving force of Sandia’s nuclear deterrence portfolio strategy — with the overall goal to deliver more quickly. More than 1,100 employees joined as nuclear deterrence leadership unveiled the strategy during a live Microsoft Teams meeting on Oct. 4.

“We need to deliver nuclear deterrence capabilities faster to ensure we have a flexible and responsive stockpile. We’ll make data-informed decisions to make sure we do this without reducing safety, security and reliability,” said Laura McGill, deputy labs director for nuclear deterrence and chief technology officer.

Citing the current geopolitical scene, McGill said, “It’s a dynamic environment. We must be able to deliver.”

The pillars in the new strategy connect to Sandia’s two overarching goals, which are to accelerate innovation and lead in modern engineering. Each pillar also ties to one of Sandia’s three key behaviors. The behaviors set expectations for how Sandians interact with one another, stakeholders and customers to meet national security missions.

Simplify for Rapid Execution
Thinking creatively about how Sandia accomplishes work to deliver more quickly is the basis of the “simplify” pillar. In the short term, nuclear deterrence programs will work with other organizations to identify which nontechnical activities in workflows can be eliminated.

A longer-term goal will look at developing project management standards and applying them across Sandia’s nuclear deterrence programs for consistency. The “simplify” pillar connects to Sandia’s “purpose-driven” behavior to serve the nation passionately and creatively.

Empower to Out-Innovate the Adversary
Encouraging employees to take risks and push the envelope will empower Sandians to deliver for the nation’s most critical deterrence needs. This initiative focuses on preparing for urgent and emerging deterrent needs using research and development. Empowering employees ties to Sandia’s “courage” behavior. A major focus of this pillar is to deploy a technical and cultural training program, with an emphasis on employee onboarding.

Partner to Deliver
McGill said Sandia has spent a lot of time over the past year enhancing partnerships across the nuclear security enterprise. The goal is to enhance and expand collaboration with partners to streamline operations for delivery. The pillar ties to Sandia’s “connected” behavior to leverage diverse perspectives. To help accomplish that, Sandia will have a point person dedicated to enhancing cross-program and and cross-site relationships.

Laura said the new nuclear deterrence strategy is greatly simplified. “We’re really changing the posture of our nuclear deterrence portfolio to be more responsive and to leverage our capabilities,” she said. Nuclear deterrence leadership played a role in developing the new strategy.

Kenny Vigil isa  communications specialist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The article was originally posted to the web site of Sandia Lab.