Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States

The cover of the Strategic Posture Commission Report.

The bipartisan commission, facilitated by USIP from 2008-2009, was tasked by Congress to "examine and make recommendations with respect to the long-term strategic posture of the United States."  Chaired by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, Congress created the Commission as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008.  The final report, consisting of over one hundred findings and recommendations, was delivered to Congress and the White House on May 6, 2009.  An interim report was submitted on December 15, 2008.

USIP's Paul Hughes served as the Executive Director of the Commission.

Summary of Findings and Recommendations

  • The United States should pursue an approach to reduce nuclear dangers that balances U.S. deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation interests.
  • Nuclear terrorism against the United States and other nations is a very serious threat.  This requires a much more concerted international response, one which the United States must lead.
  • An accelerated campaign to close or secure the world’s most vulnerable nuclear sites as quickly as possible should be a top national priority.
  • At a time when the United States is considering how to reduce nuclear dangers globally, it is essential that it pursue cooperative, binding measures with others.
  • The Commission sees both U.S. extended deterrence guarantees to its allies and the global Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty regime as integral to the achievement of U.S. nonproliferation objectives.
  • Negotiation and entry into force of a ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes would be a valuable addition to the global nonproliferation regime.


Quick Facts About the Commission 

  • The Commission consisted of twelve members nominated by Congress - 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans were selected by the House Armed Services Committee; 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans were selected by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
  • USIP contracted with the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), which provided substantive expertise and support for classified discussions and materials.
  • Fifty policy experts served in five Expert Working Groups that advised the Commission.  Working Groups examined: (1) national security strategy and policies; (2) deterrent force posture; (3) countering proliferation; (4) nuclear infrastructure; and (5) external conditions and threats.
  • There were 12 plenary meetings of the Commission from May 2008 to April 2009.
  • The Commission met with 75 people in and out of government as it prepared its report, including representatives of foreign governments.
  • The Commission and its supporting Expert Working Groups traveled to several key sites of the U.S. nuclear complex, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Y-12 National Security Complex.