The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
The National Security Labs (Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories) are essential to the care of the US nuclear deterrent as well as an understanding of what is happening globally in the nuclear domain. Whether one looks at the 2010 or the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the requirements that the labs must address are very similar. What can be done to enable effective coordination between the Department of Energy and the Labs to ensure that, as partners, they meet the nation's needs? What drives the complexity of lab operations? How can it be managed? Charles McMillan brings leadership experience from two of these laboratories to a dialog on these topics.