- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Brandon Parker: From Bombers to Nonproliferation

  • Isabella Gordillo
| Spring 2015

Researching Nuclear Numbers and Needs

As a young man in the small city of Ogden, Utah, Brandon Parker found himself increasingly interested in the U.S. Air Force, a service where his step-father had made his career. Recruited by the Air Force Academy to play basketball, Parker didn't initially want to become a pilot. But after his initial flight-screening program, he called his mother out of excitement to let her know that he had found exactly what he was meant to do. Until recently, Lieutenant Colonel Parker commanded a nuclear bomber unit based in North Dakota. This year, Parker a research fellow with the Center's International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, is conducting research on nuclear nonproliferation.

Parker had the option of a year at the Belfer Center or at a war college. He selected the Belfer Center because of its long history and strong relationship with U.S. military personnel. Being surrounded by nuclear scholars and other researchers has helped him step outside of his military-based perspective, he said. "They think rigorously about security matters, but they think about them in a way that I don't. It's a completely different perspective," he says. Parker hopes that his background with a nuclear bomber unit is contributing to others’ research as well.

At the Center, Parker is writing a research paper focusing on the strategy involved with deterrence and whether or not all components of the nuclear triad (strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles) are essential to nuclear weapon systems. While much of the focus on disarmament is centered on numbers, Parker believes more of the focus should be on the qualities of weaponry. "I recognize that numbers are important, but to me what is more important, especially as we contemplate future reductions, are the characteristics and attributes of the weapon systems."

Parker's research has led him to the conclusion that policymakers should consider more than fiscal factors. "I don't want to see fiscal concerns preclude strategic thought on the matter. I don't want to see [those concerns] overcome the generation of ideas."

"Costs," he says, "come in many forms."

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Gordillo, Isabella. Brandon Parker: From Bombers to Nonproliferation.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Spring 2015).

The Author

Isabella Gordillo