Click here for a full index of the gallery.

Note that the current search function is very limited. It will usually only search one level down. We encourage you to use the index to get to the correct section before searching.

Back
Defense Nuclear Agency (by all its names)
The U.S. military organization responsible for those aspects of nuclear weapons remaining under military control after the Manhattan Project was succeeded by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947 was the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP), created at the same time as the AEC. These responsibilities included the maintenance, storage, surveillance, security, and handling of nuclear weapons, as well as supporting nuclear testing. Some of these responsibilities closely mirrored those of the AEC and members of both organizations often worked together. The AFSWP was a joint organization, staffed by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. Early nuclear weapons were large, complex, and cumbersome. They were stored as components rather than complete devices and required expert knowledge to assemble. The AFSWP commander hand-picked a team of regular Army officers, who were trained in the assembly and handling of the weapons. They in turn trained the enlisted soldiers, and the Army teams then trained teams from the Navy and Air Force. As nuclear weapons development proceeded, the weapons became mass-produced, smaller, lighter, and easier to store, handle, and maintain. They also required less effort to assemble. The AFSWP gradually shifted its emphasis away from training assembly teams, and became more involved in stockpile management and providing administrative, technical, and logistical support. It also supported nuclear weapons testing. In 1959, the AFSWP became the Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA), a field agency of the DOD. This new agency was given responsibility for the supervision of all DOD nuclear testing, which previously had been handled by the individual services. Otherwise, its role and organization remained much the same as its predecessor. President Eisenhower's proposed nuclear testing moratorium ultimately fundamentally changed DASA's mission, as nuclear testing was phased out, Cold War tensions eased, and nuclear disarmament became a prospect. With the rapid military build-up and strategic modernization in the late 1960s, the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) was established in 1971 as the successor of DASA and soon became the leader for all U.S. nuclear weapons effect tests and other new technologies. DNA was renamed the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA) in 1996 and gained increased responsibilities. In addition to the missions it inherited from the DNA, the DSWA was charged with conducting programs associated with arms control technology and with counterproliferation support, including assessing the technological dangers of current and projected weapons of mass destruction. But the DSWA had a brief life with that name. In 1998, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) was established, consolidating the DSWA, On-Site Inspection Agency (formed in 1988), and two related programs that had been formed earlier in the 1990s, into one organization with a broad mission, advertised by its new name. DTRA employs approximately 2,000 civilian and uniformed service members at more than a dozen permanent locations around the world. The majority of personnel are at DTRA headquarters at Fort Belvoir, but approximately 15 percent of the workforce is split between Kirtland AFB and the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, and the Nevada National Security Site (formerly called the Nevada Test Site), where they do testing and support the U.S. military's nuclear mission.
Search within this gallery group