Reference Number: No. 378-96




June 26, 1996



The Department of Defense (DoD) announced today that the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) is being renamed the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA). This change is made to more accurately reflect the Agency's mission under its 1995 charter.

DNA, whose lineage derives from the Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb, carried out nuclear support responsibilities throughout the Cold War. Over the years, the name of the organization evolved from the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project in 1947, to the Defense Atomic Support Agency in 1959, to DNA in 1971. Thus the "special weapons" designation is a return to the Agency's roots, but the mission now encompasses both nuclear and advanced conventional weapons support programs.

The Agency's responsibilities were increased as a result of two congressionally mandated studies of its roles and functions. Missions include:

-- Maintaining a center for nuclear technical expertise within DoD.

-- Conducting nuclear weapons stockpile support and serving as the lead DoD agency for national nuclear stockpile stewardship programs.

-- Performing nuclear and advanced weapons effects research and operational support.

-- Carrying out research and development to support U.S. government implementation, compliance and verification of arms control treaties and agreements.

-- Researching and developing capabilities for military responses to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

--Supporting military warfighters in analyzing plans and response options for both nuclear and advanced conventional weapons.

-- Carrying out DoD's Cooperative Threat Reduction program projects.

The charter revision prompted an Agency reorganization in December 1995, and the name change completes the adjustment to the expanded charter.

Maj. Gen. Gary L. Curtin is the current Director, DSWA. The Agency's headquarters is located in Alexandria, Va. DSWA Field Command is a subordinate field operating organization and is located at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, N.M. Field Command also operates the Defense Nuclear Weapons School at Kirtland and supports the Army's Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent demilitarization system on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific. The Agency reports to Harold P. Smith, Jr. the assistant to the secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.