SANDS finds a new home at Air University

  • Published
  • By Staff Sergeant Christopher Horton
  • Air University Public Affairs

The School of Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies recently relocated from Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, to Air University’s Air Command and Staff College.

SANDS is the Air Force’s premier program on strategic deterrence. The student body consists of tactical nuclear experts from the Air Force, joint and civilian service as well as coalition partners. 

“The purpose of SANDS is to build a core of Deterrence Operations experts who will serve as key leaders, advocates, and advisors to war fighting commanders,” said Dr. Melvin Deaile, director of SANDS. “They will have direct input and advise key leaders on deterrence options as it deals with national defense.”

Students are immersed in deterrence theory as well as the technical and strategic aspect of nuclear operations. The course includes four terms of classroom instruction with  lectures from current and past senior nuclear leaders. The program culminates in an overseas trip to gain firsthand knowledge of partnerships and interactions with allies. This academic year, the students will be visiting several North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.

Deaile says that the goal is for students to serve as deterrence operations experts once they graduate. The academic year culminates in a joint warfighting exercise bringing together cross domain deterrence operations as well as joint planning preparations if deterrence should fail. Each student is required to write a 30-50 page graduate thesis on a topic of interest in the nuclear enterprise, deterrence theory or cross-domain deterrence strategies.

“Nuclear Deterrence is a national priority and this program seeks to educate and grow leaders in a mission area that is vital to the defense and security of the United States, our allies and partners,” said Deaile.