The History of the NCB Office

The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 established the civilian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to replace the Manhattan Project. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 established the DoD Military Liaison Committee (MLC) to coordinate military requirements with the AEC. The MLC functioned as the authorized channel of communication between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) on all atomic energy matters relating to the military applications of atomic weapons or atomic energy. The committee addressed matters of policy, programming, and commitment of funds to the military application of atomic energy


In 1951, the Secretary of Defense moved the MLC to the Pentagon and designated its chairman as the Deputy to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy Matters. In 1953, this position was re-designated under DoD Directive 5130.2 as the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy (ATSD(AE)).


From 1982-1996, the role of the ATSD(AE) expanded to include issues associated with chemical and biological weapons, the implementation of arms control treaties and agreements, counterproliferation programs, and the coordination of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, which assists in the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the former Soviet states. Additionally, in 1994, the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) was placed under the oversight of the ATSD(AE). DNA is now known as the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).


As part of the 1996 Defense Authorization Act, the ATSD(AE) became the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs (ATSD(NCB)), reflecting the expanded mission of the organization and more accurately describing its multiple functions.


Between 1997 and 2001, the Administration declined to nominate anyone to serve as the ATSD(NCB), having determined, as part of the Defense Reform Initiative, that the position should be eliminated. Congress, however, maintained that the position was necessary to ensure appropriate senior-level policy oversight and implementation guidance within the Department.


While the ATSD(NCB) position was vacant, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) assumed the responsibilities of the ATSD(NCB). The USD(AT&L) delegated many of the ATSD(NCB) nuclear weapons-related duties to the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) until November 2001, when the ATSD(NCB) position was again filled.


In 2001, the ATSD(NCB) position was filled by the Senate-confirmed appointment of Dr. Dale Klein. Dr. Klein held the ATSD(NCB) position until June 30, 2006, when he left to become the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. From June 2006 until August 2008, Dr. A. Thomas Hopkins served as the acting ATSD(NCB). In August 2008, the Senate confirmed Mr. Fred Celec as the ATSD(NCB). Most recently, on May 18, 2009, The Honorable Mr. Andrew C. Weber was confirmed as the ATSD(NCB). In January 2011, Congress redesignated the ATSD position as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs (ASD(NCB)).