Rebecca Hersman

Director
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Rebecca Hersman is the director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and senior adviser for the International Security Program. Ms. Hersman joined CSIS in April 2015 from the Department of Defense (DOD), where she served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD) since 2009. In this capacity, she led DOD policy and strategy to prevent WMD proliferation and use, reduce and eliminate WMD risks and respond to WMD dangers. Ms. Hersman was a key leader on issues ranging from the nuclear security summit to the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons to the global health security agenda. She served as DOD’s principal policy advocate on issues pertaining to the Biological Weapons Convention, Chemical Weapons Convention, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

Prior to joining DOD, Ms. Hersman was a senior research fellow with the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University from 1998 to 2009. Her primary projects focused on the role of DOD in mitigating the effects of chemical and biological weapons attack, concepts and strategies for eliminating an adversary’s WMD programs, as well as proliferation issues facing the United States. Ms. Hersman also founded and directed the WMD Center’s Program for Emerging Leaders, an initiative designed to shape and support the next generation of leaders from across the U.S. government with interest in countering weapons of mass destruction.

Ms. Hersman previously held positions as an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee professional staff. She holds an M.A. in Arab studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Duke University.

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Authored by Rebecca Hersman

The Adversary Gets a Vote

As the Department of Defense (DoD) further develops integrated deterrence as its overarching strategic concept, it will become increasingly important to appreciate the stability risks and benefits associated with emerging intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, from both an arms-race and crisis-management perspective.

Reading the Nuclear Tea Leaves: Policy and Posture in the Biden Administration

The nuclear policy community is once again in the grips of pervasive anxiety that U.S. nuclear policy—encompassing force modernization decisions, declaratory policy, and perceptions of adversary nuclear threat and risk—is either about to dramatically change or fail to change as dramatically as it should. In a polarized community characterized by mistrust and a highly politicized…

Deep Dive Debrief: Strategic Stability and Competition in the Arctic

This brief reflects discussions and insights from a deep dive workshop convened by PONI at Kings Bay Submarine Base on strategic stability and great power competition in the Arctic. This brief focuses on how climate, economic, and political trends in the Arctic region impact U.S. strategic interests, and the implications of these trends for nuclear stability, policy, and posture.

Wormhole Escalation in the New Nuclear Age

Increasingly capable and intrusive digital information technologies, advanced dual-use military capabilities, and diffused global power structures will reshape future crises and conflicts between nuclear-armed adversaries and challenge traditional ways of thinking about escalation and stability. This emerging security environment will require new concepts and tools to manage the risk of unintended escalation and reduce nuclear dangers.