William M. Arkin Biography


February 13, 2007

William M. Arkin writes the "Early Warning" blog for washingtonpost.com. He is the author of a number of books on military affairs, an NBC-TV News military analyst and has consulted for numerous organizations. He was an Army intelligence analyst in West Berlin during the 1970s, and studied nuclear weapons and weapons policy during the Cold War. He conducted on-the-ground studies of the effects of military operations in Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan.

Arkin's latest book -- Codenames: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World -- was published in January 2005 by Steerforth Press. His Dot.Mil column appeared every other Monday on washingtonpost.com from 1998 until January, 2003. For the spring, 2007 semester, he is the National Security and Human Rights Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Previously, Arkin served as Senior Military Adviser to Human Rights Watch, the largest international human rights and law organization in the United States, and was a columnist for The Los Angeles Times. From 1985 - 2002, he wrote the "Last Word" column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and co-authored the bi-monthly NRDC "Nuclear Notebook." He contributed to the yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) from 1984 - 2002, was a contributing editor for Laser Report and has written on technical military matters for the trade newsletter Defense Daily. Arkin also served previously as a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Strategic Education at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, and was an Adjunct at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, U.S. Air Force, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

Arkin served in the U.S. Army as an intelligence analyst in West Berlin from 1974 - 1978. After leaving the Army, he co-authored the first volume of the Nuclear Weapons Databook series for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an unclassified reference book on nuclear weapons, which the Reagan administration sought to suppress on secrecy grounds. He then co-authored Nuclear Battlefields in 1985, revealing the locations of all U.S. and foreign nuclear bases worldwide. Nuclear Battlefields was also condemned by the Reagan Administration.

Arkin toured Germany to research the presence of nuclear weapons in the 1980s, research which became the basis for a description of the Cold War nuclear legacy of thousands of weapons deployed on West German soil. He was a member of the first ever private delegation to observe Soviet nuclear warheads as part of the NRDC-Soviet Academy of Sciences "Black Sea" experiment in 1989, and he was one of the first westerners to visit a Soviet nuclear weapons storage site, in June, 1991. Since Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Arkin has also conducted bomb damage assessments on the ground in Iraq, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Eritrea, visiting more than 800 targets that have been the subject of attack.

From 1981-1993, Arkin worked at a number of non-governmental think tanks and organizations in Washington. In the late 1980s, Arkin conceived Greenpeace International's "Nuclear Free Seas" campaign. He authored or co-authored seven research papers in the Neptune Papers monograph series and supervised a staff of researchers who tracked naval nuclear weapons worldwide. The revelation of routine U.S. carriage of nuclear weapons and the violation of numerous countries ban on nuclear port visits contributed to a Bush administration decision in 1990 to remove tactical nuclear weapons from U.S. ships and submarines.

Arkin headed Greenpeace International's war response team in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and co-authored On Impact -- Modern Warfare and the Environment: A Case of the Gulf War, the first comprehensive study of the civilian and environmental effects of the war. In 1991 and in 1993, Arkin visited Iraq to evaluate civilian damage as part of the so-called "Harvard Study Team", conducting on-the-ground bomb damage assessments after the war. He served as military advisor to a United Nations fact-finding mission in Israel and Lebanon in 2006.

Arkin has briefed the findings of his investigations before a number of government audiences, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the CIA, various offices on the Air Staff and various senior service schools and war colleges, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, naval intelligence, the Central Air Forces (CENTAF) staff, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Photographic Interpretation Center, the Joint Warfare Analysis Center (JWAC), and various "Lessons Learned" projects (Operation Enduring Look, the Gulf War Air Power Survey (GWAPS), Center for Naval Analysis). Arkin has also served as a consultant on Iraq to the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Arkin is author or co-author of several books, and has authored or co-authored more than 500 articles and conference papers on military affairs, as well as chapters in more than two dozen edited books. His articles have appeared in The Nation, military journals (Airpower Journal, Army, Marine Corps Gazette), as well as in academic publications.

Arkin has lectured regularly at college campuses, at World Affairs Councils, at the military war colleges, and to local organizations and groups throughout the U.S. and in thirteen foreign countries. His books have been translated into Chinese, German, Russian, Spanish, and Japanese. He is listed in Who's Who in America.

E-mail Arkin at warkin@igc.org.

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