J. William Sutcliffe

J. William Sutcliffe


I began my education as a historian while a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy.  Having since served ten years as a commissioned officer, I am pleased to continue my studies as a postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds.  Upon completing my doctorate, I will return to the Air Force Academy as a history instructor to educate the next generation of military leaders.

Research interests

My core research interest, and the reason why I came to the University of Leeds, is to examine France’s motivations for pursuing nuclear weapons during the period of the Fourth Republic (1946 – 1958).  While acknowledging the traditional explanations for France’s mid-century nuclearization, I draw upon more recent theories of nuclear proliferation to examine the incentives of the civil servants and military officers who played essential roles in France’s development as a nuclear power.

Beyond the context of my present research, my interests extend to the history of nuclear deterrence in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as to the history of the NATO alliance more broadly. 


  • B.Sci., History, United States Air Force Academy, 2008
  • M.B.A., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2012