The National Defense University (NDU) was established in 1976 for the purpose of consolidating the defense community intellectual resources of the nation. It is the premier center for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) and is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. It is comprised of five colleges including the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), the National War College (NWC), the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), the Information Resources Management College (IRMC), and the College of International Security Affairs (CISA).

NDU’s educational mission includes the research aspect thus several research centers have been established for this purpose. The Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) was established as a policy research and applied strategic learning organization. The Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction has provided information to US government agencies to better understand the implications as to security of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The Center for Technology and National Security Policy studies the implication of technological innovations in relation to US National Security Policy as well as military planning.

As an accredited graduate level university, NDU offers its programs to officers requiring training for joint command and staff duties, national security professionals, and future leaders of the Armed Forces, State Department and other civilian agencies handling high-level policy, command and staff responsibilities. NDU also offers specialized programs for newly selected general and flag officers as well as international students and civilian executives.

The NDU campus is located on the grounds of the Fort Lesley J. McNair in Southwest Washington DC, on the point of land where the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers join together. Fort McNair has served as the headquarters of the US Army Military District of Washington since 1966.