Nominee Plans to Draw on Lessons From Past Threat Reduction Programs
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 13, 2009 President Barack Obama’s nominee to be assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs said yesterday he agrees with a recent report on future opportunities for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
“It’s an excellent report, and I personally endorse all the recommendations,” Andrew Weber told the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the National Academy of Sciences report during his confirmation hearing. “The most important one is that we take lessons learned from our threat reduction programs in the former Soviet Union and expand them geographically to other areas of the world.”
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is working on a determination that would allow the use of new authorities given by the committee in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Initially, the focus will be on biological threat reduction programs, Weber said.
It’s possible that these programs could be expanded into other parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia and Africa, in the future, he said.
“Another recommendation, which I fully endorse, is the need for less bureaucracy and more agility and flexibility as we implement these programs,” Weber said. “And, if confirmed for this position, I will oversee the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and will work with that agency on improving the flexibility.
“Secretary Gates has said that a 75 percent solution in months is better than a 100 percent solution in years,” he continued, “and I think that will be sort of our guiding mandate as we move forward with these programs.”
Weber currently is an advisor for threat reduction policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he is responsible for initiatives to reduce the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The former foreign service officer is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches a course on force and diplomacy in the foreign service program. He also holds a master’s degree from Georgetown and earned his bachelor’s degree at Cornell University.