Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today established the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in a ceremony near Dulles Airport where the new defense agency will initially be headquartered. DTRA is dedicated to reducing the threat to the United States and its allies from nuclear, chemical, biological, conventional and special weapons.
Speaking to an audience that included employees of the new organization, Cohen said, "Today's harsh reality is too powerful to ignore: at least 25 countries have, or are in the process of developing, nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and the means to deliver them... We must confront these threats in places like Baghdad before they come to our shores. Because America should not rush into the future without being rooted in the proven strengths of the past, we turn to you - the proven professionals."
Most of DTRA's 2,089 personnel were previously employed at organizations that merged to form the new agency. Elements of the Office of the Secretary of Defense staff, the Defense Technology Security Administration, the Defense Special Weapons Agency and the On-Site Inspection Agency were consolidated as a result of Cohen's November 1997 Defense Reform Initiative (DRI) which directed the creation of DTRA. That initiative is part of the Clinton administration's overall effort to improve government efficiency.
"I want you to know that by bringing you together we are elevating and enhancing the critical work you do; your talent, your creativity and your remarkable expertise," Cohen told the audience.
Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre called DTRA a "coherent, focused organization that will create the intellectual infrastructure for a new approach to deal with the weapons of mass destruction challenge." Hamre said, "The Agency will bring together into one organization the principal department of defense organizations with weapons-of-mass destruction expertise."
DTRA executes technology security activities; cooperative threat reduction programs; arms control treaty monitoring and on-site inspection; force protection; nuclear, biological and chemical defense and counterproliferation. The Agency supports the U.S. nuclear deterrent and provides technical support on weapons of mass destruction matters to Department of Defense organizations.
Dr. Jay Davis is the director of DTRA. The Agency's FY 99 budget is projected to be about $1.9 billion.
Additional information about DTRA is available on the DTRA website at http://www.dtra.mil.