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New Defense Threat Reduction Agency Takes the Lead 
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
21 July 1998
BRUSSELS, Belgium - In the past, the Defense Department's mission 
was clear-cut: maintain strong forces capable of defeating any 
and all challengers. Today, its mission extends far beyond simply 
preparing for the battlefield. 
Threat reduction now represents a primary defense mission, Deputy 
Defense Secretary John Hamre said, and this fall, a new agency 
will lead DoD's threat reduction program. This relatively new 
mission involves preventing potential foes from developing the 
means to challenge the United States. Just as preventive medicine 
aims to stop the spread of disease, preventive defense aims to 
stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. 
The Soviet collapse started in 1989 and created a need for threat 
reduction, Hamre explained at the Defense Special Weapons 
Agency's 7th Annual International Conference on Controlling Arms 
in Philadelphia, in June. 
Soviet military knowledge and tools suddenly became available to 
others in an unsettling way, he said. The prospect of rogue 
states and terrorists obtaining former Soviet nuclear weapons and 
technology concerned U.S. officials. They foresaw nations trying 
to level the field with stronger neighbors by turning to nuclear, 
chemical and biological weapons.
Hamre said this scenario created "a scary picture for everyone, 
not just the United States." Proliferation would be detrimental 
to Russia's security, as well as to others in the region, he 
said.
U.S. Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar sponsored a bill that 
launched the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, also known as 
the Nunn-Lugar Program, in 1991. Congress allocated funds to help 
dismantle and remove nuclear warheads in Russia and three other 
former Soviet states. Kazakhstan became nuclear free in 1995, 
followed by Belarus and Ukraine in 1996. 
With U.S. help, Russian defense officials safely dismantled and 
moved more than 24,000 warheads to a central storage site. The 
Cooperative Threat Reduction Program also helped find nonmilitary 
jobs for some 15,000 former Soviet weapons scientists and 
engineers. The program also linked former Soviet defense 
companies with American partners to make commercial products.
Several Defense Department offices and agencies became involved 
in aspects of the program over the years. Last fall, Hamre said, 
as defense leaders set out to streamline the department, they 
realized no national security mission would be more important 
over the next decade than threat reduction. And, he said, they 
concluded the department was poorly organized to deal with it. 
"We were not organized in an integrated way to deal with this 
comprehensive problem." 
Hence, he said, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency will merge 
the following DoD offices and agencies:
o Defense Special Weapons Agency.
o On-Site Inspection Agency.
o Defense Technical Security Administration.
o Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for 
Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.
o Office of the Deputy Director Arms Control Implementation and 
Compliance.
o Office of the Director, Strategic and Tactical Systems.
The agency is slated to become operational Oct. 1, Hamre said. 
"It's going to take a little bit of time to make the transition . 
because we're going to consolidate into a single space, and that 
does entail relocation and turmoil."
The agency will have three primary missions. First, it will 
maintain the current nuclear deterrent capability. "That is still 
one of the most important challenges we face," Hamre noted. "We 
still have, and always will have, a large infrastructure of 
nuclear capability. We have to husband that, and we have to 
maintain the intellectual infrastructure to support it."
Whereas the best and the brightest sought to work with the 
Defense Special Weapons Agency in the past, Hamre said, there has 
been a significant loss of interest in this career field over the 
last eight years or so. "Nuclear weapons aren't going away, as 
much as we would wish it," he said. "We can't afford to lose our 
intellectual competence in dealing with it."
The agency's second mission is to reduce the nuclear threat. This 
includes monitoring arms control treaties and supporting ongoing 
confidence-building measures established over the last 10 years 
by the On-Site Inspection Agency. "It's on that root stock, as it 
were, we're going to graft the Cooperative Threat Reduction 
program, for example," Hamre said.
The third mission is to counter the threat from chemical and 
biological weapons. "We do not have the intellectual 
infrastructure for chemical and biological threats the way we 
have for nuclear threats," Hamre said. "We spent a long time 
thinking about nuclear weapons."
The department is somewhat further along dealing with chemical 
weapons than biological ones because of its chemical weapons 
protection program in the mid-1980s, Hamre noted. But "we still 
have a long way to go" in both areas, he said.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency will become "the central 
nervous system for America's counterproliferation plans and 
preparation," Hamre concluded. "We have to have an organization 
that can . study the threat, what it will look like, and how you 
deal with it."
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