By Buddy Blouin
A lot happened during World War II, and one of the events that had a lasting impression on the world as we know it was The Manhattan Project. Fast forward to today, and we continue to work on preventing the use of the very weapons we birthed into existence as a show of force and assurance of peace. One major initiative that even has ties to the same origins of nuclear weaponry is the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Featuring more than 2,000 employees, this portion of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) works to monitor and stop weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) through nuclear deterrence and other means.

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The Defense Threat Reduction Agency Protects Against WMDs

At its core, the focus of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency continues to be protecting the United States of America from WMDs. This includes the following:
  • Deterring the use of such weapons, including nuclear devices.
  • Preventing threats involving WMDs against America and its allies.
  • Prevailing against enemies with WMDs both during a conflict as well as other unrelated threatening events.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Fort Belvoir, VA, operates under the DoD and with every branch of the U.S. military. However, because of the nature of these threats, there are several locations around the world outside of its headquarters.

More Than Just Nukes

There are no two ways about it; the role that the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency plays in keeping Americans safe from nuclear weapons is a big one. It’s an important job and, frankly, helps save the lives of billions, many of whom don’t even call our country home. But there are more threats that exist which can cause massive damage to the populations of the U.S. and the planet as a whole. For example, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency recently partnered with the Kazakhstan Ministry of Health to conduct biosafety and biosecurity stakeholder engagements. This is a prime case in which collaboration for the greater good comes together. We’ve all seen the effects that being ill-prepared for a biological event can bring. The economic, social, and geopolitical ramifications of COVID-19 continue to be felt throughout the world. Biological and chemical weapons have the ability to cause severe damage in a similar way, albeit through a direct, coordinated attack on our nation’s population. Such threats come from but are not limited to terrorists and rogue nations at odds with our government. The DRTA has played a role in helping provide vaccines and treatment for Ebola, destroying Syrian chemical weapons, the removal of yellowcake uranium from Iraq, and other initiatives. This includes its newly formed Discovery of Medical Countermeasures Against Novel Entities (DOMANE) program.

Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Focus as Tensions Rise

To say that we are close to going to nuclear war would feel irresponsible, and yet to say that the possibility is more likely than it has been since the Cold War feels more and more like the ugly truth. Political tensions are rising across the globe, and the threat of using WMDs continues to be a trending topic as of late. For years, the idea of North Korea or Iran using such weapons was a top concern, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrust its nuclear capabilities back into the spotlight. We don’t know what would become of a nuclear war in the sense that we’ve never had an all-out fight with dueling, capable nations in this regard. A part of that is thanks to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, so, hopefully, we never will.

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