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DTRA Hosts Great Power Competition Symposium

DTRA Hosts Great Power Competition Symposium

Story by Andrea Chaney on 09/16/2019

Great Power Competition Symposium Implications for DoD, The Joint Force and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency
By Andi Chaney, DTRA Public Affairs Office

FORT BELVOIR, Va.The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) hosted a Great Power Competition (GPC) symposium with panelists including senior leadership from the Agency and subject matter experts from inter-agency, academia, policy and war-fighting communities who have direct experience in the rising challenges of China and Russia state actors. The 2018 National Defense Strategy identified the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition with China and Russia as the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security.

The event, put on by DTRA’s Strategic Trends Office (STO) was the first in a new series of symposia that provided an important platform for serious discussions with an incredibly knowledgeable and experienced group of professionals and demonstrated DTRA’s role as a thought leader within the national security establishment.

The symposium included a keynote address delivered by Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation, Dr. Christopher Ford followed by several in-depth panel discussions on China and Russia with guests from outside the Agency. The final panel, which included former combatant commanders Adm. Kurt Tidd of U.S. Southern Command and Gen. Joseph Votel of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, provided the perspective of DTRA’s primary customer, the warfighter.

One of the issues explored over the course of the symposium was to determine what the strategic objectives of Russia and China over the next decade are. One perspective voiced was that China seeks to replace the US-led international order with one that primarily benefits their interests at the expense of others. Another perspective was that Russia is less concerned with a grand strategy for upending the international order than seeking opportunities to exploit the weaknesses of the current one for their benefit.

Discussions from the panelists also touched on the implications of great power competition for the mission at DTRA, which is to enable DoD, the U.S. Government, and international partners to counter and deter WMD and improvised-threat networks. DTRA is focused on supporting the warfighter, and the Agency looks specifically at ways it can help Combatant Commanders in facing the challenges of Russia and China in their areas of responsibility. Once of the principal ways DTRA does that now is through its robust relationships with allies and partners; the Agency must look for ways expand and deepen its partnerships. Another way that DTRA supports the warfighter is by providing tools and analysis that enable Combatant Commanders to understand how adversaries operate in the gray zone, and check their malign activities; the Agency must continue to operationalize the Countering Threat Network (CTN) methodology to increase this much-needed support.

For more information on DTRA, its mission and capabilities, visit


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