The dual-hatted director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the USSTRATCOM Center for Combating WMD testified before members of Congress yesterday to lay out a Fiscal Year 2017 budget request and provide examples of how the agency is successfully eliminating the threats posed by chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) weapons of mass destruction.
Kenneth A. Myers appeared at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities with two colleagues from the Pentagon, Dr. Arthur T. Hopkins, performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs, and Dr. Wendin D. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction.
DTRA’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2017 is approximately $1.2 billion, Myers explained, but the agency also executes the $361 million Science and Technology portion of the DoD’s Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP), manages the rest of the CBDP’s $833 million budget, and will soon take over more than $400 million in overseas contingency operations funds requested for the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Fund when the Joint IED Defeat Organization merges with DTRA. When those items are included, DTRA’s budget portfolio grows to nearly $3 billion.
“Nearly every year since 2011, we have faced another WMD crisis. These are not necessarily situations that can be easily budgeted or planned,” said Myers. “In these cases, we are forced to surge our efforts and reprioritize resources from more steady-state types of activities.”
The recent events in Syria, Myers said, led to DTRA efforts to help protect key U.S. allies and partners in the Middle East. “This work [the Jordan Border Security Program] is now more important than ever given the rise of ISIS, the clear use of chemical weapons, and the well-known intention of terrorists to utilize any WMD material against the United States and our allies,” said Myers, adding that DTRA’s CBRN Preparedness Program, or CP2, also “provides assistance to the military and civilian first responder organizations of designated Partner Nations, to include Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey, which border Syria.”
Myers also updated the Committee on how the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency (JIDA) is being brought under DTRA. The 2016 NDA directed that JIDA transition to a military department or existing agency. “I can assure the Committee that the Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices and the CWMD missions will be preserved and enhanced under this transition,” said Myers.
Myers provided details on the agency’s R&D efforts, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, and Operations and Maintenance funding before taking questions from Committee members.