Global Insights: Opportunities and Challenges Await New DTRA Director

Global Insights: Opportunities and Challenges Await New DTRA Director

President Barack Obama's praiseworthy effort to establish a bipartisan national security team, epitomized by his decision to maintain Robert Gates as secretary of defense, continued with his and Gates' appointment of Kenneth A. Myers III as the new director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Myers previously worked on the personal staff of Sen. Richard Lugar, who himself has a long history of reaching across the aisle to build bipartisan coalitions on behalf of various national security initiatives. Along with then-Sen. Sam Nunn, Lugar helped launch the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program at the Defense Department in 1991. In combination with related programs in the departments of Energy and State, CTR has provided expertise and funding for diverse projects seeking to secure and eliminate excess weapons, materials and technologies -- nuclear, chemical and biological -- inherited by the former Soviet republics at the end of the Cold War.

Since 2003, Myers has been a senior staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, specializing in European security, nonproliferation, and arms control. In this capacity, Myers worked closely with Sen. Lugar to expand the CTR program beyond the former Soviet republics. The two men also collaborated to increase the authorities and funding available to the program as well as DTRA, whose annual budget now amounts to $2.8 billion. The 2003 Nunn-Lugar Expansion Act authorized the use of CTR funds to address weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats outside the former Soviet Union. The following year, CTR funds paid for the destruction of newly discovered chemical weapons in Albania, a project that was concluded in 2007.

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