FORT BELVOIR, Virginia − Senior military leaders, representatives from some of the closest U.S. allies, and members of the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee were joined by other experts at the 15th Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Global Synchronization Conference (GSC) this week at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on Fort Belvoir.
The semi-annual GSC, hosted by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency/U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (DTRA/SCC-WMD), started in 2008 and brings together hundreds of experts and senior leaders from the military services, the Pentagon, other U.S. government agencies, and allied nations to share ideas, information, and coordinate U.S.-led efforts to combat WMD around the world.
“Quite frankly, the countering WMD threats mission has gotten harder,” said DTRA/SCC-WMD Acting Director Shari Durand. “During the Cold War, most of our focus was on nation states. We were worried about huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons. While we remain concerned about the acquisition of weapons by state actors, an emerging concern is terrorist or violent extremist group acquisition of WMD materials that could be stolen, modified, or enhanced for use as a weapon.”
Durand was joined at the conference by Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of USSTRATCOM; Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command; Gen. Raymond Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM); Rear Adm. Scott Jerabek, deputy director of DTRA/SCC-WMD; and representatives from partner nations.
This was the last GSC to be held under the current organization and under the leadership of Haney − the SCC-WMD currently falls under USSTRATCOM and Haney, but will soon move under USSOCOM and Gen. Thomas. Durand took time to recognize Haney""s leadership, guidance, and support of the CWMD mission and the GSC, and noted that DTRA/SCC-WMD will still maintain a strong relationship with Haney and USSTRATCOM.
“I see this change as a step forward and as progress in increasing our capability and perhaps capacity to better counter weapons of mass destruction,” Haney said. “Countering weapons of mass destruction is not just a DoD problem. It relies on the interagency and the intelligence community, as well as the international community at large.”
“Countering WMD threats must be performed on a larger scale than just one single institution,” Durand said. “Success requires collaboration, communication, and creating systems and processes which allow for synchronization to truly occur. It also requires a forum to facilitate coordination and to get the right experts in the room in the right working groups to work through problems to an agreeable solution.”
The three-day conference included a senior leader table top exercise dealing with a realistic scenario involving weapons of mass destruction, several information panels designed to enhance interagency and international coordination, and a variety of small group activities and presentations aimed at building new relationships and strengthening existing relationships.