Defense Threat Reduction AgencyDefense Threat Reduction Agency

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DTRA Basic
Research to
Combat WMD
Thrust Areas

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Photograph of Mrs. Joan Pierre, DirectorMessage from Mrs. Joan Ma Pierre Director, Basic and Applied Sciences Department


In 2007 the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) established a new basic research program to solve the most challenging problems for reducing the threats from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The program has two interlinked principal goals:

1) Stimulate the development of innovative solutions to enable revolutionary change for achieving effective, efficient and affordable threat reduction

2) Promote the development of the next generation science and technology (S&T) workforce for combating WMD
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Thrust Area 1:  Science of WMD Sensing and Recognition
Research involves exploration of interactions between materials and electromagnetic frequencies, molecules, nuclear radiation or particles for developing techniques that generate information about the presence, identity, and/or quantity of material or energy that may indicate WMD in the environment.
Thrust Area 2:  Network Sciences
Research involves analytical or computational means to (a) derive actionable information from social networks that identify adversarial intent to acquire, distribute or use WMDs; or (b) model physical networks before, during or after attack to assist with identifying vulnerabilities, prioritizing preventive measures, and planning for consequence management and rapid reconfiguration.
Thrust Area 3:  Science for Protection
Research involves fundamental investigations to advance the knowledge of physical, biological, chemical, and engineering sciences to protect personnel, sensitive electronic systems, and structural infrastructure from the effects of weapons of mass destruction.  Protection includes both passive and active defense against threats.
Thrust Area 4:  Science to Defeat WMD
Research involves the creation of new energetic materials or physical approaches that enhance the defeat of WMDs by orders of magnitude, the improvement of modeling and simulation of these materials and various phenomena that affect success and estimate the impact (lethality) of defeat actions, and assessing event characteristics using various dynamic analytical methods.  Basic science to defeat WMD involves furthering the understanding of explosives, their detonation, and problems associated with accessing target WMDs.
Thrust Area 5:  Science to Secure WMD
Research involves monitoring and securing WMD using innovative techniques to neutralize chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) materials and components, discovery of revolutionary means to secure components and weapon-usable materials, and studies of scientific principles that lead to novel physical tags or other methods to monitor compliance and disrupt proliferation pathways. Read more…

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Strategic Plans
View the DTRA Strategic Plan
Technical Reviews
Link to the 2014 Technical Review Web Site
See last year’s 2014 BRTR Agenda .