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News | March 26, 2021

DTRA Sponsors Strategic Dialogues with Partners to Advance Common Interests and Address Mutual Threats

FORT BELVOIR, Va. --The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is exploring key, emerging challenges that will manifest over the coming decade and convey key takeaways to the DTRA workforce and Department of Defense (DoD) community. In collaboration with leading research partners, DTRA sponsors strategic dialogues outside official diplomatic channels. These events provide a venue and engagement framework for structured, but informal, discussions among U.S. and foreign subject matter experts on key strategic issues. 

“These dialogues are held under Chatham House Rules, and help the United States develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with existing allies and establish new relationships with non-traditional partners as a mechanism to compete against revisionist powers,” said Bob Peters, who leads the team that oversees the dialogues at DTRA. “Our strategic dialogues explore key issues of importance to the United States and each partner nation, and address issues that fall within DTRA’s purview such as countering weapons of mass destruction, deterrence, counter-proliferation efforts, risk reduction, grey zone tactics, and strategic security.”

The DTRA-sponsored Track-1.5, non-official and Track-2, non-governmental strategic dialogues currently focus on countering Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific. In 2021, DTRA’s strategic portfolio includes Track-1.5 bilateral dialogues between the United States and Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea. Additionally, a Track-1.5 multilateral dialogue involving the United States, Australia, India, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam is ongoing. Track-2 dialogues include bilateral engagements between the United States, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India. Participants for these engagements include former government officials, retired military officers, think tank experts, and academics from both the United States and the partner nations. Track-1.5 dialogues also feature participation from current government officials and, as appropriate, military officers in their private capacities.

Strategic dialogue serves as a possible input for future diplomatic and key leader engagements, by exploring subjects that may be too sensitive to discuss in official channels, or “testing the waters” with new ideas. Several dialogues earned accolades from senior U.S. and partner nation participants. 

“We’ve received excellent feedback from several of our research partners,” said Jennifer Perry, the DTRA strategic dialogue coordinator. “Comments passed along from some of the dialogue participants included “an unusually good workshop” and “the best Track 2 dialogue I’ve been involved in.” According to one of the dialogue leads, the strategic dialogues can “deepen relationships, complementing official bilateral engagements, and offer DTRA an opportunity to guide U.S. policymakers and warfighters on a pivotal issue set for years to come.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all events to date transitioned to virtual platforms and most are expected to remain virtual for the foreseeable future.  

“We transitioned to virtual platforms to ensure dialogue with allies and partners remained constant. Fortunately, our research partners were onboard and, in some cases, there’s been an added bonus of increased participation,” said Perry. 

The Agency, over the current three-year agenda, will work with its research partners to build upon the insights, connections, and partnerships developed in 2021 to further explore the challenges associated with an increasingly aggressive and influential China in key strategic regions. 

“We anticipate expanding our strategic dialogues to encompass more multilateral discussions with allies and partners to explore common challenges, threats, and opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region,” explained Peters.


DTRA provides cross-cutting solutions to enable the Department of Defense, the United States Government, and international partners to deter strategic attack against the United States and its allies; prevent, reduce, and counter WMD and emerging threats; and prevail against WMD-armed adversaries in crisis and conflict.  

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