WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2016 — On Sept. 30 the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency, originally a task force known as the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, became part of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, according to a defense official.
The move was directed by Congress in Section 1532 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016.
Section 1532 rejected a March 2015 move by the Defense Department to make JIEDDO -- whose name was changed in April 2015 to the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency, or JIDA -- a new combat support agency under the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.
The joint explanatory statement that accompanied the 2016 NDAA cited congressional “concerns” about the transition and instead required “a new strategy and implementation plan … that would provide for a more streamlined approach to integrating the roles, missions and activities of … JIDA into an existing military department.”
In February 2016 DTRA was chosen as the military department under which JIDA would perform its mission to protect the warfighter by countering improvised threats.
The missions of DTRA and the co-located U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction are to safeguard the United States and its allies from weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives. DTRA also provides capabilities to reduce, eliminate and counter the threats and mitigate their effects.
As the legislation required, the transition of 255 civilians and 110 military personnel under DTRA was completed Sept. 30, DTRA Acting Director Shari Durand told DoD News in a recent interview.
The effort began in February, she added, and was extensive.
“With 400 plus people -- all the systems involved and for the civilians all the pay systems -- all of it had to be changed. We had to make information systems talk to one another. It was a huge and heavy lift and the focus has been that there can't be any degradation to the support that we are providing to the warfighter,” Durand said.
That has been on the forefront of everyone's mind, she added, “that all this has to be done in the background and the mission can't suffer.”
Countering Threats to Warfighters
DTRA calls its new component the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, or JIDO. DTRA is based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and JIDO is based in Reston, Virginia, and will stay there for now, Durand said. Both organizations have personnel in the field in countries worldwide.
“As an agency we now have the responsibility for [weapons of mass destruction] threats and improvised threats to the warfighter. So it will all be here at DTRA,” Durand said.
JIDO’s mission, according to DTRA’s August 2016 report to Congress on the JIDO transition plan, is to enable DoD actions to counter improvised threats with tactical responsiveness.
This is done, the report said, through rapid acquisition supporting combatant command efforts to prepare for and adapt to battlefield surprise in fighting counterterrorism, counter-insurgency and related areas, including counter-improvised explosive devices.
“Right now there are clear distinctions in the mission space for JIDO and for DTRA. You can think of it in terms of JIDO … looking at immediate threats to the warfighter on the battlefield. DTRA’s [scope can be] longer-term,” Durand added.
The organizations began talking a year before Congress directed the DTRA transition, the director said, just after the Defense Department decided to make JIDA a combat support agency under AT&L.
“A year ago we were helping JIDA learn what it's like to be a defense agency and were helping to stand them up and be a sister agency,” she explained, adding that JIDA officials “asked for DTRA’s assistance in learning what it's like to put a budget together, to stand up a human resources shop, those types of things.”
The JIDA transition as an element under DTRA was nothing DTRA expected, Durand said, but the missions fit.
“Both organizations deal with threats against the warfighter,” she added. “They're very different problem sets, vitally important to the warfighter, the nation and our allies. There are some overlapping customers and I think there are capabilities that we can leverage and that we’ll learn more about as the integration takes place over time.”
Given the technical capabilities inherent in DTRA and JIDO, the director said she knows synergies exist that the organizations haven’t yet fully exploited.
“As we start the learning process and understand more what each organization is doing,” Durand said, “that's when I think the greatest capabilities and the greatest synergy will come, and that will benefit the warfighter tremendously.”
Taking two distinct organizations and putting one under the other is a challenge and a cultural change and will take time, she added.
“We will make it work and I think it will work to the department's benefit. It will just take some time to do the integration,” the director said. “But it's certainly the right fit.”(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)