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The Center was established in 1994 as the Center for Counterproliferation Research at the request of then Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter as an outgrowth of the Defense Counterproliferation Initiative. Ambassador Robert Joseph, who later served as a Special Assistant to the President on the National Security Council staff and as an Under Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, served as the Center’s first Director.
In 2001, Dr. John Reichart succeeded Ambassador Joseph as Director, and the Center expanded its research from WMD challenges to the military to encompass a full spectrum of WMD issues affecting a broad set of U.S. government departments and agencies. In 2004, the Center for Counterproliferation Research changed its name to the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction to reflect this change in mission. In 2008, pursuant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 1801.01C, the Center became the focal point for WMD education in Joint Professional Military Education. In 2015, Mr. Charles Lutes succeeded Dr. Reichart as Director, following Dr. Reichart’s retirement after more than forty years of government service.
Throughout its history, the Center has maintained a broad mandate for education, research, and outreach, and has pursued ambitious initiatives in these areas. Its research contributes to the understanding of the security implications of WMD, as well as to the challenge of fashioning effective responses. The Center is actively engaged on pressing and emerging WMD issues, such as interdiction, elimination, consequence management, deterrence, and escalation management. It also examines responses to new and evolving WMD threats, including nuclear terrorism, bioterrorism and nontraditional agents, and assists combatant commands in preparing to deal with the operational impact of chemical and biological weapons.
Through its education, research, and outreach programs, the Center seeks to enhance awareness in the next generation of military and civilian leaders of the WMD threat. In addition to the Center’s courses on countering WMD and consequence management at National Defense University, staff members also lecture on WMD issues widely and across the academic and operational spectrum. The Center is building a cadre of future leaders knowledgeable about WMD through its innovative Program for Emerging Leaders. It also administers a unique Master of Science in WMD Studies program for DoD personnel in conjunction with Missouri State University. The Center further hosts an annual symposium and monthly WMD Spotlight Seminars to address topical WMD issues, as well as other conferences, workshops, and seminars throughout the year.