Carter honors DTRA with award

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter presented the Joint Meritorious Unit Award to agency representatives of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency on Friday for safeguarding the U.S. from chemical, biological and radiological threats.

The award was the DTRA's fourth JMUA. Carter said that the award demonstrated the strong service of DTRA employees past and present.

"In all your work you have aggressively pursued the president's vision for countering (weapons of mass destruction) around the world," Carter said. "You've kept WMD out of the hands of terrorists by locking down dangerous nuclear and biological materials, destroying legacy weapons and developing technologies to prevent, defend against and counter a WMD attack."

The JMUA was established in 1981. The award is the only ribbon award granted by the Defense Department, serving as the organizational equivalent of the Defense Superior Service Medal.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta signed a congratulatory statement that appeared on the award certificates.

"DTRA distinguished itself by exceptionally meritorious service from October 2009 thru September 2011 by their exemplary performance of duty, the members of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency have brought great credit upon themselves and the Department of Defense," Panetta said.

During the ceremony, Carter said that the agency provides protection against terrorist organizations attempting to acquire WMDs and works with other government agencies to build capacity for biological and chemical weapon countermeasures.

"So we find ourselves today at an inflection point in our thinking and our strategy and wherever you look in that strategy you find a role for and a need for the work of DTRA," Carter said. "The department will continue to depend on you for the core intellectual, technical and operational support to counter the threat of weapons of mass destruction."

The mission of the DTRA is to protect the U.S. and its allies from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive weapons of mass destruction by providing capabilities for the reduction, elimination, countering and mitigation of the threat such weapons pose.