The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA’s) Research and Development (R&D) Directorate (J9) employs a dedicated workforce to counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) worldwide. With personnel geographically dispersed and addressing a variety of mission types and priorities, J9’s leaders needed a way to connect the team, deliver mandatory and professional development training, exchange information, address employee issues from past Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys, and develop a deeper understanding of the broader DTRA mission. Observing DTRA’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program’s implementation of training weeks, the J9 Chief of Staff decided that a five-day training week would benefit the J9 team, satisfying many of the annual training requirements and offering professional development while allowing for the much needed connections sought by DTRA leadership.
Engility’s J9 Advisory and Assistance Services (A&AS) team was tasked to coordinate and execute J9’s first-ever training week. To ensure the event would be a great success, the Engility team conducted surveys and interviews with supervisors and the workforce, obtained guidance from DTRA directorates to compile mandatory and elective training needs, and collaborated with CTR to build on their training week strategy and approach. Our team coordinated with stakeholders (including other DTRA Directorates and other DOD agencies) to secure the trainers, facilities, and resources needed to properly carry out the event. For instance, the IT Directorate determined the best methods for streaming audio and sharing presentations with participants who could not attend in person.
Once the subject matter was agreed upon, Engility collaborated with individual briefers on their presentations, including senior DoD leadership and one of the U.S. warfighters involved in the downed Blackhawk incident in Somalia. The Engility team arranged for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense, his deputies, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to present their perspectives on current threats to national security and DTRA’s R&D role in mitigating them. The team also worked with DTRA’s Human Resources Directorate to schedule presenters from the Brookings Institution to present their highly regarded course on managing federal employees. We worked with the Intelligence Community to present a series of classified WMD threat briefings. The team also arranged with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to provide a presentation on its approach to innovation, and for the Special Operations Command to discuss the linkage between research and development and their unique mission. The team leveraged the resources of the Engility Corporation by arranging for access to company-owned secure spaces for classified briefings, and demonstrated the benefit of corporate reach-back by tapping expert course designers from other contracts to assist in planning, executing, and assessing the training week.
The training, which reached more than 200 military and civilian DTRA personnel, delivered mandatory and optional topics in just one week—instead of taking a year. The first-time event fostered collaboration and mission awareness among the participants, enhancing the effectiveness of the DTRA J9 team to accomplish its countering weapons of mass destruction R&D mission. The success lays the groundwork for future training weeks that will equip DTRA to better maintain national security and make the world safer from WMD.