DTSA Leadership Blog

Message from New DTSA Director

Image of Former DTSA Director Heidi Grant

The Defense Technology Security Administration serves a vital role in the international transfer of military and commercial (dual-use) goods and technology and in protecting critical information in support of US national security. Our mission is directly aligned with both the US National Security Strategy and US National Defense Strategy. As the new Director, I want to share insights into my leadership intent and the direction of DTSA. We will: 1) ensure critical US military technological advantages are preserved; 2) build partner capability and capacity and 3) preserve the US industrial base.

The culture of DTSA adheres to a PARTNER philosophy internally and in all interactions with US Government, industry, international partners and other stakeholders. We are: Proactive in how we manage challenges and opportunities; Accountable for ourselves and our organization; Respectful to the culture, background, and dignity of all people; Transparent--knowing we are doing the right things; Networked because we invest in building relationships while strengthening existing alliances and attracting new partners; Empowered to fulfill our role in supporting our mission as a valued professional; and Representative in how we portray ourselves and exemplify our organization.

We serve the greatest nation on earth. It is important to strengthen our competitive military advantage and be agile in supporting US national security efforts. US warfighters depend on the DTSA team to ensure the US secures and retains the technological and asymmetrical edge to compete, deter and win against any adversary in any operating domain. Allies and partners who serve alongside us on the battlefield depend on us to partner with them in building their own capabilities and capacity. Together we will address global security challenges in order to maintain a favorable global balance of power.

2018 In the Rear View

Image stating in the rear view

DTSA closed 2018 out with another extraordinarily productive year. I could not be more grateful and impressed by our team’s ability to meet increased demands while sustaining high quality work despite encumbering reduced resources and timelines. We were faced with legislative challenges, resource shortfalls, and leadership changes. Repeatedly, our professional experts continued to put mission first, focusing on implementing the National Defense Strategy.

Just to highlight some of our 2018 accomplishments, DTSA:

  • Led DoD efforts in adjudicating 46,119 direct commercial sales technology transfer (export) requests for controlled U.S. defense articles and dual-use items. We also adjudicated nearly 381 Commodity Jurisdiction requests resolving complex regulatory control over advanced defense articles and dual-use technologies having a direct impact on national security and the warfighter’s technological edge.
  • Advanced Department of Defense and capacity building agendas through bilateral engagements and dialogues including the Cooperative Technology Security Program.
  • Negotiated and concluded General Security of Information Agreements with Montenegro and a General Security of Military Information Agreement with Brunei.
  • In addition to Departments of State and Commerce licenses, DTSA’s technical staff reviewed 340 Public Release Security Reviews, 230 Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. fillings, and participated in 30 Technical Interchange Meetings and monitored two Launch Campaigns, encompassing 190 days TDY. They provided expert testimony on four criminal cases resulting in five guilty pleas and one conviction.

It was an honor to serve as the acting Director for the last five months. As we enter 2019, I hand the reigns over to our new Director, Ms. Heidi Grant. Ms. Grant is coming to us from the Air Force International Affairs office, SAF/IA, and brings a wealth of experience in working with interagency partners, industry, and international stakeholders. Under her leadership, DTSA will continue to enhance the protection of critical #DefenseTech and #InfoSec in support of national security efforts identified in the National Defense Strategy.

An Old Classic Gets Better with Time


A couple of months ago, a long-time employee of DTSA stopped by for an "out brief" with DTSA Deputy Director Mike Laychak and me. This employee was retiring after 38 years of dedicated Federal Service, with 34 years at DTSA. During our discussion, he handed us a copy of a DoD Directive dated in 1984, "International Transfers of Technology, Articles and Services."

This instruction was published at the same time that then Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger established the Defense Technology Security Administration.

Over the years, while DTSA has been aligned to different parts of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the overall mission of DTSA has remained steadfast.

Interestingly, some of the words in that 1984 instruction are still relevant, and perhaps even more imperative today – specifically, preserve the U.S. military technological superiority; establish and maintain interoperability with allies and coalition partners; and give special attention to rapidly emerging and changing technologies.

The National Defense Strategy provides clear direction on what we need to do – prepare for long-term, strategic great power competition. As such, we must invest in new technologies to enhance the lethality of our military forces, with specific emphasis on modernizing key technologies. We must also protect against the possibility that cutting-edge military technology might become available to adversaries. We must work collaboratively with other countries to ensure a shared view of the threat posed by China and Russia to acquire technology, both through legal and illicit means.

I am confident that DTSA's leadership of export control, protection of emerging and critical technology, and bilateral and multilateral partnerships with friends and allies, will directly contribute to these important tasks. When I departed in July for a new professional opportunity, I left confident knowing that DTSA is in "good hands" under the able leadership of Mike Laychak. He will ensure DTSA’s classic mission will remain steadfast and vigilant, keeping up with the changing times.

National Defense Strategy – Full Alignment to DTSA’s Core

In my years of Federal Service, especially as a member of the Senior Executive Service, I have overseen the development of several strategic plans aimed at providing overarching guidance to organizations, and then align that mission to the responsibilities of individual employees. But with the publication of the National Defense Strategy, Defense Secretary Mattis made that easy! DTSA’s mission is in complete alignment with the National Defense Strategy.

DTSA has a very unique and important mission, protecting the U.S. warfighters’ military edge, while sharing technology with allies and partners. One of the fundamental pillars of the National Defense Strategy is to harness innovative technologies from our industries in order to build and maintain a more lethal, resilient and rapidly innovative force.

As the United States rebuilds and maintains superior warfighting capabilities, we must also protect these technologies from our adversaries so they are not used against us or our allies.

To protect the technological superiority of our warfighter, DTSA will continue to work with DoD components and industry in identifying critical technologies that are key to future warfighting capabilities. DTSA also works with international partners, in coordination with the Departments of State and Commerce and others, to control and prevent the transfer of these technologies to adversaries such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

DTSA’s efforts are directly related to another distinct line of effort in the National Defense Strategy – specifically strengthening alliances and attracting new partners.

Through my Chairmanship of the National Disclosure Policy Committee, DTSA strengthens the partnership capacity of international allies and friends through the sharing of classified military information and transfer of advanced technology. We also assist partner countries in establishing processes, practices and organizations that appropriately protect critical U.S. defense technologies and classified information.

As the leader of export controls and key arms transfer and technology release processes, DTSA’s mission will continue to be as applicable as ever – as we are rigorous, thorough and efficient in providing capabilities to our partners for our common defense, while protecting critical technology and the warfighters’ edge.

The future of Girls in STEM


DTSA was honored to welcome science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) focused Girl Scout troops 2210 and 5064 into the Mark Center to showcase their excellent program and robotics work. These intelligent and articulate young ladies are truly on the right path for becoming the next generation of women in STEM. Interactions between these future engineers and DTSA's current cadre of engineers was truly inspiring. Troop leader Jennifer Gerstman described the benefits of exposing girls to STEM during their formative years and highlighted senior scouts as they look forward to pursuing biomedical engineering, computer science, and other STEM focused fields of study in college.

The scouts ranged from 3rd graders to high school seniors. Projects included research on how to update the Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics to account for modern day issues and incorporating biomedical engineering in brain cancer research. The breadth and complexity of issues, these talented ladies take on is phenomenal and requires research, critical thinking skills, and innovation. They take each challenge in stride resulting in outstanding projects.

Rizwan Ramakdawala, senior aerospace engineer, DTSA, volunteers his expertise and serves as a mentor for the scouts. He was recognized with the Spirit of Service award last year by the former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work for his volunteerism and dedication in promoting girls in STEM. We are very proud of all that he continues to do in building future Women engineers.

We want to extend a special thanks to Abby, Ella, Sophie, Charlene, Zahra, Amarachi, and Zainab for your visit and extraordinary robotics displays.

Singapore Air Show

Image of Singapore Air Show

Early this month I had the honor of attending the Singapore Air Show along with several other Senior U.S. delegates including Under Secretary for Commerce Mira Ricardel, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein, PACAF Commander Gen Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Ambassador Tina Kaidenow from the State Department and LTG Charles Hooper, Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Our hosts from the Singapore Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) and other Singapore Government agencies put on a spectacular air show with over 350 exhibitors from 38 countries, several aerial displays and over forty static displays including the F-35 and F-22 aircraft.

I was very pleased to engage a number of U.S. companies and associations including Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon, Boeing and AIA during my visit to the Changi Exhibition Center. Understanding their business perspective in this important region of the world is vital to balancing critical technology cooperation that builds the capacity of allies and friends around the globe with the protection of critical technology vital to our warfighters.

The visit also gave me an opportunity to meet with my MINDEF counter-parts and Singapore industry officials, especially from ST Engineering Aerospace. Our hosts provided exceptional logistic support and numerous opportunities for engagement. Their hospitality was exceptional. These interactions allowed me to discuss DTSA priorities, especially the necessity of having established institutions, policies and procedures in place to protect technology and information.

The success of this trip couldn’t have been possible without the tremendous support from U.S. Embassy Singapore, especially the Defense Attaché Office. Charge d’Affaire Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath and the Embassy team were wonderful in showing me and my staff the beauty and cultural excitement of Singapore. I believe I can speak for the entire U.S. delegation in saying a hearty “Job Well Done!!”.

DTSA’s 2017 Year in Review


2017 was another very busy, productive year for DTSA. Our cooperative efforts with valued partners and allies around the world has contributed directly to Secretary of Defense Mattis’ goal of expanding alliances and partnerships.

On the international front, we hosted bilateral working groups and consultations with Australia, Finland, France, Republic of Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine. Under the auspices of the National Disclosure Policy Committee, we conducted reciprocal security surveys with Latvia, Estonia, and Kazakhstan, and sent survey teams to France, Kenya, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Space monitors from our Technology Directorate participated in technical meetings and launch campaigns in French Guiana, Hong Kong, India, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Kazakhstan.

On the multilateral front, DTSA represented the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Plenary and working-level technical experts meetings of the principal multilateral export control and nonproliferation regimes -- Missile Technology Control Regime, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group. We added the Australia Group to our portfolio in 2017, recognizing that being the lead for all four regimes in DoD made imminent sense. In addition to updating the multilateral control lists and sharing best practices on licensing and enforcement, we also worked closely with the Government of India in supporting and advocating for their membership in these non-proliferation regimes.

Our close cooperation across the Department of Defense – the Military Services, Joint Staff, OSD organizations (AT&L, USDI, DSCA and numerous parts of OSD Policy) – has ensured the protection of critical technology for our warfighters, while building the capacity of allies and friends around the globe. Accordingly, we worked closely with several new and emerging international partners as they establish institutions, policies and procedures to protect technology, sharing our best practices for analyzing the national security implications of exporting internationally. So our resolution for 2018 is clear -- continue working with our partners on #DefenseTech, #InfoSec, and #Exports.

Dual-Use Technology – Making the Global Rounds


Globalization seems to be all the rage.  Access to more markets, more technology, and cheaper labor is driving worldwide commerce.  While such changes can be good or bad for market forces and players, those in the export control arena must pause and ask what are the implications to national security from increased global trade and information sharing?

Defense industries find themselves looking for new customers as they face decreases in national defense budgets and reduced investments in industries supporting defense establishments.  Companies have fewer defense customers with well-defined requirements and deep pockets.  As a result, companies produce more homogeneous products to support numerous industries and diverse customers.  Commercial-off-the-shelf products result in lower end-item costs and bolsters the future supply chain.

This highlights the need to monitor and “appreciate” the value of dual use technology, especially as the building blocks of many advanced military articles.  For example, commercial aircraft and advanced fighter aircraft both require state-of-the-art flight controls; small, but powerful semiconductors help self-driving vehicles make thousands of decisions, however, the same chip can enable faster and more accurate “kill chain” decisions.

At DTSA, we work with our interagency and international partners in applying appropriate export controls to sensitive dual use technologies to ensure these technologies do not go to undesired parties or are used in ways detrimental to our national security or our way of life.

DoD’s review of dual use export license applications, as well as the development of controls for dual use technologies is one of DTSA’s core #defensetech missions.   We must be interoperable with our allies and partners, while “Maintaining the Edge” for our warfighters.


The anticipated notice came in and I couldn't hide my confusion with the words: military assistant, OSD(P) /Def Tech Security Administration(DTSA). DTSA, never heard of it.

So I did what anyone faced with the unknown would do, I googled it. I was routed to the DTSA public website where I read the mission, vision, organizational chart and read the blogs. Based on that exercise, it seemed there was a lot of work done in something called export control reform, technology release, and multilateral non-proliferation regimes. These were words I understood in theory, but in application I was in the dark. The slides I reviewed and the content I read only told part of the story and it didn't answer the question "what was I getting into and how would I fit in?"

I have been at DTSA almost 3 months and while I have learned about export control reform, technology release and the four non-proliferation regimes, there is so much more to what DTSA does. This organization is filled with licensing officers, scientists and engineers, security professionals, foreign affairs specialists, lawyers, personalists, management support, and (now with my addition), a single AF cyber operations officer who all play a vital role in protecting the warfighter's technological edge. As I uncover more about the DTSA mission, I find myself linking the DTSA mission to news articles, op-ed pieces, magazine stories, and other blogs and I feel a certain pride knowing "we" played role in "that".

Stay tuned as I share more experiences and insight on what team DTSA does. First up the Management Directorate, take a peek with me behind the green curtain.

The Republic of Korea and the United States – Partners in Technology Security


In late June, I attended the Fourth International Defense Technology Security Conference in Seoul, Korea, hosted by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). The theme of the conference, “Strategies for Global Security through Technology Protection and Export Control,” aligns perfectly with DTSA’s mission. In my keynote address, I offered some perspectives on long-term global security trends and the need to partner with other countries, especially government-to-government partnerships.

One of the clearest examples of such a partnership is the one between the United States and the Republic of Korea. For more than a decade, we have worked together on technology security, primarily through the Defense Technology Security Consultative Mechanism, and through our recently formed Defense Technology Strategy and Cooperation Group.

This conference and a subsequent formal bilateral meeting with my Korean counterpart, Vice Minister Moon Sung Wook from DAPA, provided us the opportunity to discuss important issues that face us both, and discuss best practices as we enhance our respective export control and technology security postures. Such efforts will continue after the formal dialogue through practitioner engagement between DTSA and DAPA’s Defense Technology Control Bureau personnel.

Complimenting their experience in implementing their domestic Defense Technology Security Act, the Republic of Korea has become a leader in the international arena as well. The United States is extremely thankful to the Republic of Korea for assuming recent Plenary chairmanships for both the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime, two of the key multilateral non-proliferation groups.

Addressing technology security long-term trends through effective partnerships is vital to safety and security. Thanks to our colleagues in Seoul who clearly agree that #defensetech is a shared global responsibility.

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Blog Authors


Michael Laychak
Director, DTSA

Director Biography


Jesse Crump
Former Director, TSFDO


Tom Devendorf
Former Director, Technology Directorate


Jud Rose
Former Director, Policy Directorate


Candace Lyons
Management Specialist


Heidi H. Grant
Former Director, DTSA


Lou Ann McFadden
Former Director, Management Directorate


Ken Oukrop
Former Director, Licensing Directorate


Beth M. McCormick
Former Director, DTSA


Colonel Lisa Martinez
Former Senior Military Assistant


Colonel Mike Zuhlsdorf
Former Senior Military Assistant