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News | April 12, 2022

Ms. Rebecca Hersman is welcomed as the new Director of the DTRA

By DTRA Public Affairs Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Rebecca Hersman, a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), has been named Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), headquartered on Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.

Ms. Hersman is coming to DTRA from her position as director of the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) and senior adviser with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). She is a leading expert on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons policy; global health security; and crisis management, leading the preeminent national program designed to develop next generation nuclear expertise.

DTRA’s Acting Director Dr. Rhys Williams said, “I can say, without hesitation, that she is the right person at the right time to become the Agency's Director.  I am certain you will find her leadership, intellect and passion for the mission to be a superb match for the Agency.”

 “I am thrilled to join the Agency at such an important time,” said Ms. Hersman, after being sworn in during a ceremony at the Pentagon. “I am especially grateful to Dr. Williams for the able leadership he provided during the last 15 months.”

Prior to joining CSIS in 2015 from the Department of Defense (DOD), Ms. Hersman served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction. In this capacity, she led DoD policy and strategy to prevent WMD proliferation and use, reduce and eliminate WMD risks, and respond to WMD dangers. She was a key leader on issues ranging from the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, nuclear response and mitigation during the Fukushima crisis, and WMD interdiction policy and response. Additionally, Ms. Hersman led DoD engagements on WMD issues with NATO, South Korea, Japan, and others, and also served as DoD’s principal policy advocate on WMD arms control, nonproliferation, and threat reduction.

Previously, Ms. Hersman was a senior research fellow with the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University from 1998 to 2009. Ms. Hersman has also held positions as an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee professional staff. Ms. Hersman holds an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Duke University.

After turning over the leadership reigns, Dr. Williams said, “It has been my honor to have served as Acting Agency Director for the past 15 months - through the change of Administration, COVID max telework, Afghanistan withdrawal and now the Russian invasion of Ukraine - and so many other issues and actions. The DTRA staff is one of the best I've had the pleasure of serving with during my time in government and the military.”

“As I take the helm from Dr. Williams, who has guided DTRA with a steady hand and clear vision,” added Hersman. “I look forward to meeting the challenges and opportunities that lie before us at DTRA by leveraging and empowering the rich talent and expertise across this agency.”


DTRA provides cross-cutting solutions to enable the Department of Defense, the United States Government, and international partners to deter strategic attack against the United States and its allies; prevent, reduce, and counter WMD and emerging threats; and prevail against WMD-armed adversaries in crisis and conflict.  

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