Vayl S. Oxford, a member of the senior executive service (SES), is the Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) located on Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The DTRA mission is to safeguard the U.S. and its allies from weapons of mass destruction (WMD), specifically chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive threats, and improvised threats by providing the means to prevent and counter the proliferation of WMD and improvised threats and to reduce, eliminate, and mitigate their effects. This includes helping ensure the U.S. maintains a safe, secure, effective and credible nuclear weapons deterrent. As the DoD Combat Support Agency for the Counter WMD and improvised threats mission, DTRA develops and provides operational support for associated capabilities to warfighters worldwide.
Mr. Oxford is no stranger to DTRA, having served in several different positons with DTRA and its legacy organizations, first as a U.S. Air Force officer and then as a DoD civilian. Before being named DTRA Director, he was the National Security Executive Policy Advisor at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) where he was responsible for guiding the strategic direction and vision for national security issues. Before joining PNNL, Mr. Oxford spent a short time in private industry after 35 years of public service that combined time in the military and as a government civilian employee, almost all of it focused on countering weapons of mass destruction.
He served in multiple positions in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from 2003 to 2009, as the Policy Advisor to the Under Secretary of Science & Technology, as Acting Director of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, and as the first Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), which was created to be the single entity in the U.S. government to protect the nation against nuclear terrorism. Appointed by President George W. Bush and reporting to the DHS Secretary, he led the development of the National Strategy to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
Prior to his appointment to DHS, Mr. Oxford served as the Director for Counterproliferation at the National Security Council, where he supported the development of the President’s National Strategy to Combat WMD, the policy and strategy for WMD interdiction, and represented the NSC in the development of the National Biodefense Strategy. He chaired the interagency working group for Operation Iraqi Freedom to develop policies for combating WMD in Iraq, to include developing the initial concept for WMD exploitation and elimination, and the plan for foreign consequence management to protect civilian populations from potential Iraqi use of WMD.
From 1987 to 2002, he held several positions with DTRA and its legacy organizations (Defense Special Weapons Agency and Defense Nuclear Agency). Highlights include directing a 300 member staff and a $400M RDT&E program to defeat WMD targets. He also initiated a joint program with SOCOM to develop specialized capabilities to exploit and defeat WMD threats. As Director for Counterproliferation, he led DoD’s counterforce efforts to identify, characterize and defeat WMD facilities, including oversight of two Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations.
Mr. Oxford received his Bachelor of Science in General Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and his Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Mr. Oxford has numerous military and civilian awards, including the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award and the Distinguished Public Service Award for his contributions to Homeland Security.