WASHINGTON — Heidi Grant, a longtime Air Force official, will be the next head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency — marking the first time a civilian has run the office since it was created in 1998.

She will succeed Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, who is retiring. Hooper took over as DSCA head in Aug. 2017. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that the agency head is now a civilian-led position, after traditionally being a three-star job.

DSCA is the Pentagon’s lead agency on foreign weapon sales, helping to encourage partners and allies to buy American while coordinating with the State Department to clear weapon sales through what can sometimes be a laborious process.

Grant is a well-known figure on the international circuit, having served from 2010-2018 as the Air Force’s deputy undersecretary of international affairs. In that role she was a fixture at industry trade shows and became known as the point person in pushing USAF equipment to the international community.

In December 2018, she transitioned to become director of the Defense Technology Security Administration. At DTSA, she has been charged with ensuring that the Pentagon is properly protecting sensitive U.S. military weaponry and that defense sales do not erode the services’ technological advantage.

Hooper was commissioned in 1979 as an infantryman and went on to serve in a variety of political-military roles, including U.S. defense attaché to China, as well as a senior country director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia policy at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Other assignments include directing the J5 for U.S. Africa Command.

His time leading DSCA coincided with an emphasis from the Trump administration to increase arms sales abroad as a way to boost the American economy. During Hooper’s tenure, DSCA cleared 198 potential Foreign Military Sales cases, with an estimated $214 billion price tag; while those figures do not necessarily translate into hard sales, they gave a sense of interest from nations abroad in American goods.

Hooper also worked changes inside DSCA, reducing extra charges to foreign customers in an attempt to goose sales and setting up the Defense Security Cooperation University to help train officials in security cooperation efforts.

Valerie Insinna in Washington contributed to this report.

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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