DIU gets new military deputy

The Defense Innovation Unit filled another key position.
Steven Butow greets U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III at the DIU offices in Mountain View, California. (Photo courtesy of DIU)

The Defense Innovation Unit has filled another key leadership position, tapping a senior military officer to oversee the service members who work there.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven “Bucky” Butow has been appointed military deputy for DIU, effective June 1, the organization announced Monday.

The unit, which is headquartered in Silicon Valley and has outposts in other major tech hubs around the United States, aims to connect the Pentagon with non-traditional vendors and accelerate the department’s adoption of commercial technologies with military applications. Its major focus areas include AI, autonomy, cyber and telecom, emerging tech, energy, human systems and space. It’s also supporting the department’s Replicator initiative.

In his new role, Butow “will lead more than 75 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Guardians representing active and reserve components of the U.S. armed forces. Collectively, these service members, along with their civilian counterparts, execute DIU’s strategic vision as a national mission force for innovation supporting the combatant commands, the joint force, allies and global partners,” according to a release.


Butow is only the second general officer or flag officer to hold this position. Rear Adm. Daniel “Brian” Hendrickson, now retired, had the job during DIU’s early years. After Hendrickson’s departure, the unit had the authorization but no funded billet for the military deputy role. Now it does, according to officials.

Butow isn’t a newcomer to DIU. He first joined the organization in 2015, the year it was established by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. He served as the unit’s West Coast military lead and also helped set up the organization’s operating locations in Mountain View, California, Boston and Austin, Texas. Additionally, he served as the inaugural space portfolio director, according to the announcement.

While serving in his new role as military deputy, Butow will retain his position as commander of the California Air National Guard.

His appointment is the latest in a series of recent changes to DIU leadership.

About a year ago, Doug Beck was sworn in as the unit’s new director. Last fall, the organization announced that Aditi Kuma would serve as the new deputy director for strategy, policy and national security partnerships, and Kirstin Riesbeck as the new deputy director for people, finance and management. In April, it announced that Liz Young McNally had been tapped to serve as the new deputy director for commercial operations.


The unit has been adding personnel as part of Beck’s strategic vision dubbed “DIU 3.0,” which is focused on better scaling the adoption of commercial tech across the military. Beck reports directly to the secretary of defense.

“As a member of the reserve component, Major General Bucky Butow possesses the dual fluency as both an experienced military leader and technologist with significant experience working with the commercial technology sector,” Beck said in a statement. “Bucky’s experience helping lead the Department’s leveraging of commercial space technology and experience in integrating and fielding new and emergent commercial technology will help to create asymmetric advantage for the joint force and allied warfighters.”

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) @Jon_Harper_

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