May 9, 2022

Strategic Change in Special Operations

Opening Remarks and Conversation

  • The Honorable Christopher P. Maier

    Christopher P. Maier is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. Among his responsibilities are all special operations, irregular warfare, counterterrorism, and information operations policy issues and the oversight of special operations peculiar administrative matters, on behalf of the Secretary.

    He previously led the Department of Defense’s Defeat-ISIS Task Force from its inception until disestablishment, charged with policy and strategy development, international negotiations, oversight, authorities review, and national-level interagency implementation of the Department’s role in the U.S. Government’s campaign to achieve an enduring defeat of ISIS. In this role, he also directed the Secretary of Defense’s leadership of the Defense Ministry components of the 80+ international members of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition.

    From July 2015 to September 2017, Mr. Maier served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism. In this role, Mr. Maier led the Department’s policies, plans, authorities and resources related to special operations and irregular warfare, with special emphasis on counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, unconventional warfare, information operations and sensitive special operations. Before moving to the Department of Defense, Mr. Maier held a number of positions at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), including Senior Advisor to the Director, Chief of Strategic Assessments and Regional Planning, and Chief of Staff in the Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning.

    From 2009 to 2013, Mr. Maier served on the National Security Council Staff as a director for counterterrorism. In addition to his government experience, Mr. Maier worked for over five years as a strategy and management consultant to a variety of commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations.

    Originally from California, Mr. Maier earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is an officer in the Air National Guard.

Discussion Panel 1

Technology and Attribution: Operational Secrecy in Today's Information Environment

  • Mr. Christian Brose

    Christian Brose is the Chief Strategy Officer of Anduril Industries, a venture-backed defense technology company. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare.

    From 2014-2018, he was the staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He led a team of professional staff who supported Chairman John McCain and other majority Committee members in overseeing the national defense budget, programs, and policies across the Departments of Defense and Energy, and supervised the confirmation of all senior civilian and military officials in both Departments. He managed the production, negotiation, and final passage of four National Defense Authorization Acts (Fiscal Years 2016-2019), which established policy and authorized spending for all U.S. national defense activities.

    From 2009-14, he served as senior policy adviser to Senator John McCain, supporting his work on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was Senator McCain’s principal advisor on all issues related to national security, foreign policy, intelligence, and trade. From 2008-09, he was senior editor of Foreign Policy. From 2005-08, he served as policy adviser and chief speechwriter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, working as a member of the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff. He began his career in government as a speechwriter for Secretary of State Colin Powell, from 2004-05. He is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group.

  • Dr. Sean McFate

    Dr. Sean McFate is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington DC think tank, and a professor at: Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Syracuse University's Maxwell School, and the National Defense University. His career began as an officer and paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, and then he became a private military contractor.

    His book The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order (Oxford University Press) examines why private warfare has returned and its implications; Foreign Affairs hailed it as "essential reading.” The New Rules of War: Victory in an Era of Durable Disorder has been translated into ten languages and was named a “Book of the Year” by The Economist. McFate has written three novels based on his private military experiences. His latest thriller is High Treason, and #1 New York Times bestselling author James Patterson said: “Sean McFate just might be the next Tom Clancy, only I think he’s even better.” McFate has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, War on the Rocks, and similar outlets. He has appeared on CNN’s Amanpour, Morning Joe, Fox and Friends, NPR, BBC, Vice/HBO, and The Discovery Channel.

    McFate holds a BA from Brown University, MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). More: www.seanmcfate.com

Discussion Panel 2

Private Military Contractors: Encountering Privatization in Irregular Warfare

  • Mr. Tom Rakusan

    Tom Rakusan recently retired from the CIA after 39 years with the Central Intelligence Agency and other elements of the U.S. national security community. Mr. Rakusan’s focus has been on Eastern and Western Europe, the former Soviet states, and across the Middle East. He has served in a multitude of locations in these regions, as well as in Washington, working these issues in the intelligence community and within the various national security settings over several Administrations.

    Mr. Rakusan has also led several large organizations, most recently in the position of Deputy Director of CIA for Operations, and Assistant Director of CIA for Europe and Eurasia. Prior to that, he served as the Chief of CIA’s Near East Program, and as Associate Deputy Director of CIA, among others. In these and other senior CIA leadership positions, Mr. Rakusan led innovation and created multi-disciplinary teams to tackle the Nation’s most pressing national security challenges. He has been a member of the Senior Intelligence Service for 16 years, and served as the Chief of CIA Stations on multiple occasions in Eastern Europe, former Soviet republics, and in the Middle East.

    Mr. Rakusan is currently employed with a U.S. private equity firm, focusing on investments in companies developing tools needed by the U.S. national security community.

  • Dr. Sean McFate

    Dr. Sean McFate will participate in this panel in addition to the panel on Technology and Attribution.

  • Mr. Jack Margolin

    Jack Margolin is a Program Director at C4ADS, where he oversees analysis on war economies, arms trafficking, terror finance, private military companies, and mass atrocity. Jack's investigations and analysis have been cited by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vice, Buzzfeed, Foreign Policy, and Reuters. He has previously investigated illicit nuclear procurement in South Asia, Syria’s chemical weapons supply chains, illicit finance in Eastern Europe, and arms trafficking in East Africa. Prior to joining C4ADS, Jack was a Fulbright in Ukraine, where he contributed to the Kyiv Post, the Odessa Review, and RuNet Echo. Jack earned a bachelor’s degree in international security and a minor in Russian language from Tufts University.

  • Ms. Sarah Daly

    Sarah Daly is a graduate student in African Studies at Yale. She is also an adjunct researcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses, where she assesses African geopolitical and security developments in support of U.S. government agencies. Her research portfolio includes violent extremism, foreign influence, intrastate conflict, resource exploitation and extractive industry, democracy and governance, and emerging technology. She previously completed a Fulbright fellowship in Argentina, and has worked as a legal analyst in New York and for a non-profit organization in Kenya. Sarah holds a B.A. in History and English from Amherst College.

Discussion Panel 3

Strategic Change in Special Operations

  • The Honorable Christopher P. Maier

    Christopher P. Maier will participate in this panel in addition to making the opening remarks of the conference.

  • RADM Frank Mitchell Bradley

    Rear Admiral Frank M. Bradley is a SEAL Naval Officer who assumed command of U.S. Special Operations Command Central, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida in July of 2020 following assignment as assistant commander, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Fort Bragg, North Carolina from 2018 – 2020.

    Bradley is from Eldorado, Texas and is a 1991 graduate of the United States Naval Academy where he studied physics and was a varsity gymnast. He began his career as a SEAL after completing Basic Underwater Demolition school (BUDs/SEAL) Class 179 in 1992.

    He has commanded at all levels of special operations, including the commander of Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He has multiple tours in command of joint task forces, and was among the first to deploy into Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11, 2001, and has deployed consistently since. Additionally, he has served with SEAL Team FOUR, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team TWO and the Italian Incursori (Italian SEALs) as an international exchange officer.

    Bradley earned a Masters in Physics from Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA where he received a provisional patent for his research in 2006.

    His staff duty has included service as JSOC’s J-3 Technical Operations Division Chief and the Deputy J-3, the Vice Deputy Director for Global Operations for the Joint Staff J-3, the Executive Officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. and the Deputy Director for CT Strategy for the Joint Staff J-5.

  • LTG (R) Kenneth E. Tovo

    Ken Tovo is a recognized leader in special operations, strategic planning, and leadership. He is the President of DOL Enterprises, Inc, a consulting firm providing services primarily in the defense and technology sectors.

    Over the course of his 35-year career, much of it as a Green Beret, Ken developed and led high performing organizations at varying levels, from a 12-man Special Forces ‘A-team’ to the 34,000-strong Army Special Operations Command.

    His operational assignments include the first Gulf War; refugee relief operations in Turkey and Northern Iraq; noncombatant evacuation operations in Sierra Leone; peacekeeping operations in Bosnia on two occasions; five tours in Iraq; and one tour in Afghanistan.

    He has significant experience in developing organizational culture; managing change and incorporating new ideas and technology; and strategic planning and resourcing.

    In addition to his consulting work, Ken currently serves on the board of several companies, is the chairman of a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting US Army Green Berets and their families, and is an advisory board member of a nonprofit that supports the educational needs of killed, wounded, or seriously injured servicemembers.

    Ken was a distinguished graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point and earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering. He holds a MS in Advanced Military Studies from the US Army Command & General Staff College and a MS in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College; he received the Bristol Military History Writing Award for his War College thesis.

Closing Remarks and Conversation