Leadership

Hon. Mark T. Esper

Hon. Mark T. Esper

Distinguished Chair

Dr. Mark T. Esper served as United States secretary of defense from July 2019 to November 2020. From November 2017 to June 2019, he served as secretary of the Army. He is currently the Distinguished Chair of the Modern War Institute at West Point.

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Patrick Sullivan

Patrick Sullivan

Director

Col. Patrick J. Sullivan is a career engineer officer who has commanded at every level from company through brigade, with service in the 10th Mountain Division, 3rd Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne Division, and 20th Engineer Brigade (XVIII Airborne Corps).

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Thomas Church

Thomas Church

Deputy Director

Lt. Col. Thomas R. Church is the deputy director of the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is also the course director for DS475 Strategic Decision Making and an instructor for DS350 Persuasive Communications.

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Max Margulies

Max Margulies

Director of Research

Dr. Max Margulies is the Director of Research and an Assistant Professor at the Modern War Institute at West Point. He also serves as the course director for the thesis and capstone programs in West Point’s Defense and Strategic Studies program. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Political Science from Columbia University, and a BA in Political Science (Honors) from McGill University.

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Full-Time Staff

John Amble

John Amble

Editorial Director

John Amble is the editorial director of the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is a military intelligence officer in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. He writes on terrorism, intelligence, the military, and the Middle East.

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Grant Barge

Grant Barge

Plans Officer

Maj. Grant Barge enlisted in the army in 2003 after being a two-sport athlete and graduating from Palm Beach Atlantic University. He served as a rifleman in the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and deployed to Iraq before a training accident forced his medical separation in 2005.

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Rodrigo Andres Coronel

Rodrigo Andres Coronel

Foreign Liaison Officer

Capt. Rodrigo Andres Coronel graduated from Liceo Militar “General San Martin” in 2008 as an infantry reserve second lieutenant with a diploma oriented to the social sciences. In 2009, he enrolled in the Colegio Militar de la Nacioñ and graduated as a second lieutenant in 2012. Commissioned as a cavalry officer, he attended the Escuela de Caballería the next year.

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Charles Faint

Charles Faint

Staff Assistant

Lt. Col. Charles Faint currently serves as staff assistant of the Modern War Institute at West Point and as an Assistant Professor, teaching Comparative Defense Policy. A military intelligence officer, he holds five undergraduate and graduate degrees, the most recent of which is from Yale University. Published in a number of blogs and professional journals, Lt. Col. Faint is also the coauthor of Violence of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War on Terror.

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Timothy Heck

Timothy Heck

Deputy Editorial Director

Timothy Heck is the deputy editorial director of the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is an artillery officer in the US Marine Corps Reserve and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. He writes on military history, amphibious operations, operational art, and the Cold War. He teaches courses in the Defense & Strategic Studies program.

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Patrick Howell

Patrick Howell

Assistant to the Director

Col. Patrick Howell is the assistant to the director of the Modern War Institute at West Point. A career Engineer and Strategic/Operational Planner, he has deployed in support of combat operations to Afghanistan, Iraq, and East Africa.

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Jarrid Johnson

Jarrid Johnson

Senior Enlisted Advisor

Sergeant First Class Jarrid Johnson is the senior enlisted advisor for the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is an instructor for MS200 Fundamentals of Small Unit Operations. SFC Johnson is also the non-commissioned officer-in-charge and dive supervisor for the USMA Maritime Assessment Course for cadets attending Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course (CDQC).

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John Spencer

John Spencer

Chair of Urban Warfare Studies, Codirector of the Urban Warfare Project

John W. Spencer is the chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute, codirector of the Urban Warfare Project, and host of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast. A leading expert on military operations in dense urban areas, megacities, and urban and subterranean warfare, he also serves as a colonel in the California State Guard with assignment to the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard as the director of urban warfare training.

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Project Directors

Kyle Atwell

Kyle Atwell

Codirector of the Irregular Warfare Initiative

Kyle Atwell is an active duty US Army officer, an instructor in the Social Sciences Department at West Point, and a PhD candidate in security studies at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. His operational experience includes assignments in North and West Africa, Afghanistan, South Korea, and Germany.

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Elizabeth Buchanan

Elizabeth Buchanan

Codirector of Project 6633

Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan is an Australian polar geopolitics expert and codirector of MWI’s Project 6633. Her research interests include Arctic and Antarctic geopolitics, energy security, Russian grand strategy, and strategic studies more broadly. Dr. Buchanan is Head of Research for the Royal Australian Navy. She was formerly a lecturer of strategic studies for the Defence and Strategic Studies Course at the Australian War College.

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Ryan Burke

Ryan Burke

Codirector of Project 6633

Dr. Ryan Burke is an associate professor and curriculum director in the Department of Military & Strategic Studies at the US Air Force Academy and codirector of MWI’s Project 6633. Ryan came to USAFA after completing a Department of Defense–funded postdoctoral fellowship in the University of Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden School of Public Policy and Administration, where he also earned his PhD.

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ML Cavanaugh

ML Cavanaugh

Codirector of the Shield Notes, Senior Fellow

Matt Cavanaugh is an active duty US Army strategist with global experience and assignments ranging from the Pentagon to Korea and West Point to the Middle East. He earned his master’s degree at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and his PhD under Professor Emeritus Colin Gray at the University of Reading (UK). His writings have been featured in the New York TimesWashington Post, and Wall Street Journal, among other outlets.

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Jahara Matisek

Jahara Matisek

Codirector of the Shield Notes

Jahara “Franky” Matisek is an active duty officer in the US Air Force, currently serving as an assistant professor in the Department of Military and Strategic Studies at the US Air Force Academy. He is a former C-17 pilot with over 2,000 hours of flight time, to include over 700 hours of combat time, and was a T-6 Instructor Pilot at the prestigious Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot program.

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Shawna Sinnott

Shawna Sinnott

Codirector of the Irregular Warfare Initiative

Shawna Sinnott is an active duty Marine Corps officer who has served in a variety of operational, staff, policy, and leadership roles across I Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Command, and Headquarters Marine Corps. Her operational deployments have taken her across West Asia, the Arabian Gulf, and East Africa. Shawna holds an AB from Harvard College and an MLitt from the University of St Andrews in the study of terrorism and political violence.

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Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith

Codirector of the Competition in Cyberspace Project, Affiliated Faculty

Maggie Smith is a cyber officer assigned to the Army Cyber Institute. She originally enlisted in 2004 to complete her undergraduate education but serving quickly became a passion and turned into a career. She commissioned via ROTC in 2013 after completing her master of public policy (with a focus in homeland security and intelligence policy) at Georgetown University with the US Army’s Green to Gold program.

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Affiliated Faculty

Rose Horswill

Rose Horswill

Affiliated Faculty

Maj. Rose Horswill grew up in Wyoming, Rhode Island, and commissioned from USMA in 2010 as a signal corps officer. Her first assignment was to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, where she was a platoon leader, company executive officer, and the company commander for C/307th Joint/Area Signal Company. She was also the assistant operations officer for the installation network enterprise center.

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Zhanna L. Malekos Smith

Zhanna L. Malekos Smith

Affiliated Faculty

Zhanna L. Malekos Smith, JD, is a senior associate with the Strategic Technologies Program and the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, and an assistant professor in the Department of Systems Engineering at West Point. Prior to joining West Point, Malekos Smith was a professor of cyber warfare studies with the US Air War College. 

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Dan Maurer

Dan Maurer

Affiliated Faculty

Dan Maurer is a judge advocate and former combat engineer officer. He serves currently as an assistant professor in the Department of Law at West Point. He was selected as nonresident fellow for the Modern War Institute from 2018 to 2021.

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Rob Person

Rob Person

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Rob Person is an associate professor of international relations at the United States Military at West Point where he teaches courses in Russian and post-Soviet politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political economy.  Additionally, he serves as director of curriculum for West Point’s International Affairs Program in the Department of Social Sciences.

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Senior Fellows

Max Brooks

Max Brooks

Senior Fellow

Max Brooks is the best-selling author of The Zombie Survival GuideWorld War Z, and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks, among other books. An advocate of challenging old ways of thinking and encourage mental agility and flexibility for problem solvers and leaders, he is frequently sought out to speak to audiences across the defense and national security community.

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Nancy Collins

Nancy Collins

Senior Fellow

Nancy Collins is a senior fellow of the Modern War Institute at West Point. Collins writes about US defense, national security, and military technology. She is the chair of the Columbia Seminar on Defense and Security. Her essays and commentaries have appeared in a range of media outlets, including Forbes, the New York TimesTIMEUS News and World Report, and the Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Grey Wars (Yale University Press, 2021).

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Steve Leonard

Steve Leonard

Senior Fellow

Steve Leonard joined the University of Kansas School of Business as the Director of the graduate program in Business and Organizational Leadership following a twenty-eight-year career in the US Army. He is a former senior military strategist and the creative force behind Doctrine Man!! He is also the co-founder of Divergent Options, a founding member of the Military Writers Guild, and a frequent contributor to the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare Project.

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