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LtGen Lawrence Nicholson USMC (Ret)

Lieutenant General (ret.) Lawrence Nicholson served as the Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force, leading 30,000 Marines and Sailors in the Asia-Pacific region, from 2015 to 2018.

Graduating from The Citadel in 1979, Lieutenant General Nicholson served as an infantry officer in the First Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California, where he commanded and deployed to the Western Pacific, leading multiple platoons and rifle companies. From 1990 to 1993, Nicholson was assigned to the staff of US Naval Academy. Following a year at the US Army Command and General Staff College, where he earned a Master’s Degree, he was assigned to the Middle East as a United Nations Observer for UNTSO Palestine. In 1995, he reported to Camp Lejeune, NC, as the Executive Officer of the Wolfpack of 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and in 1998, assumed command of the Warlords of 2nd BN 2nd MAR where they deployed as part of 26th MEU to the Balkans.

Upon graduation from the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy in 2002, he was assigned to NATO HQ in Brussels, Belgium, where he served as the Ground Forces Planner for the US Military Delegation to NATO. In July 2004, he reported to the 1st Marine Division HQ at Camp Blue Diamond, Ramadi, Iraq, where he served as the Division G-3. In July of 2005, he assumed command of the 5th Marine Regiment and deployed with them to Fallujah, Iraq from January 2006 to February 2007. From January 2009 through June 2010, he served as the Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Task Force Leatherneck, deploying with them for a year to southern Afghanistan.

Upon return from this combat tour, he was assigned as the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C., from July 2010 to February 2012. In February of 2012, Nicholson returned to Afghanistan for a year serving as the Operations Officer for the ISAF Joint Command in Kabul, Afghanistan. General Nicholson then assumed the duties as Commanding General, 1st Marine Division in 2013. He is currently the Chairman of the Board for Still Serving, Inc. and a member of numerous advisory boards for nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Carter Malkasian

U.S. Department of Defense
Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Dr. Carter Malkasian is the special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. He has extensive experience working in conflict zones and has published several books.

The highlight of his work in conflict zones was nearly two years in Garmser district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, as a State Department political officer. Before that, Dr. Malkasian deployed as a civilian advisor with the Marines twice to Iraq, for a total of 18 months, mostly in Al Anbar in 2004 and 2006. Other field assignments have been to Honduras, Kuwait (OIF-1), Kunar (2007–2008), and Kabul as the political advisor to General Dunford (2013–2014).

From May 2012 to May 2013, Dr. Malkasian directed the office of overseas operations within the US State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. From October 2006 to July 2009, he directed the Stability and Development Program at CNA, the think tank for the US Navy and Marine Corps.

His 2013 book, War Comes to Garmser (Oxford University Press) won the silver medal for the Council on Foreign Relations’ Arthur Ross Book Award. Other publications include A History of Modern Wars of Attrition (2002), The Korean War, 1950-1953 (2001), and “War Downsized: How to Accomplish More with Less” in Foreign Affairs (2012).

His newest book is Illusions of Victory: The Anbar Awakening and the Islamic State (Oxford University Press, 2017), about the successes and eventual failure of the famous Anbar awakening tribal movement and the corresponding US military effort.

Dr. Malkasian completed his doctorate in history at Oxford University. He speaks Pashto.

Col Randy Newman, USMC (Ret)

Randy Newman left active duty during September 2013. He served in the Marine Corps for 28 years as an enlisted Marine and as a Commissioned Officer.

He served as the Commander of Regimental Combat Team 7 in Afghanistan during 2009 – 2010. RCT-7 was based in Southern Helmand Province and executed operations throughout the province to clear insurgent strongholds and return cleared areas to Afghan Government control.

Upon retiring from the Marine Corps, he returned to his home state of Indiana with his wife Hillary and son Vincent where he helps manage his family’s farm.

SgtMaj Ernest K. Hoopii, USMC (Ret)

Sergeant Major Ernest K Hoopii is a native of Maui Hawaii and joined the Marine Corps in January 1984 and completed recruit training at MCRD, San Diego, CA.

In February 2009, Sergeant Major Hoopii reported for duty with the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade as the Brigade’s Sergeant Major and deployed to Afghanistan as Task Force Leatherneck.

Sergeant Major Hoopii’s personal awards include the Legion of Merit (2d award), Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device (2d award), Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal (4th award), Combat Action Ribbon (2d award), and the Good Conduct Medal (10th award).

Sergeant Major Hoopii retired on 31 July 2014 after 30.5 years of service. Ernest Hoopii is employed by KATMAI Corp services and is the site lead at the Infantry Immersion Trainer at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a veteran journalist and author, is head of policy and strategy at the Emes Project LLC, a Seattle-based organization that aspires to bring an entrepreneurial lens to political and policy reform.

Rajiv was a senior correspondent and associate editor of The Washington Post, where he worked for two decades. During his newspaper career, he reported from more than three dozen countries and was bureau chief in Baghdad, Cairo and Southeast Asia. He also served as the Post’s national editor and as an assistant managing editor. 

In 2014, he and Howard Schultz wrote the bestselling book “For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism and Sacrifice.” He joined Starbucks in 2015 as senior vice president for public affairs and executive producer of the company’s social impact media initiatives. 

He also is the author of two other bestselling books: “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan” and “Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone,” which was named one of the 10 best books of 2007 by The New York Times and inspired the movie Green Zone. 

He has twice served as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and as a journalist in residence at the International Reporting Project at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.

He is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and a graduate of Stanford University. 

Col Curtis T. Lee, USMCR (Ret)

Colonel Curtis Lee, a graduate of the Naval Academy, resides in Hartsville, SC with his wife Barbara and their three children; Matthew (22), Sarah (19) and Caroline (17). He is the former commander of the newly formed 3D Civil Affairs Group, established at Great Lakes, IL in 2013. Prior to being selected for command, he served with the U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command where he provided civil affairs and stability operations expertise while supporting pre-deployment exercises and the village stability operations (VSO) program. He returned from a year-long deployment to southern Afghanistan in 2010 where he served as the deputy G9 for civil military operations for 2D Marine Expeditionary Brigade. Prior to that deployment he served as a detachment commander and future operations officer for 4th Civil Affairs Group. He also served on the Marine staff responsible for governance, economic development and reconstruction in Al Anbar Province, Iraq in 2007 and participated in Operation Provide Comfort in Northern Iraq in 1991. Colonel Lee’s experience with peacemaking operations in Northern Iraq after Desert Storm, his witnessing of the tribal sheikh uprising against Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007, and involvement in the “surge” into southern Afghanistan have given him a deep appreciation and understanding of civil affairs in counterinsurgency and stability operations.

Colonel Lee’s reserve military experience also includes a tour with the MAGTF Staff Training Program as both a Marine Corps Planning Process instructor and combat service support planner, serving as the senior watch officer for the Combined Logistics Operations Center for three Ulchi Focus Lens exercises in Korea, and serving as the Maintenance Control Officer for 4th Maintenance Battalion in Charlotte, NC.

Prior to joining the reserves, he served for seven and a half years on active duty as an artillery officer to include serving as the commanding officer for Headquarters Company, U. S. Marine Corps Forces Atlantic, and various billets in 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines. During this time, he participated in two MEU (SOC) deployments, Teamwork ’88 and various field exercises.

Colonel Lee has over 25 years of corporate experience in various functions to include manufacturing, Six Sigma (process improvement), supply chain, sales & marketing, business development, pricing, and information technology with Rubbermaid, General Electric, and Sonoco Products Company. He is currently an independent consultant and in the process of opening an upscale paddle club/event venue on Black Creek just outside of Hartsville, SC. Colonel Lee is also a co-owner of the Mantissa Executive Suites and Spa – a new luxury boutique hotel in downtown Hartsville.

Colonel Lee is actively involved in his local community serving as an executive board member of the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Hartsville Planning Commission and member of the local Rotary Club. He serves on the board of Team Afghan Power and is supporting Undying Hope International of South Sudan. He is also active in mission work for his church, establishing a partnership with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Kenya.

Maj Frank “Gus” Biggio, USMC (Ret)

Frank (“Gus”) Biggio served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from mid-1993 until December 1997 after graduating from Denison University. After leaving active duty, he returned to his native Ohio where he earned a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, then worked in jobs in finance and law in New York City and Washington, DC, picking up a degree from Georgetown University along the way. Nearly ten years after first leaving the service, he rejoined the Marine Corps in October 2007. With his country at war, the same itch that drove him to volunteer in the 1990s drove his desire to serve again. His writing about the military and politics has appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Washington Post, Weekly Standard, and the online journal, War on the Rocks. The Wolves of Helmand is his first book. Through his work, he spends his time between Switzerland and Washington, DC, but has always called Ohio home.

Mr J. Kael Weston

Kim T. Adamson Chair of Insurgency and Terrorism

Mr. Kael Weston represented the U.S. government for over a decade as a State Department official. Across seven consecutive years in Iraq and Afghanistan (2003-2010), he worked closely with frontline U.S. military units, local Iraqi and Afghan leaders, and coalition partners in Fallujah, Baghdad/Sadr City, and Khost and Helmand provinces. While serving previously at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City, he was the U.S. representative on the UN Security Council’s Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee. Weston is author of the book, The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan (Knopf/Penguin Random House, 2016), a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Military Times’ Best Book of the Year, and recipient of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award. Currently the writer-in-residence in the Honors College at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, he has also written for Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal and has been frequently interviewed on NPR about U.S. foreign policy. Weston is a graduate of the University of Utah (BA), University of Cambridge (MPhil), and did additional PhD coursework at the London School of Economics and was a Fulbright Scholar in the Netherlands.

As the Marine Corps University (MCU) Kim T. Adamson Chair of Insurgency and Terrorism, Mr. Weston lectures across the schools, including the Marine Corps War College – MCWAR, the Command and Staff College – CSC, the School of Advanced Warfighting – SAW, and the Expeditionary Warfare School – EWS.


Dr. Lucas A Dyer, EdD

Dr. Lucas Dyer has spent the majority of his professional career working for the United States government where he enlisted as a United States Marine (USMC) in August of 2000. Upon completion of boot camp, he was ordered to the School of Infantry Training, located in North Carolina where he then went on to serve the next sixteen-years as an Infantry Marine. In September of 2013, he reenlisted into the Marine Corps Reserves and took a full-time job with the Department of Defense as a Terrorism Analyst, specializing in open source and classified research, training design, and real-world execution of realistic training programs. For six years to follow he was the Subject Matter Expert in real-world terrorism activity and training design for both the Marine Corps and Law Enforcement agencies. In 2019 he left the government and officially moved over into Amazon. 

Lucas is well educated with a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree in Organizational Change and Leadership Development from the University of Southern California (USC) where he graduated in May 2021. His dissertation was professionally published which focused on the lack of gender diversity among females working in the higher education sector. Among other publications, Lucas wrote professionally for Jiu-Jitsu magazine as their lead nutritionist with over 12 publications, as well as a best-selling author detailing his events in Afghanistan in 2009 in his first book.

In his free time, Lucas strives for a work-life-balance and dedicates his time to his children, Dalton and Saige, while still finding time to play golf at least once a week.
Fun Facts:
1)    Favorite quote: “nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”
2)    Bragging rights: My son has starred in three motion pictures as a young actor: Beautiful Boy, Season 4 of This is Us, and a pilot show, Juicy.
3)    Favorite movie: RAD, 1980s
4)    Favorite music: Rock: Motley Crew, Rap: Anything 1980s to 1990s especially 2PAC
5)    I fought Mixed Martial Arts for years in California as a licensed MMA fighter