It is with a healthy amount of humility and anticipation that I introduce myself as an international affairs writer here at SOFREP. I have been an avid reader and fan of the site’s writers and features for quite a while and I am eager to become part of the great team assembled here. What follows is a short summary of my academic and professional background.
I grew up in Chicagoland just a stone’s throw south of the city. I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate work at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and was awarded a Master of Arts in Political Science (international relations and foreign comparative politics) from Northern Illinois University in 2006. My postgraduate program consisted of foreign policy and national security policy studies and focused regionally on Eastern Europe and Russia with special concentration in the Balkans and Caucasus. In conducting research analysis, most of my program consisted of international relations theory, international institutions and governmental organizations, international security, international political economy, international law, non-state actors, asymmetric warfare, international and third world economic development, governance, and democratization. I also conducted in-depth research on international security conventions and nuclear non-proliferation regimes. The second portion of my postgraduate work, foreign comparative political studies, focused on post-Cold War Russian Federalism in the wake of the Beslan School Hostage Crisis of 2004.
After completing my graduate program at NIU in 2006, I enlisted in the United States Army as an All-Source Intelligence Analyst (35F). Following initial training, Iwas assigned to 1-32 Infantry Battalion, 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division and deployed to Kunar and Nuristan provinces, Afghanistan in 2009. I had an opportunity to cut my teeth as an analyst in an incredibly important area of operations with an incredibly tough battalion stocked with men with multiple tours and an impressible history of valorous acts. I owe much of my subsequent Army career to the outstanding Non-Commissioned Officers in 1-32 IN.
At the end of the 2009 deployment, I fell on orders to Hawaii and, motivated largely by the insidious pangs of guilt that have accompanied many a soldier’s decision whether or not to leave the military during the last 13 years of war, I opted to re-enlist for an additional two years of service. This decision would prove to be fortuitous for my wish to remain engaged in Afghanistan and would afford me the opportunity to return to Kunar Province for a second tour of duty in 2011.
In 2010, I PCS’d to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and was assigned to the brigade element of an intelligence unit. After being alerted to the BCT across the street was set to deploy back to Kunar Province in April of 2011, I begged the Command Sergeant Major of the brigade to be brought aboard and assigned to the unit set to occupy the same battle space. The CSM, as the best will often due, had pity upon my willingness to give up paradise in the islands of Hawaii for the paradise of the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and I was the proud recipient of the previously mythological 4187. I was assigned to 2-35 Infantry Battalion, 3rd BCT, 25th Infantry Division and sent back to Kunar for a year in 2011-2012. The soldiers I served with inspired me with their devotion to the mission while my leadership (both NCO and officer) displayed a constant professionalism that burgeoned my motivation to return to school and pursue the career path I set forth upon prior to my enlistment in the Army.
In 2013, following my ETS from the U.S. Army after six years of service, a long-time friend, Masai Mwinzi, approached me with an idea to create a web site dedicated to global news analysis. His concept was to provide in-depth research analysis on issues relating to international affairs, to include topics such as foreign policy decision-making and world events, so that they could be presented to readers in the form of online articles and opinion pieces. It was in this spirit that he and I co-founded and created the web site Foreign Intrigue. Since starting the site, I have written articles on such disparate topics as resurgent Russian imperialist policy, the North Caucasus (to include Dagestan), political crises in Ukraine and Thailand (both before and after the crisis’s pivotal moment this past week), the evolution of terrorism in Pakistan, the destabilizing influence of insurrectionist groups in East and Central Africa, and the complex and tenuous security situation in the East and South China Seas.
Most recently, I have returned to graduate school. In March of 2014, I was admitted to the School of International Service (SIS) graduate program at The American University in the department of Comparative Regional Studies (CRS). My newest postgraduate program will further refine my previous research of foreign comparative policy. My program will focus primarily on Russian policy as relates to Eastern Europe and Central Eurasia.
I’m very excited to be coming aboard an exceptionally talented and experienced team of writers and contributors here at SOFREP. The weight of the credentials the founders of the site carry (as well as the other writers) makes the task of contributing here a daunting one. However, after being asked to be a part of it, I very eagerly accepted the challenge. Aside from all of the aforementioned, I’m an obsessed Chicago sports fan: Hockey, football, and baseball are more a religion than a hobby. In this, I’m a fairly typical Chicagoan even while transplanted to Washington, DC.
Finally, thank you, the reader, for your attention both today and in future articles. I am hopeful that you will find that my academic and professional experience conflate to provide an interesting and insightful perspective on issues of international relations, foreign policy, and global news. I look forward to bringing you exhaustively researched articles on some timely events and important international topics.