- Lieutenant Colonel John Gonzales
Lieutenant Colonel John F. Gonzales, United States Air Force, is a National Defense Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Before his fellowship, Lt Col Gonzales was the Commander of the 23d Operations Support Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. This squadron is responsible for flying operations support to include intelligence, weapons and tactics, air traffic control, airfield management, airspace management, range management, weather and aircrew flight equipment support.
Lt Col Gonzales received his commission as a Distinguished Graduate from the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of New Mexico in 1996. After graduating from Euro-NATO Joint Net Pilot Training, he served as an A-10 pilot and instructor at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, and Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. For his next assignment, he transitioned to the F-117 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, and attended the United States Air Force Weapons Instructor Course where he was recognized as a Distinguished Graduate.
Lt Col Gonzales then attended Air Command and Staff College and the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. After Maxwell, he was assigned as the Strategy Division Chief for US Southern Command’s Air Operations Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where he participated in Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE in support of the government of Haiti.
Lt Col Gonzales then transitioned back to the A-10 and was assigned as the Chief of Safety for the 23d Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. He deployed as the Chief of Safety for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, where he also flew combat missions in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and International Security Assistance Forces. Upon his return, he was selected to command the 23d Operations Support Squadron.
Lt Col Gonzales is married to the former Nicole Criswell of Marblehead, Massachusetts. They have five children – Madeleine, Michael, Anna, Ellie, and Janey.
- Lieutenant Colonel David Kobs
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) David Kobs, Army (RA), is a Military Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy. LTC Kobs has over twenty four years active and reserve service in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman, Armor Officer, and Foreign Area Officer.
Born in Boston and raised in Pepperell, Massachusetts, LTC Kobs enlisted as an Infantryman in the 104th Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard in 1989 while attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
LTC Kobs was commissioned as an Armor Officer in 1993 and served his initial assignment in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Polk, Louisiana. From Fort Polk, he deployed to Haiti as part of Multi-National Forces Haiti and later the United Nations Mission in Haiti. He was then assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. As part of the Division Headquarters, LTC Kobs deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina where he served as the Command Historian for Multi-National Division North. On his return from Bosnia, he was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment as the Squadron Logistics Officer and C Troop Commander.
After Troop Command, LTC Kobs was selected as a Middle East Foreign Area Officer (FAO). His initial FAO assignment was to the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan where he served as an exchange officer with the Jordanian 4th Tank Battalion. He later served as a Branch Chief with the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Iraq Division and deployed to Iraq twice with DIA. While serving with DIA, LTC Kobs was selected to serve at the White House as the Operations Coordinator for the National Security Council Staff’s Iraq and Afghanistan Team in the Bush Administration and later as the Executive Officer to Lieutenant General Doug Lute, Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Obama Administration.
On leaving the White House, LTC Kobs was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, as the Assistant Army Attaché. LTC Kobs was in Cairo during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and was on the first interagency team sent to the Egypt-Libya border during the Libyan civil war. He was then selected to command a military advisor team in Afghanistan where he served as the senior advisor to the 4th Afghan Civil Order Police Brigade in Gardez, Afghanistan. After service in Afghanistan, LTC Kobs was assigned to U.S. Army Human Resources Command as the FAO Branch Chief.
LTC Kobs holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Massachusetts, Associate of Arts in Arabic from the Defense Language Institute, and Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas. His military education includes the Armor Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Jordanian Army Fighting in Built-Up Areas Course, and Joint Military Attaché School. LTC Kobs has numerous military awards and decorations including the Combat Action Badge and Presidential Service Badge.
LTC Kobs is married to the former Amanda Dalie of Springfield, Ohio, and they have two children – Hanna (9) and Alex (5).
- Colonel Gary Mann
Colonel Gary J. Mann, US Army is a Military Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. His last assignment was commanding the 450th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Battalion, Houston, TX. The 450th CBRN Battalion trained to respond to both enemy and terrorist use of WMD on the battlefield or within the US.
COL Mann withdrew from high school to enlist in Dec 1981. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and an Army commission from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, AR in 1991.
COL Mann's enlisted service included active duty as a Mortarman in the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, with deployment to the Sinai, Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers, and combat during Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada), then reserve assignments as a Weapons NCO, A Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Special Forces Group and Combat Instructor with the 95th Training Division, attaining the rank of Sergeant.
Upon commissioning, COL Mann was assigned as a Chemical Officer in the Arkansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 114th Aviation (Attack Helicopter). He later transferred to the Army Reserve as a Smoke Platoon Leader in the 360th Chemical Company. Upon entering the Army Reserve's Active Guard and Reserve program in 1994 he was assigned to the Army Recruiting Battalion, Harrisburg, PA serving as the Army Reserve Operations Officer. Following this assignment, COL Mann was assigned to the 490th Chemical Battalion, Anniston, AL as the Personnel Officer. Subsequent assignments included the 640th Area Support Group, Nashville, TN where he served as the Group Operations Officer and the Homeland Defense, Civil Support, Foreign Humanitarian Assistance, and Noncombatant Evacuations Operations planner, J5 Plans and Policy Directorate, US Pacific Command located at Camp Smith, HI.
In 2008, COL Mann reported to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to complete a Masters Degree and designation as an Army Strategist. In 2009 he reported to the Chief, Army Reserve's Office, Strategy and Integration Division as a strategist. COL Mann deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan as a strategist, then Chief of Plans, US Forces Afghanistan, J5 Plans, in March 2011.
COL Mann is Joint Qualified and has completed the Army War College’s Basic Strategic Arts Program and the Defense Strategy Course, the Advanced Joint Professional Military Education Level II, Command and General Staff Officers Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Chemical Officer Basic & Advance Course, the Biological Integrated Detection System Course and Airborne School.
His awards include the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (4th Award), Joint Meritorious Unit Award (2nd Award), the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Grenada), Afghanistan Campaign Medal (2 Campaign Stars), NATO Medal (ISAF), the Multinational Force and Observers Medal, Army Staff Officers Badge, Expert Infantryman's Badge, US & Korean Parachutist Badge and the Chemical Corps Regimental Association’s Order of the Dragon.
COL Mann is married to Beth Avery, PharmD, originally from Hope, AR. He enjoys riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle, running, traveling, and discussing history and current events.
- Colonel Tim Rieger
Colonel (COL) Tim Rieger, U.S. Army CA NG, is a United States Army War College Fellow at the Fletcher
School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. COL Rieger is a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer and serves as the State Staff Judge Advocate for California, where he is responsible for the Army and Air Force JAG Corps of the California National Guard. COL Rieger is a traditional reservist and works full time on federal court ordered prison reform as an attorney for California.
COL Rieger has served in a wide variety of military assignments. Most recently, COL Rieger has been working with Nigeria and Ukraine, California’s State Partnership Program countries, in a Department of Defense program designed to join U.S. States with partner countries around the world for the purpose of improving the Rule of Law and mutually supporting each countries security cooperation objectives. COL Rieger has also worked on Rule of Law and security cooperation issues while deployed to Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom and while deployed to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In California, COL Rieger has extensive military experience with Defense Support to Civilian Authorities and FEMA Homeland Response Force issues for disaster relief, as well as homeland defense, including assignments on active duty in Operation Noble Eagle.
COL Rieger has also served in several legal and policy positions as a lawyer for California. He has worked as: the Governor of California’s Deputy Cabinet Affairs Secretary for Public Safety; Deputy Director at the California Department of Justice; a Deputy Attorney General for the California Attorney General; and, a Deputy District Attorney for the County of Sacramento. COL Rieger currently works on California’s compliance with federal court orders and mandates regarding the California Prison System.
COL Rieger is a graduate of numerous military schools, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles (BA)) and UOP (University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (JD)). His awards include the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)), Meritorious Service Medal (2 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (2 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (1 OLC), Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
He is married to Regina (Gina) Keenan and their wonderful children include: son David (26); daughter-in-law Emily (23); granddaughter Teegan (1); and, daughter Kelli (24).
- Lieutenant Colonel Wilson Rutherford
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Wilson "Trey" R. Rutherford IV, Army (RA), is a National Defense Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Prior to this assignment, LTC Rutherford served as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations (G3/5/7) of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA. The 7th Infantry Division is comprised of seven brigades and approximately 22,000 Soldiers, making it the largest in the United States Army.
LTC Rutherford received his commission as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry following graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1993. His first assignment was as a Platoon Leader, Executive Officer and Scout Platoon Leader in 3rd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, Kirchgons, Germany, where he participated in the first NATO Partnership for Peace exercise in Poznan, Poland. He then deployed with the United Nations to Operation Able Sentry in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. LTC Rutherford participated in NATO’s second Partnership for Peace exercise in the Czech Republic, then deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of the NATO Implementation Force sent to enforce the Dayton Peace Accord in Operation Joint Endeavor.
Following his tour in Germany, LTC Rutherford served as the Division Training Officer, 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC, and later as Assistant Regimental Operations Officer (S3) and Company Commander of an airborne rifle company in 3rd Brigade, 82d Airborne Division. He left the 82d Airborne Division to serve as an Observer-Controller at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, LA, following company command, where he participated in the rotations of twenty-two brigades.
LTC Rutherford then served as the Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and later to the Deputy Commanding General of Multi-National Force-Iraq, where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
LTC Rutherford returned to the 82d Airborne Division serving as the Brigade Logistics Officer (S4) for 2nd Brigade Combat Team when the brigade underwent modularization to the Brigade Combat Team structure. He then served as the Battalion Operations Officer (S3) and Executive Officer (XO) for 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment during a fifteen month surge deployment to Sadr City, Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit received notice and deployed in less than two weeks. Following the deployment, LTC Rutherford served as the Brigade Executive Officer (XO) for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82d Airborne Division.
LTC Rutherford then assumed command of A Company, 2nd Para Battalion, The British Parachute Regiment, serving as the US Exchange Officer to 16th Air Assault Brigade (UK), Colchester Garrison, England, where he commanded 160 airborne light infantry Soldiers in the British Army. He deployed the company to Kenya in support of UK Operation Grand Prix.
LTC Rutherford returned from England to assume command of 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA. He deployed the Stryker infantry battalion in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Regional Command – South. The Task Force he commanded, which was comprised of over 1,200 personnel, including DoS, USAID and USACE representatives, operated in the highly contested birthplace of the Taliban, Panjwaii District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
LTC Rutherford’s military schools include the Infantry Officer’s Basic Course, the Aviation Officer’s Advanced Course, and the Command and General Staff College. He holds a Bachelors Degree of Science from the United States Military Academy, and a Masters Degree in Management from Webster University.
His awards and decoration include the Bronze Star Medal (3 awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab, and British and Egyptian Jump Wings.
LTC Rutherford is married to the former Caitlin DeLaney of Gainesville, FL, and has two sons, Wilson (6 years old) and Duncan (4 years old).
- Lieutenant Commander David Sandomir
Lieutenant Commander David C. Sandomir, US Navy, was raised in Tempe, Arizona, and entered the Navy in 1999 as an Electronics Warfare Technician. He earned his commission in 2003 through Auburn University NROTC Unit.
His assignments at sea include Combat Information Center Officer and Main Propulsion Division Officer aboard USS FORD (FFG 54), Navigator and Operations Officer aboard the experimental Littoral Combat Ship risk mitigation platform, SEA FIGHTER (FSF-1), Chief Engineer aboard USS HALSEY (DDG 97) and USS RUSSELL (DDG 59), and Material Readiness Staff Officer in COMMANDER, DESTROYER SQUADRON TWO ONE. During these operational tours, he completed deployments and missions in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, and Western Pacific.
Ashore, he served as a Junior Officer Detailer, Bureau of Naval Personnel, PERS-41 (Surface Warfare); completed Spanish linguistics aptitude certification, Defense Foreign Language Institute, Monterey, CA.
Lieutenant Commander Sandomir’s personal decorations include four Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Achievement Medals and various service campaign and unit decorations.
Lieutenant Commander Sandomir holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Auburn University, Auburn, AL, and a Master of Homeland Defense and Security from The Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. He resides in San Diego, CA, with his wife and 3 children.
- Lieutenant Colonel John Traxler
Lieutenant Colonel John Traxler, United States Air Force, was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He was first assigned as an enlisted Combat Control Operator to McChord AFB, Washington. While deployed to Somalia in support of Operations Provide Relief and Restore Hope, then Airman First Class Traxler controlled more than 600 sorties, participating in vital humanitarian, rescue, military, and ground combat operations. He was commissioned in July of 1997 as a Special Tactics Officer. He served as the Special Tactics Mission Commander for Joint Special Operations Task Force II, and as Combat Search and Rescue Team Leader, participating in numerous classified air and ground missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. He has conducted numerous Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. While serving at HQ AFSOC, he established and directed the Terminal Control Operations Branch, the USSOCOM proponent for Terminal Control Operations. While assigned to the Air Force Intern Program, he served on the CSAF Commander’s Action Group as a speechwriter for the SECAF, USECAF, CSAF, and VCSAF. He later served in the SECDEF Office of the General Counsel. While deployed in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM he served as the Fire Support Officer for the Coalition Joint Special Operations Task Force, South (Task Force K-BAR). While on the ground in Afghanistan, he deployed on numerous classified missions with elite multinational special operations units in direct combat, and served as OIC and CoS of Special Operations Command and Control Elements. He led development of the Afghanistan National Army Commando Program, and served as US Embassy and NATO ISAF LNO in Kabul. He also participated in numerous classified air and ground missions in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. As Terminal Attack Controller, Fire Support Officer and Rescue Coordination officer for Navy Special Warfare Task Group CENT, he controlled numerous Close Air Support sorties and successfully engaged enemy forces on the ground in direct combat. As Commander of the 320th Special Tactics Squadron in Okinawa, Japan, he commanded special operators conducting continuous operations in three combat theaters; Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Philippines. He served as Mission Commander for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations following three earthquakes in Padang, Indonesia. Later, he deployed with his squadron, establishing and commanding forces in Honshu, Japan following the catastrophic 9.0 earthquake, 13m tsunami, and nuclear disaster. His unit established remote airfields and set up the primary relief hub for international humanitarian operations out of Sendai Airfield. He then went on to command the 17th Air Support Operations Squadron and 17th Special Tactics Squadron, serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment and providing decisive integration of ground, air and space power during combat operations in support of elite multinational and joint special operations forces. During this time, he provided a continuous forward deployed combat presence in Afghanistan while commanding special operators at three geographic locations, supporting 13 combat deployment rotations and more than 1,400 direct-action night raids that resulted in 622 enemy insurgents killed, 2,827 detainees, and the capture of 717 high value individuals.
Lieutenant Colonel Traxler holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from The George Washington University in Washington DC. His military education includes Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, the Air Force Intern Program, and the Joint Forces Staff College Joint & Combined Warfighting School. In addition, he is a graduate of various military courses to include Combat Control/Pararescue Indoctrination, Air Traffic Control School, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE), Water Survival, and Naval Special Warfare SEAL (BUDS) Training, Class 217 (Ph II)
Lieutenant Colonel Traxler's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3OLC), Joint Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal (2OLC), Navy Commendation Medal with Valor, Air Force Achievement Medal (3OLC), Air Force Combat Action Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon, two Navy Presidential Unit Citations, Humanitarian Service Medal (3 devices), United Nations Medal, and Nato Medal. He has also earned the Army Parachutist Badge, Military Freefall Badge, and Combat Diver Badge. He holds the Indonesian and Malaysian Parachutist badges, and the Malaysian Special Forces 'Korpaskas' qualification badge.
Lieutenant Colonel Traxler is married to the former Erica Lynn Robohn of Spokane, Washington. They have four children, Ian (15), Kelsey (11), Catie (9), and Jack (7).
- Debra Walker
Ms. Debra A. Walker was appointed Director of the Office of Survivors Assistance, Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, on November 22, 2010. Prior to this appointment, she served as Executive Assistant for the Office of Human Resources and Administration, Executive Reviewer for the Office of the Executive Secretariat, and Management Analyst for the Office of Human Resources Management.
Prior to joining the Department in February 2004, Ms. Walker was the Organization and Public Affairs Officer for the City of Miramar, Florida, where she also held the positions of City Clerk and Assistant to the City Manager beginning in 1998.
Ms. Walker began her public service career in October 1989 as Graduate Management Intern with the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue, where she also served as Management Analyst I and Management and Budget Analyst II in the County’s Office of Management and Budget. Ms. Walker continued her career in 1994 as Senior Management Analyst for Manatee County, Florida.
Ms. Walker earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Presbyterian College and her Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also has a Certificate in Human Resources from George Mason University.
Ms Walker is a Veteran who proudly served in the United States Army.
- Colonel Andrew Zacherl
Colonel Andrew Zacherl, Army (RA) - I am a Colonel in the U.S. Army. Prior to attending Tufts, I was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC where I served as the Battalion Commander of the 5th Military Information Support Battalion and the Operations Officer of the Military Information Support Command.
While at Fort Bragg I deployed to Afghanistan where I commanded the Military Information Support Task Force - Afghanistan. During the course of 23 years of service I have been stationed at a variety of locations in the U.S. and Germany. Additionally I have deployed numerous times across Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
I was commissioned in 1991 through the ROTC program at the University of Oklahoma where I earned a Bachelors in Public Administration. I have also earned a Masters in Defense Analysis from the Naval Post Graduate School. I am married to my wife, Marcy, and we have two children, Hali and Yancy, both of whom are attending college in Florida. In my free time, my wife and I enjoy hiking, movies and traveling.