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PNSR Bids Farewell As It Ends Operations; New Publications

July 31, 2012 in News by admin

For more than five years, the dedicated men and women of the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) worked vigorously to modernize the failing U.S. national security system. Alert to the dangers of the current antiquated system, PNSR’s staff analyzed the sources of dysfunction and inefficiency and formulated bold fixes to transform the system for 21st century challenges. This comprehensive, rigorous, insightful, and innovative collection of work is a source of pride for PNSR. The many accomplishments of PNSR are summarized here, and the publications tab contains PNSR’s reports, case studies, and related papers.

Despite the depth, breadth, and quality of these intellectual products and a long list of distinguished supporters, PNSR was unable to bring about the necessary transformation. Two principal obstacles blocked needed changes: denial about the seriousness of shortcomings in the national security system and lack of political will to fix these shortcomings.

Sweeping changes must be realized soon if the nation’s security and prosperity are to be assured. Toward this goal, this new website preserves PNSR’s work for use by those who will carry forward this critical mission. (PNSR’s former website may still be found at

Although PNSR ceased operations on December 31, 2011, work on national security transformation continues in many government and nongovernment institutions and among private citizens. Former PNSR staff will continue to have contact with these institutions, individuals, and others interested in national security transformation through Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts. Inquiries can also be sent directly to PNSR at the email addresses provided on this website (

More than one hundred organizations and three hundred national security professionals contributed to PNSR’s work. The entire PNSR community is grateful for this extensive support. Great appreciation and respect must also go to the PNSR core staff, a group of public-interest, selfless patriots who endured great hardships and worked pro bono in service to the nation. I was proud to have been their leader.

PNSR has charted the path to a more secure America. What is needed now are political leaders with the vision and courage to follow and improve upon this path.

James R. Locher III
President and CEO
Project on National Security Reform
July 2012

Despite closing operations, the PNSR community continues work on a number of publications, which will be featured on the PNSR website as they are released.

Evan Munsing and Christopher J. Lamb, Joint Interagency Task Force–South: The Best Known, Least Understood Interagency Success (Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University 2011)

Fletcher Schoen and Christopher J. Lamb, Deception, Disinformation, and Strategic Communications: How One Interagency Group Made a Major Difference (Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University 2012)

Richard Weitz (Editor), PNSR Case Studies Vol. 2 (Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College 2012)


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PNSR Recommends Active Role for Legal Community

December 2, 2011 in News, Report by admin

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) released today a new report, “The Legal Affairs Roundtable Series on National Security Transformation.” It calls on the legal community, especially the American Bar Association, to “contribute their authoritative voice[s] to the public debate on needed changes” to the national security system.

The report represents the work of more than eighty dedicated national security attorneys, practitioners, and subject matter experts, including Secretary Michael Chertoff, Admiral Dennis Blair, Judge James Baker and General Stanley McChrystal. During three roundtables, participants debated the legal impediments to, and remedies for, the optimal performance of the national security system — specifically addressing the National Security Council, unity of effort proposals and the Intelligence Community. Additionally, during a concluding conference, participants discussed the legal challenges to making reforms and the role of the legal community. Although based upon the discussions during the roundtable series, the resulting report is solely the responsibility of PNSR.

A grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York funded the roundtable series. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Bingham McCutchen LLC and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group joined PNSR as sponsors. Arnold & Porter LLP and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars also supported the roundtable series.

The majority of roundtable participants concluded that sweeping reform of the national security system, which encompasses the complex whole of all national security institutions, is necessary. They found the system “mostly ‘stove-piped’ and hierarchical, posing roadblocks to integrated [whole-of-government] consideration of national security policy and issues.”

Most roundtable participants recognized that the current National Security Council apparatus “struggles to be an effective management and integration arm of the president in a security environment characterized by increasing complexity, uncertainty and speed.” Debated remedies included expanding the role of the national security advisor to serve as a national security manager and strengthening the ability of the National Security Staff to integrate the expertise and capabilities of departments and agencies.

Concerning unity of effort in national security operations abroad, participants generally agreed on “the need for better interagency cooperation and for executive cross-agency authority to be developed.” They concluded, “Existing solutions, such as czars and lead agencies, have proven inadequate.” In particular, participants urged improved integration by departments and agencies in their execution of U.S. regional policy abroad and the need for interagency teams in the field.

Despite passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, participants found “the required level of integration across the sixteen components of the Intelligence Community has not been achieved.” Key areas for reform focused on the role of the Director of National Intelligence, oversight of the Intelligence Community and information-sharing policies.

Noting the important role of lawyers in any reform effort, the concluding conference produced several recommendations for the legal community:
• Develop a definition for national security law and an agreed-upon body of statutes and executive orders that make up this law.
• Draft and advance transformation proposals in all forms.
• Outline the scope of executive authority in making institutional changes and what reforms require legislative action.
• Advocate publicly for national security transformation.
• Review how congressional organization affects attempts to create a whole-of-government approach to national security issues.

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PNSR Envisions National Security in 2026

November 9, 2011 in News, Report by admin

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) today released “America’s First Quarter Millennium: Envisioning a Transformed National Security System in 2026,” a paper prepared by Christopher Holshek, PNSR Senior Associate. Holshek will present ideas from the paper at today’s National Defense University symposium, “Forging an American Grand Strategy.” The paper encompasses many transformative concepts developed by PNSR and its partners over the past five years.

The paper may be found here.

To view the website for the paper and post comments, click here.


“America’s First Quarter Millennium” finds the United States no longer the dominant power and standing at a crossroads. Of the two roads in front of the nation, the paper notes, “One way lays the path of inertia and declining returns from an aging national security system. The other way is the ‘road less travelled by,’ leading to greater security and prosperity for future generations.” Given the magnitude of required institutional changes, the paper observes, “To commit to this road, we must first envision its destination: a transformed national security system. A clear vision of a newly created system will point the way ahead for change, reduce fear of the unknown, attract commitment, and demonstrate that transformation is doable.”

PNSR envisions “an anticipatory, collaborative, agile, and innovative system capable of combining all elements of national strength, integrating intelligence, making timely and informed decisions, and taking decisive action.” It would be characterized by “whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approaches, unity of purpose and effort, and prioritized investments emphasizing strengths and opportunities.” Many changes would model organizational reforms successfully adopted by the private sector.

This short, modular paper seeks to inspire a true “national conversation” to envision this future. It is a public-working-draft, casting a wide net among stakeholders to capture the best of America’s collective wisdom. Written in the past tense, it looks back in order to look forward. Components of the envisioned system include: comprehensive strategy; foresight and anticipatory governance; strategic management; interagency high-performance teaming; integrated and flexible national security resourcing; role of Congress; public-private partnering and global networking; and our greatest strength – human capital.

About the Author

Col. Christopher Holshek is a retired U.S. Army Reserve civil affairs officer. After leaving the Army, Holshek took an 8,000 mile tour of the country on his Harley-Davidson and created a blog, “Two Wheels and Two Questions,” where he reflected on America’s place in the world and experiences from his career. Over the years, he has had significant input to the development of civil-military policy and doctrine in the U.S. military, NATO, and United Nations. Effectively fusing his parallel civilian and military careers, he is a rare American who has served in United Nations peace operations in both civilian and military capacities.

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Lessons Learned From the Demise of Bin Laden

May 19, 2011 in News by admin

WASHINGTON, DC – James R. Locher III, President and CEO of the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR), said he was “really proud” on Monday, May 2 after hearing about the successful raid on Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs the day before. Locher, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict and architect behind the Cohen-Nunn legislation that created U.S. Special Operations Command, played a significant role in building modern special operations forces.

Kathryn Boughton, a reporter for the Litchfield County Times, interviewed Locher after he spoke at the Kent Memorial Library the day of the raid. He said, “In Kent, I talked about Gen. Stanley McChrystal and what he had done in terms of creating interagency teams. I suspect we saw that same approach in Pakistan. It is exactly the kind of collaboration and teamwork that we really need — but it is a real exception.”

Locher’s comments drew from a recent study in PNSR’s research agenda. Released by the Institute of National Strategic Studies (INSS), “Secret Weapon: High-value Target Teams (HTT) as Organizational Innovation,” authors Christopher Lamb and Evan Munsing describe the power of interagency teams and what makes them work. Foreign Policy defense blogger and Center for a New American Security Senior Fellow, Thomas Ricks, wrote of the study, “this is one of the most interesting monographs I’ve read in some time… The most compelling part of the study is the discussion of interviews with former members of the high-value targeting teams about what worked and why.”

Three key innovations — networked-based targeting, the fusion of intelligence and operations, and the integration of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency — required unprecedented collaboration between diverse departments and agencies and special operations forces. In order to succeed, the teams required common purpose, clearly delegated authorities, a small size, co-location, and a supportive organizational context.

The case study also illustrates the lack of interest in interagency teams, why they atrophy, and why in all likelihood the United States will fail to institutionalize this powerful new capability. Locher said, “The next time we have a need, we will be fortunate to have someone like Gen. McChrystal, because what he did is not institutionalized.”

In addition, as written on the PNSR blog, “even at this high point of success, high value target teams cannot be the sole solution to America’s security challenges.” Yet, if the U.S. government can bring the same effectiveness used in the bin Laden raid to address other security problems (for example, U.S. development aid to Pakistan), it could transform the future of U.S. national security.

Colonel (retired) Christopher Holshek, a PNSR Senior Associate, wrote in The Huffington Post:

“…National security writ large had not only become more globalized by 9/11, it had also become more humanized. Outside Iraq and Afghanistan, with which Washington has largely been obsessed for nearly a decade, in places like Africa that represent the bulk of security and development challenges around the world, “human security” and civil society challenges such as poverty and food security, rule-of-law and justice, governance, economic development and job creation, and public health contextualize the security problem. Human security is about individuals and communities, empowered by global interconnectivity and the 24/7 media — terrorists as much as protest organizers.”

However, Locher warns, the U.S. government is too slow at adapting to the rapid changes occurring in the world, especially at a time of fiscal constraint. He said, “We have always been able to win ugly by throwing money at a problem, but that is no longer the case. We have lost our margin for error and we are headed for a decade of austerity, when even great programs are being killed. The times call for a national security system that is effective, efficient, participatory, and agile. Unfortunately, we don’t have it. We have the opposite of that — a system that is archaic, designed 63 years ago, that still clings to Cold War concepts. How can we secure our children’s future with our grandparents’ government?”

Locher says in Washington, “Everyone is working as hard as they can to stay ahead of the 24-hour-a-day news cycle… There is no time to worry about institutional reform.”

Institutional reform is integral to the future of U.S. national security. As the PNSR blog states, “the special operations forces that conducted the bin Laden operation were themselves a product of Congressional reforms from the late 1980s. Legislation offered by Senator Sam Nunn and Senator William Cohen and supported by many others passed into law and created the U.S. Special Operations Command. As a result, the United States has the world’s finest special operations forces.”

As the U.S. reflects on the lessons learned from 9/11 to the demise of bin Laden, as the end of the heavy American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan comes into view, and as the Middle East reshapes itself, it is high-time to transform the U.S. national security system for the next chapter of the American power and influence in the world.

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Jonathan Breul, Executive Director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government, Joins the Project on National Security Reform’s Guiding Coalition

March 31, 2011 in News by admin

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) is pleased to announce that Jonathan D. Breul has joined PNSR’s Guiding Coalition, a group of preeminent national security leaders working to transform the national security system. Mr. Breul joins former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair, former Treasury Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmitt, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge as recent appointments to the Guiding Coalition.

Breul, formerly Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director for Management in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), currently serves as the Executive Director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government.

Of PNSR’s work, Breul noted, “The Project on National Security Reform is providing much deeper awareness and understanding of the need for fundamental reform to our national security system and an insightful view of the changes today’s world demands.”

During his time at OMB, Breul served as the senior career executive with primary responsibility for government-wide general management policies. He helped develop the President’s Management Agenda, was instrumental in establishing the President’s Management Council, and led the development and government-wide implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act. In addition to his OMB activities, he helped Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio) launch the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act.

PNSR President and CEO James R. Locher III said, “Jonathan Breul brings great expertise and experience to the Guiding Coalition. He is at the forefront of advanced management thinking. Having worked at the highest level of government, Jonathan has an invaluable perspective on how new management approaches could benefit our national security system.”

Mr. Breul is also an elected Fellow of the National Academy Public Administration (NAPA), and an adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Graduate Public Policy Institute. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from Northeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts from Colby College.

“The national security system is grossly inefficient. Jonathan Breul’s expertise in formulating and implementing government-wide performance improvements will be vitally important as PNSR develops reforms to strengthen the national security budgeting process,” said Locher.

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Margaret Cope, Retired Air Force Colonel and Logistics Expert, Joins the Project on National Security Reform as a Senior Advisor

March 29, 2011 in News by admin

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) is pleased to announce Margaret Cope, a recently retired Air Force Colonel, has joined PNSR as a Senior Advisor. Colonel Cope is a transformational leader with over 25 years of success as a logistics officer with command and staff experience, including assignments in squadrons, groups, wings, logistics centers and headquarters. Her last assignment was in the Pentagon, HQ USAF in the Logistics Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support.

As the Air Force lead to the federal interagency logistics program, she developed the Air Force’s contributions and collaborated with other agencies from the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and General Services Administration to establish the Whole of Government Logistics Effort.

“My recent experience as Air Force lead developing the Whole of Government Logistics Effort clearly demonstrated the urgent need and value of interagency collaboration and the expansion from whole of government to whole of nation and in some cases whole of world to meet the rapid pace of threats, challenges and opportunities for our national security. I am delighted to join PNSR as it leads the transformation of our national security system to sustainability.”

She also championed the Air Force Maintenance Strategic Plan, transforming maintenance, inspection, and accounting processes that had remained virtually unchanged for 40 years. Colonel Cope’s guidance was instrumental in the Air Force Repair Network Transformation, a plan for modernizing the 55 year old maintenance organization of the entire Air Force into a lean and flexible system.

Prior to assuming her position at the Air Staff, Colonel Cope was the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, where she assisted in leading 13,000 military and civilian personnel. Colonel Cope also oversaw an $8.4 billion budget for global logistics support of cargo, warning and control, bomber, and stealth bomber aircraft. Colonel Cope represented the Air Logistics Center Commander at executive-level meetings with local, state, and federal government and industry.

Colonel Cope has additional experience in human capital, including building the initial Air Force Reserve Acquisition/Scientist and Engineer Career Developmental Team, and serving as a key senior advisor and member of the Aircraft Maintenance Career Development Team. Her leadership and oversight of the two teams ensured the Air Force provided over 8,000 officers with career guidance, resulting in the selection of over 758 highly qualified officers for command positions.

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Chuck Lutes, Former Director for Nonproliferation on the National Security Staff, Joins the Project on National Reform as a Senior Advisor

February 28, 2011 in News by admin

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform is pleased to announce Chuck Lutes, a recently retired Air Force Colonel, has joined the PNSR as a Senior Advisor. Until retirement, Colonel Lutes served as the Director for Nonproliferation on President Obama’s National Security Staff at the White House, and previously as Director for Counterproliferation Strategy on President George W. Bush’s National Security Council staff.

“My twenty-eight year military career took me from the flight line to the White House, and has convinced me of the need for reform at every level of our national security system,” said Colonel Lutes. “We owe it to our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and to the American taxpayer to transform our government to make it more flexible and agile to meet the security threats of the 21st century. I am pleased to be part of that effort through PNSR.”

“Chuck brings with him recent insight from the highest levels of U.S. policymaking, deep knowledge of national security issues from space to nuclear weapons, and education in organizational analysis,” said PNSR President and CEO James R. Locher III. “Chuck’s experience makes him a perfect fit for PNSR. We are thrilled to have him with us.”

Chuck Lutes is also an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University and a Senior Analyst with The Tauri Group, an innovator in analytical consulting that applies creative, responsive problem-solving to homeland security, defense, and space enterprises.

While on active duty as an Air Force Colonel Lutes also served as a Senior Military Fellow at INSS, and in the Directorate for Plans, Policy and Strategy (J5) on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff as Chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Division, Chief of Strategic Plans, and Chief of Engagement Strategy.

Chuck Lutes holds engineering degrees from Duke University and the Air Force Institute of Technology, and has completed doctoral coursework in Human and Organizational Learning through the Executive Leadership Program at The George Washington University. He was also a National Security Fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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Experts Consider Unity of Effort in National Security Operations Abroad

February 25, 2011 in News by admin

WASHINGTON, DC – On February 23, the second roundtable event in a series addressing legal affairs on national security transformation took place at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “Unity of Effort in National Security Operations Abroad” examined the practical, political, and legal aspects of alternative means to promote unity of effort in these instances.

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Bingham McCutchen LLC, the Bipartisan Policy Center National Security Preparedness Group, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) co-sponsored the event, made possible through the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Participants included over forty legal and subject-matter experts with experiences ranging from U.S. federal military and civilian service, state governments, law firms, and think tanks. Topics covered the importance of unity of effort in national security operations, how this unity of effort might be achieved and the recommendation to apply the model of an expanded chief-of-mission authority to the problem. Regional frameworks for managing national security affairs abroad and the PNSR recommendation to establish integrated regional centers were also discussed. The roundtable event concluded with a discussion on the use of cross-functional interagency teaming at the sub-regional level.

Roundtable Chair and President and CEO of PNSR James R. Locher III stated: “As part of the discussion today, we answered the question that unity of effort is not only possible, but it is imperative. The experience and expertise of the participants provided great insight as to possible ways to proceed forward in addressing the lack of unity of effort on multiple levels of our national security operations abroad.”

This roundtable event was the second in a series of three roundtables and will include a concluding conference. The final roundtable will take place in May and will focus on intelligence reform. During the concluding conference, a final report will be produced to broaden awareness among participants and stakeholders of the process of shaping the legal instruments required to achieve national security transformation.

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Groundbreaking Paper on Authorities for Interagency Teams

February 18, 2011 in News by admin

WASHINGTON, DC – The Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) recently released a paper entitled “Chief of Mission Authority as a Model for National Security Integration” authored by Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) affiliates Dr. Christopher Lamb and Ambassador Edward Marks. This paper is a significant accomplishment for the national security transformation research agenda on interagency teams.

Please find a link to the full report below:

Overview of the Paper

Interagency teams — groups of people with diverse expertise given the authority to manage a single national security issue — are a national security system innovation that could increase the government’s responsiveness to threats and opportunities. Currently, the system lacks strong integrating authorities to achieve this.

To understand how interagency teams can function, Dr. Lamb and Ambassador Marks studied the Chief of Mission Authority granted to Ambassadors to manage embassies around the world. Embassies are staffed with people from myriad agencies: diplomats, military and intelligence officers, law enforcement professionals, development specialists and many others. Dr. Lamb and Ambassador Marks recommend expanding the use of Chief of Mission authority to “Mission Managers”, leaders who would be empowered to run other interagency teams throughout the national security system.

National security professionals usually receive authoritative direction only through their home department or agency, leading to friction when working on teams whose membership reflects multiple departments. In the paper, Dr. Lamb and Amb. Marks argue, “‘Unity of command’ from the President on down through the functional departments and agencies seems to preclude “unity of effort” for missions that are intrinsically interagency in nature and cut across those same chains of command.”

Implementation of these recommendations would require a legislative initiative to create Mission Managers, Senate confirmation of particular nominees and Congressional funding on a case-by-case basis of larger interagency efforts. The intent would be to give the national security system the structural flexibility and agility required to address the fast-moving challenges of today and tomorrow.

About the Authors

Dr. Lamb is Distinguished Research Fellow and Director of the Center for Strategic Research at INSS at the National Defense University. In 2008 Dr. Lamb was assigned to the PNSR study of the national security system, which led to the 2008 report, “Forging a New Shield.” Prior to joining INSS in 2004, Dr. Lamb served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Resources and Plans where he had oversight of war plans, requirements, acquisition, and resource allocation matters for the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy).

Ambassador Marks was a Foreign Service Officer of the United States from 1959-1995, retiring with the rank of Minister-Counselor. During his career he served in many countries in Africa, in the Office for Combating Terrorism, and at the United Nations. He has been a consultant to the World Food Program and the United Nations Development Program (on reorganization of the foreign affairs ministries of several countries that were former members of the Soviet Union). He is currently an active consultant, lecturer, and writer on crisis management and U.N. affairs. He is also the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Foreign Service Journal.

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Tom Ridge Joins the Project on National Security Reform’s Guiding Coalition

February 2, 2011 in News by admin

First Secretary of Homeland Security to Contribute Guidance on Critical National Security Concerns

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) is pleased to announce that The Honorable Tom Ridge has joined PNSR’s Guiding Coalition, a group of pre-eminent national security leaders working to transform the national security system. Secretary Ridge joins former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair, former Treasury Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmitt and former OMB Director James Nussle as recent appointments to the Guiding Coalition.

Ridge, the nation’s first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and former governor of Pennsylvania, is currently president and CEO of Ridge Global, an international security and risk management firm, headquartered in Washington, DC.

Of PNSR’s work, Ridge said, “Every day I see the serious challenges in the national security system that PNSR is working to resolve. I am pleased to contribute to PNSR’s important mission.”

During his tenure as secretary of DHS, Ridge worked with more than 180,000-plus employees from a combined 22 agencies to create an agency that facilitated the flow of people and goods, instituted layered security at air, land and seaports, developed a unified national response and recovery plan, protected critical infrastructure, integrated new technology and improved information sharing worldwide. Ridge served as secretary of this historic and critical endeavor until February 1, 2005.

PNSR President and CEO James R. Locher III said, “I am delighted that to welcome Secretary Ridge as a member of the PNSR team as we enter an exciting phase of continuing growth and maturity. His deep experience as a governor of change in Pennsylvania and as the first secretary of homeland security will be a tremendous asset.”

Prior to his appointment at DHS, Ridge became the first director of the White House Office of Homeland Security following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Ridge’s charge was to develop a comprehensive homeland security strategy and coordinate the government’s efforts to strengthen the country’s protection against terrorist attacks.

Ridge was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001, where he led the state to excel in economic development, education, health and the environment. In 1982, he became one of the first Vietnam combat veterans elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and was overwhelmingly re-elected by Pennsylvania voters five times. Ridge graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1967 and received his J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law.

“Tom Ridge brings perspectives from state government, the executive branch, and legislative branch – all incredibly important given that our national security requires that we work together throughout all levels of government to keep our nation secure,” said Locher.