National Security Lecture Series at DMGS

The Daniel Morgan Graduate School Lecture Series is specifically designed to bring together speakers with divergent opinions on national security with the goal of enabling the public to engage in robust and informed discussions. It has hosted some of the most distinguished and influential leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of the national security community. These members of the national security community have provided our students, faculty, and guests with first-rate analysis of some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Daniel Morgan Graduate School will continue to host speakers who can help prepare the next generation of leaders, scholars and, practitioners to develop actionable solutions to global and domestic security challenges.


The topic of my talk to today is “The Cold War Never Ended, Russia’s Quest for Revenge in 2016” and I want to be clear about why I am here and that is I’m here as a journalist who has been investigating, looking, searching, seeking, and collecting information about this particular topic for a very long time. I want to tell you about facts and information that I collected and have collected recently and began to realize that there was a pattern. I want to connect a few dots for you and show how Russia has made it very clear, and they have done so since the fall of the U.S.S.R., that they would get revenge against the West and U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said on several occasions in his own words “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 21st century was the breakup of the U.S.S.R.” Gradually, since then, he spoke about rebuilding—trying to return Russia to the superpower state as it was and the size it was during the Cold War. For many U.S. officials, they may have said many times the Cold War is over, but for years’ numerous signs have emerged in stark relief that suggest this idea simply is not true and my journalistic exploits in discussing with people, collecting information from sources, and talking to people confirm the falsity of that idea.

In the past decade, I have researched, investigated, written about, and reported on radio the developments related to this enigma. Russia’s development of cyber capabilities are key, as I lay what I’ve learned, today. A key development took place in October 2011 when the National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX), Robert Bear Bryant, issued a ground-breaking report that named the Russian government as a major perpetrator of espionage. Citing Russia or any country by name over the years preceding the 011 announcement had not been done for diplomatic purposes. Nonetheless, it was a true sign that the intelligence community saw something bad— really bad on the horizon and it was right. The report titled “Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace” noted Russia’s extensive, sophisticated operations motivated by Russia’s high dependence on national resources, the need to diversify its economy, and their belief that the global economic system is tilted towards the U.S. and other Western nations at the expense of Russia. Moscow believed it needed to get going. Moscow’s highly capable intelligence services, according to this report, used HUMINT, cyber, and other operations to collect economic information and technology to support Russia’s economic development and security.

Yet, in 2016, new evidence and new information has emerged indicating that Russia has expanded this into a very dangerous political plateau. Here’s where it gets interesting. Russia’s deployment of cyber and hybrid warfare tactics. I was in Sophia, Bulgaria, in mid-November, during a NATO conference, and NATO ACT, the Ally Command Transformation. It was the first time they had a journalist there observing or participating in this particular event and this particular event. There, they recognized a lot of what taking place in their space is becoming more critical and different from what they dealt with in the past.

I was there for the conference and David Kilcullen, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian military reserve and former chief strategist in the Office of Counterintelligence in the U.S. and senior counterinsurgency advisor to general David Petraeus in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, laid out something that was pretty mind-blowing to me. The Russian government has been doing a series of secret operation for a
number of years and as a result, and this is my journalistic assessment, they may have a slight edge on the U.S. because they have been engaging in these actions. Again this is based on what I believe the individuals I was talking to, were telling me, but I’ll get to that in just moment.

First, however, in 2008 Sergei Tretitov, a former top KGB and SVR spy, later a defector to the U.S., told me during an interview—and he said this in his own words—“the more Russia has money, the more aggressive Russia will be” and if you know Sergei you can see that he meant this and he meant this deeply. He said first of all “I want to underline, I am not a boy scout, I am not an alarmist and I am not an analyst but I know what the Russians are up to because,” he said, “I was a part of that governmental team that developed those plans.” He said “I know what their plans are and I know what the nature of today’s Russian government is.” Again, this is in 2008.But he was nonetheless looking ahead because he knew what he was seeing. He saw the beginnings of what we are looking at now. He is no longer with us; he passed away in 2010 unfortunately, but I believe if he were here today he would say “See? I told you so.”

Sergei also insisted “Russia will do everything it can to undermine American interest. What’s happening in the Caucasus’s right now,” he said of Georgia, specifically in 2008, “is an important player but not that important, the whole Russian Escapade in Georgia is aimed against the U.S. The reason that this is done is because Georgia is the closest and probably the only real ally of the US in NATO in the whole region of the Caucasus’s.” He continued to say “and for that, Georgia is supposed to be punished.”

“Right now,” he said, “I am watching Mr. Lavrov, Mr. Putin, and others that I worked with, and it is absolutely clear to me who was the real target of this action and it was not Georgia, it was the U.S.” He went on to say if the U.S. were in a stronger position geopolitically, Russia would never-ever do what they did in Georgia; these are the words of Sergei Tretitov, and he said essentially that this was a scenario where Russia started thinking they were not punishable, that they were above International Law, or just above the rest of the world in general. Segei iterated that they don’t care what the civilized world thinks of them. They’re only interested in achieving what they wanted to achieve. He said, “I don’t think the U.S. can do anything really to stop Russian aggression in Georgia or anywhere else in the world or in the Russian neighborhood specifically. Why? Because this would mean a direct military confrontation with Russia and no one wants that because it would be extremely dramatic and could lead to a military conflict.”

What Sergei was also saying was that the Russian government and the military have some clever ways to reach their objectives. He said they will use them to justify their goals. Example, the Georgian conflict in 2008, this is where David Kilcullen, who I told you I spoke with back in November, opened my eyes and it helped me connect the dots about cyber as a tactic: five years ago, the NCIX warned that Russia was developing capabilities. Kilcullen said to me in the days leading up to the Russian invasion of Georgia there was a large-scale cyber-attack on the Georgian government, on its web presence coming from criminal groups in part acting for the Russian government.

Early in the operation against Georgia, two of the hackers got into the bank account information of the Georgian military—the account they use to pay for commercial satellite imagery for their air defenses. On day 2 of that conflict in Georgia, they drained the money from that account. The next day, the Georgians didn’t have any money to pay for satellite imagery and their air defense system went down. On day 4, the Georgians stopped the conflict, this was because of a Russian sponsored cyber operation. Fast-forward to 2014 when the Russian government attacked another neighbor, Ukraine, using again another very unorthodox approach. Again, some dot connection was necessary and harkens back to what Sergei said about how “Russia will do everything they can to undermine American interest.” They used another unorthodox tactic, hybrid warfare, and little green men, masked soldiers in unmarked green army uniforms carrying modern Russian military weapons and equipment during the Crimea crisis. After months of denial, on December 17, 2015, President Putin confirmed the presence to Russian people, commenting, “in Ukraine we were engaged in certain tactics, including the military sphere.” But, he added, “this did not mean the presence of regular army.” What he meant was it was the Spetznaz. The Spetznaz are the Russian special forces military units which renowned as one of the most elite elements of their military.

The supreme allied commander Europe of NATO, General Philip Breedlove, also confirmed these little green men were in fact Russian troops. This was not an innovation— unorthodox but not an innovation. It was a copycat move. It was a page out of Nikita Khrushchev’s book, from Berlin—1961 and checkpoint Charlie. He ordered the removal of all of the markings from all of the tanks and the military personal off their uniforms that were in place as that long confrontation in Germany and the Cold War that we knew began. The tactic was part of a strategy, connecting the dots again, that Kilcullen says that something to which the West and the U.S. certainly need to pay attention: irregular warfare. In fact, he says Russia has built a whole new strategy about warfare and, according to Kilcullen, instead of using kinetic military might as the engine to drive its projection of national power it has elevated information warfare to the pinnacle. It is Putin’s principle approach.

According to Kilcullen, cyber, hybrid warfare, and kinetic tactics are simply an element of the information warfare strategy. Why did this happen? The lessons learned in the first Gulf War told to me by a top former US intelligence officer, was what the U.S. did in Iraq in 1991 was do two things: first, it stunned Iraqi forces because in 1991 Iraq had the number one military in the world in size of force in proportion to population. It was number 4 when it came to defense spending per capita, and number 6 for when it came to total military inactive duty personnel. Consequently, what happen from August 2, 1990 through January 17, 1991, left militaries around the world stunned at how quickly and how completely the U.S.-led coalition responded to and put down the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. On the flip side, the second
lesson this whole operation provided was a blueprint—laying out a road map for the U.S. state-based adversaries. Kilcullen said that what happen in Iraq showed traditional state-based adversaries that they should not try to match bombs and bullets with the U.S., but instead figure out redefining how to go to war with the U.S.

This former counter intelligence officer I spoke with said what happen was in the midst of it collapse, Russia realized it had nothing that could help it at that point deal with a head-to-head confrontation with the U.S. It couldn’t match power with the US. It needed something else. It needed a new approach. As a result, by the early 2000’s under Vladimir Putin, Russia began what it viewed as a resurgence by employing a new war strategy that the West may have underestimated. Russia began to redefine its view on war and according to this former counterintelligence operative, Russia adopted new concepts for confronting its adversaries. The U.S. needs to understand and embrace the fact that war, as far as Russia is concerned, is no longer what is it used to be. Warfare has changed. It is not just a kinetic tool. Kinetic operations are just a tool in the larger tool box: it’s not the leader, it’s not the driver, and, he said, the West should think of that anymore as a primary tool for Russia.

There are some that say that 2016 presidential election was attempted Russian coup, that is absurd on the face of it, but when you look deeply at what’s going on and based on the information that I have gathered from several sources, they have said this whole scenario involving Russia’s involvement in the election was not to choose one candidate over the other, but to influence the process and sew chaos in the process. Part of this has to do with the nuclear winter scenario many years ago and, according to these sources, Russia has decided to try to flip the script and use a daring, unique plan of action to engage the U.S. political system. We may not know what the results of the chaos they have sewed are for a long time, but it appears that it is a result of keen planning.

As Sergei said in 2008 in our interview: “Years ago, an operation to influence the election and foam at discord in the U.S. began.” So, what do we know about this operation? Well, one thing that we know it’s called, “Operation Pawn Storm.” It’s an ongoing cyber campaign that’s pretty far-reaching, and pretty ambitious. It has been known to primarily target military, embassy defense, and contractor personnel from the U.S., its allies—including government institutions like NATO—opposing factions, dissidents from the Russian government, international media, and high profile political personalities in countries like Ukraine and other countries that Russia does not consider to be friendly to Russian interests.

Some of Operation Pawns Storm’s most impressive or notable activities include the 2014 compromise of Polish websites. In December 2014, corporate accounts of 55 employees of a large U.S. newspaper were hacked. It started with basic phishing ploys—ones the FBI has been warning about this for a long time. In 2015, they targeted three popular YouTube bloggers with a similar phishing attack. In February 2015, using malicious iOS applications for espionage, it also attacked the NATO liaison in Ukraine with fake Outlook Web Access pages. Subsequently, there is no doubt Russia is engaging in a very sophisticated operation, not the least of which was, according to these sources that I have spoken to, a key tool when it came to figuring out how to access, steal, and proliferate emails that came from the Democratic National Committee.

Additionally, seventeen U.S. government intelligence agencies assessed with the high degree of confidence that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee. Other sources suggest the Russians sponsor, hacker programs have begun a similar process targeting the incoming administration, but I have not seen any evidence of this. I have talked to a lot of people. Nobody has anything that feel comfortable talking about or sharing, but they suggested that there is something taking place because knowing what they know about the leadership of the Russian government, and what they know about Russia’s motivation, and what Russia feels, they assess that there remain very strong feelings of revenge against the U.S. in the Russian Federation. These intelligence professionals assess that this it is just a matter of time before that activity, again apart of this umbrella of information, warfare, strategy, will emerge. Russia, according to these sources that I have spoken to, does not feel that it has the gun power, or the bullet power to match the U.S., but, they are hoping, they can do some other things by surprise.

As I’ve shown, Western intelligence officials say there are some very important things that we should be considering. Post-election distraction number one: They say it’s meant to buy Russia time to take action in Syria and other areas—areas in the Russian “neighborhood,” such as Eastern Europe, and other countries that make up the region. David Kilcullen pointed out during a briefing at this NATO conference that there is something called migration manipulation that he believes that the Russian government and others seem to have information suggesting that the Russian government has been heavily involved in. A good example is Kirkenes, a small town in Norway on the border with Russia. Nikel is the town on the other side of the border. Kirkenes has a policy that you cannot cross the border on foot. So, low and behold, during the height of the migration in the last few months they discovered in Kirkenes thousands
of children’s bicycles in this town which, arguably, may have a population of 1,500 people, meaning you are not going to have anywhere near that number of children in town. So, what happened, according to Kilcullen and some other sources that have spoken to him about this, someone provided bicycles for these migrants to cross the border into Kirkenes. They came through Nikel. He has certain suspicions about where these bicycles came from and without saying any certainty, obviously, there isn’t any proof at this point that it was something that was sponsored by a Russian government or an affiliated organization.

In a couple of other places this has taken place as well, most notably, Finland. Migration manipulation—it is another one of the tools of new information warfare being used to further the objectives of the Russia government. The element that we are looking at here is plausible deniability. If no one can say for sure that the Russian government did it that leaves the open question: who did it? It also leaves the question why it was done? Kilcullen had a theory on that as well. He said that he believes that it is being done: to overwhelm the bandwidth of those nations where the Russians have meddled, making them unable to respond to certain elements of Russian aggression. It’s not a bullet or a bomb. It’s not kinetic. It’s different. Information is what it is. Or, it is some kind of unusual scenario where any one does not have what it needs to respond. It hasn’t studied, it hasn’t practiced, it hasn’t perfected what is necessary to push back this kind of aggression. According to Kilcullen, it is indeed aggression. As Russia seeks to buy time, he believes what they hope they can do is to engage in some other places while the U.S. is focused on this situation coming together and embracing the new government and essentially getting focused on what it needs to do.

As Russia is losing its traditional grip on Cuba and it needs a place where it can project its power in the Western Hemisphere. It is no wonder then that Kilcullen suggests we should be looking very carefully at Venezuela. Venezuela is extremely weak. Extremely economically depressed and very anti-U.S. at the moment. According to several sources, a number of staunchly anti-U.S. countries have active military forces in Venezuela, including North Korea. They have special operations forces in Venezuela at this point. Kilcullen pointed this out to say very simply, very clearly: Russia is not playing the game that it ‘used to play’ and that the U.S. needs to take a different look and approach at what it taking place and do some dot connection. Again, however, overwhelming an adversary with chaos or scenarios will distract them. Distraction and deception operations are nothing new when it comes to Russia, but this may be a new version of one. And, lastly, there is a Russian connection, according to these sources that I have spoken to, between where Edward Snowden ended up after leaking U.S. documents and information. Before the WikiLeaks dump of documents and emails related to the DNC, several news organizations reported that someone who called himself “Guccifer 2.0” who investigators now believe was an agent of the Russian GRU (Military Intelligence), who got ahold of these documents. There is quite a bit of activity going on that seems to have a very anti-U.S. and anti-West theme to it. But the difficulty is placing absolute blame on Russia, or anyone else.

According to Tretitov, according to Kilcullen, and according to the counter-intelligence source that I have been talking to, and numerous others in European countries that I have been talking to, this is a part of the strategy to make it such that Russia cannot be blamed—publicly anyway—even though our intelligence agencies know it’s the Russians. They leave calling cards all the time. Situations back during the summer or earlier this year where U.S. diplomats were hacked or seized, or, in one particular case an individual’s arm was broken, a calling card was left. It was very clear to the folks in the intelligence community who did it. Apartments ransacked, essentially breaking and entering secretly and it is all about sending messages to the U.S. and to the West.

In summation, what I have discovered is not earth shattering. It’s a developing by a degree regarding what Russia has been involved in for a long time and something that they started years ago. It is not a new thing and we as a country need to pay very close attention to it.

Again, what I have been talking about today are the observations that I have made from conversations and from reporting and research dating back a good long time, but certainly, more importantly some revelations and understandings about what has taken place in the last year as far as Russia’s view of the U.S. is concerned.

In conclusion, change is necessary for the survival of every individual, culture, nation, and organization. Technology has undoubtedly created both positive and negative avenues for that change and various consequences as well. The increase in speed in world events driven by technological advances in communications has ushered in an era of unprecedented economic competition, political instability,
security concerns, population migration, and human transformation. Events that took long periods of time in the past can now happen in mere seconds. Triggering catastrophic outcomes, thus the need to prepare for tomorrow today is the key thing that’s emerged from all of the discussions and conversations and engagements that I have had with all of the sources that I have spoken to about this.

A growing list of top-notch U.S. intelligence officials all agree—Russia is involved in something that is designed to hurt the U.S. one way or another. When it happens, how it happens, where it happens—it’s not etched in stone—they are doing it in a way in which they can leave it loose. They are doing it in a way in which they can activate certain elements of it; use the elements that work for them and discard those that don’t. But I will say this, looking at Syria, what is taking place in Aleppo now, looking at Venezuela, what is taking place in Venezuela now, looking at what took place in Moldova, what happened in Lithuania what’s happened in Bulgaria, what’s happened in Ukraine, and Georgia, there is irrefutable evidence that the Russian government is up to something. The key is figuring it out, and deciding what to do on what terms and when.



She particularly enjoyed the way that he illuminated the theory of each topic by providing compelling historical examples together with his own personal experience and insights from his illustrious career in the National Security field.

“During the Bosnian wars, Dr. Meyer was The Deputy Chief of the CIA Taskforce in the Balkans. That’s the level of real-world experience that our professors have. We are taught and mentored in classes of around 7 students by faculty of that caliber.  It makes for a phenomenal experience, probably unique to our school, I would venture to say.”

Anna also talks excitedly about Professor James Anibal’s exceptional teaching style where students engage in multiple thought-provoking exercises, including some where they try to build and break deception types, guided by Anibal’s own extensive experience in the field.

“Learning by completing these exercises really cements the theories in our minds. These classes are invaluable to any student interested in the topic and will – without a doubt – make us much better practitioners ourselves.”

Anna also enthuses about the significant potential of the DMGS’ student body, where she has found lifelong friends who share her passion as well as her determination to become a leader in the National Security and Intelligence communities. A testament to her care and pride for her fellow students, Anna takes an active role in DMGS’ Student Government Association, where she has served as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-President and President.

“I can truly say that I am frequently inspired by the students of DMGS because of their constant drive to do more, achieve more, and learn as much as they can. I, myself, learn something from my fellow students every day.”

Anna is especially appreciative of the external experiences DMGS has made possible for her, including representing the school at the 2017 Women in National Security Conference and competing in the 2017 Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Competition. However, perhaps the most memorable opportunity afforded to her by Daniel Morgan was the chance to participate in the Oxford Analytica Global Horizons Conference in Oxford, England, in both 2017 and 2018. It is precisely through such enrichment provided by DMGS that Anna has been able to travel outside the United States for the first time in her life. Wide-eyed, she describes how exploring the campus and halls of the prestigious Christ Church College at Oxford University was a surreal experience for her, as she and her fellow DMGS students were able attend seminars, panels, and plenaries with experts from all over the world. She emphasizes how this experience effectively gave her a chance to expand her knowledge, her worldview, and her overall understanding of the importance of National Security and Intelligence studies at a global level. A lasting memory of this extraordinary opportunity was of the conference black-tie gala at Blenheim Palace, the familial home of Winston Churchill.

“The memory that will forever stand out to me is walking up the Palace stairs in a ball-gown on what was my third day ever in another country. It was truly magical!”

Finally, Anna sums up her experience at the school by crediting DMGS with advancing her career through networking opportunities where she was able to meet career professionals in the National Security and Intelligence communities that she would have never been able to meet otherwise. She is particularly grateful for the faculty who took the time to help her discover her passion so she could determine her career path and who have guided and opened doors for her.

“The school really invests in its students not just through education, but through external experiences as well, and that investment really pays off for us when it comes to establishing our careers. When deciding upon a graduate school, DMGS was my choice without hesitation and I would make the same decision again every time.”

Kenneth’s Story

His artistic talent earned him a place at the Art Institute of Boston, majoring in illustration.  However, Kenneth left after a year because he was disappointed with the course content and did not want to waste his time on a course that did not fulfill him or develop his talents and aspirations.  After some self-reflection, deliberation and research, he eventually decided to go to CUNY to study business and entrepreneurship to learn how to turn his artistic skills into “a business not a just passion.”

Upon graduation from the CUNY program, he took a break for a year to evaluate his next step.  He experimented and explored different areas, starting a number of innovative art ventures and productions.  He also took hospitality jobs to help finance his ventures.  Yet Kenneth still felt as though he were missing something and, while he was contemplating joining the Peace Corps, his mentor advised him to look at DMGS.

He is well aware that many may not immediately make the connection between the study of Intelligence in conjunction with Business Entrepreneurship or Art.  Consequently, Kenneth goes on to explain that there are many areas in the private sector that require intelligence skills, describing it as an underserved field that is wide open for graduates.  As time has progressed, Kenneth’s eyes have increasingly been opened to the niche positioning that a Master’s in Intelligence could bring to him to make him highly marketable in his fields of interest.

“I realized that being adept at intelligence-gathering in Business Arts and Media would be a specialized niche.  I wouldn’t have to start my own business but instead would instantly have differentiated value upon graduation.”

To explain this further, Kenneth describes how intelligence is a key factor in making effective market and business decisions since being competitive requires knowing what competitors are doing in the marketplace.  Even coming up with the title to a song can be amplified by intelligence gathering techniques as that information strengthens all strategic decision-making.

‘The Fundamentals of Intelligence course really taught me how to gather human intelligence – not just as it applies to spies – but to effectively make “informed decisions” using competitive intelligence.  I learned how to craft a market analysis through public information.  Knowing where to look and how to search things out it essential in all areas of business.”

Kenneth then turns to the subject of his professors.  Like all the other students at DMGS, Kenneth cannot help but comment on how exceptional members of DMGS’ faculty are.  In his opinion,, compared to other professors who “speak much but say little,” DMGS’ professors really deliver what he calls “the bottom line of knowledge in their subjects,” adding that there is “no fluff or wordiness” as they simply and clearly present relevant information in a succinct and pertinent form.

“They have years of experience and can therefore distill down what really matters in a real work setting. They then communicate the essence of each topic in a way that sticks with the student. Educators like this are few and far between.  It is amazing to be in such small classes with such great professors.”

At DMGS, one can’t help but feel the warmth and camaraderie amongst the students.  This is something that Kenneth clearly feels very deeply himself. 

“I also admire my fellow students who have all done such amazing things before coming here.  They inspire me to up my game and it humbles me to break bread and to study alongside people who have experienced even greater challenges than I and who ensure that I always keep an open mind.”

Pressed for an example of this, Kenneth talks about a couple of his fellow students: one who is a Kurd from Iran and one from Georgia who has lived in the shadow of the Soviet Union.

Before ending the discussion, Kenneth says that he must also stress two other things: DMGS’ speaker series and the school’s founder, Abby Moffat. The events, he says, have been hugely important to the learning environment because they reinforce what students are taught in the classroom and they also provide great networking opportunities, as students have the chance to engage with a number of prominent people in their fields of interest.

In describing Abby Moffat, he recounts how much she adds to the positive culture of DMGS.  Kenneth also mentions that Abby has been particularly inspiring and encouraging to him on a personal level and that has made a big difference in his life.

“Abby Moffat brings a nurturing and compassionate entrepreneur spirit to the school.  Her strength, kindness and insights drive the organization, just as my grandmothers’ strengths and courage drove the successes within my own family.”

Margalita’s Story

“I quit my job and embarked upon my second Master’s degree at DMGS because I realized that program would benefit me a great deal. I would not have left my job if I hadn’t anticipated this and I wasn’t disappointed. It was one of the best decisions that I have ever made as it has now led me to even higher paths.”

Nor was leaving her job an easy decision.  Before DMGS, Margalita had been working for the UN and EU.  She grew up in Tbilisi during the civil war and learned to count from the traces of the bullet holes against a building wall. Coming face to face with war at such a young age affected her career choices in later life and motivated her into positions where she would help people affected by conflict.  Specifically, she worked on projects that supported the Prime Minister’s office in her native country of Georgia. She worked in a new agency commission on a National Action Plan implementing the UN Security Council’s Resolution on Women, Peace and Security. Her assignment was to identify the needs of conflict-affected women and girls.  Together with the UN Women’s Mission as well as several government officials and advisors on human rights, Margalita travelled to villages along the Administrative Boundary Lines. Her mission was to identify the needs of these women and girls and to translate their aggregate problems into policy to support Georgia’s Three – year UN Action Plan.  Margalita then went on to assist in building the necessary capacity to support the implementation of these policies and solutions under the European Union Project.

Margalita says that what drew her to DMGS and what ultimately drove her to take the significant step of leaving her UN position was the quality of the faculty at the school.

“It’s not the name or the history of a school that matters, it’s the professors.”

She is now very glad that she took the steps that she took in coming to DMGS. One of the professors she enthuses over is David Kanin whom she describes as “one of the most educated professors in the universe” and whose classes she describes “are like paradise.”  In fact, Margalita is extremely enthusiastic about all of her professors whom she collectively describes as not just as compelling academicians but as extraordinary individuals.

“Even the five-minute interactions during the class breaks is something that we all look forward to.”

The extent of her satisfaction with the teaching at DMGS has been so great that she insists that the quality benchmark for lectures and discussions is now much higher than previously experienced and that she and her fellow students have consequently become “professor and lecture snobs.”

“We now all see how much others miss out on in traditional classes.  We have never experienced and probably will never experience this type and level of teaching again.”

Another important facet of DMGS is the free-thinking aspect that underpins its pedagogic approach as the professors encourage their students to question everything rather than blindly following one school of thought. This is an approach which Margalita describes as “unique in today’s world that is oversaturated by opinion.”

“The minute you create an environment when you shut each other down, the learning ends.  DMGS clearly understands this and opens up the learning environment to embrace all ideas.”

This openness to multiple viewpoints also extends to multiple cultures.  By opening up its programs to those from other countries who seek to make the world a better and safer place, DMGS creates a dynamic and exciting learning environment.  Margalita is also very enthusiastic about this and about the impact it has on the school’s environment.

“It’s a real privilege to be in the class with people from so many different backgrounds.  It adds to our discussions in an amazing way.”

Finally, Margalita is also extremely enthusiastic about DMGS’ location and networking opportunities.“Being in D.C., magic happens outside the classroom.  We meet the people that we only read about previously. We effectively meet history here.”


Upon her return to the United States, Shannon completed her undergraduate degree in her areas of true passion and was later accepted to continue her graduate studies at University of Glasgow.  However, after one semester there, Shannon came to the realization that the program was not a good fit for her due to its intensely theoretical approach. Having been at the forefront of action rather than deliberation, Shannon found a theoretical program to be too confining for her needs and aspirations.  Luckily, one of her professors at the university was Peter Jackson, a renowned editor of multiple major intelligence publications. Immediately understanding the frustrations of a student who had already experienced so much and wanted to do much more, hee advised her,

“If you are looking for something practical, there is a new, specialized school in Washington D.C. and everyone there has a fundamentally practical approach to graduate studies. I think that it would be a perfect fit and would get you where you want to go.”

Having taken his sage advice, Shannon is now at DMGS in her second semester and says that she is loving the experience.  She goes on to say that Daniel Morgan has certainly lived up to the practical teaching and experience that she was looking for.

“When you are uninformed or ill-advised you blindly pick a school for the name without really understanding the importance of the professors who will teach you.  That is a big mistake.  Anybody looking at the bios of DMGS’ professors can see that this is THE place to be if you want to go into National Security”.

To illustrate her point, Shannon talks about one of the first professors she had at DMGS, a former diplomat who worked on the 911 commission and was, therefore, able to give her and her fellow students an inside perspective on actual events that others merely read as history.

Describing one of the biggest differences she is experiencing at Daniel Morgan compared to what she had encountered in higher education thus far, Shannon points to the exceptionally small class sizes:

“I don’t think other graduate students experience the personalized attention we get at DMGS. Each student  gets immediate direction and mentorship; at most graduate schools a student would wait 3 weeks to get a paper back and then would have to make an office appointment 2 weeks after that for in-person guidance . Not here.”

Shannon also enthuses over the extraordinary opportunities that she has been given at DMGS.  Thanks to a trip sponsored by the school, where she went on a week-long security summit just outside Prague, she was introduced to the UN NATO program (Youth Atlantic Treaty Association) and is now a UN Youth Ambassador. This means that, once per month, Shannon attends international conferences around the world.  Shannon is, not only delighted to be a part of this, but is also very grateful for the way her professors at DMGS are so accommodating and encouraging to her in these endeavors.

Another significant advantage of being a DMGS student is the flexibility of having classes scheduled in the evening. Shannon is particularly appreciative of this since it has allowed her to obtain the best internships as well as to get the best out of her internships:

“I am able to work and come to class in the evenings.  Other interns consistently have to leave and come back to work to attend classes during the day.  As a result of DMGS’ class schedule I get better training than the other interns and it makes it easier for me to apply for jobs without class times getting in the way.”

Shannon believes that these factors all play into the reason DMGS graduates get such wonderful career positions upon graduation.

“I couldn’t believe some of the places that DMGS students have gone.  A number of my fellow students have gotten jobs with the top contractors in National Security and one even just got a job at the White House.”

Shannon points out that this is a testament to how good the education and opportunities are at Daniel Morgan. She points out that top firms want DMGS graduates because they are extremely well-prepared, noting that high profile firms are keen to hire DMGS graduates even before the school has obtained the full accreditation status which is expected next year.

Shannon ends her story with a summary of her enthusiasm about the Daniel Morgan School:

“DMGS has been a perfect fit for me. I can’t even describe how wonderful this place is. Everyone is so kind and so intelligent and so well-connected. There is not a better school especially for anyone who has an interest in National Security.  As the school is young, it is like a best kept secret …but it probably won’t be a secret for long.”


Tomasz is now at The Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security where he hopes to get an American perspective on issues related to Russian and global security. As he is obviously already extremely well-versed in this area, Tomasz sought out a program with the utmost authority and credibility to augment his own well-established base in the field.  Tomasz found that level of authority when he came across current Daniel Morgan – and former Harvard professor, Yuval Weber’s biography.  Seeing Dr. Weber’s well-documented expertise, Tomasz said that he “realized that DMGS was the right place to be.”

Now that he attends Daniel Morgan, he says that he is even more certain of the fact that DMGS was the place where true expertise in the field resided.  In addition to the formidable intellect of Dr. Weber, Tomasz has also been struck by the depth of national and international expertise that resides within the DMGS faculty as a whole.  In his own area of expertise, he has further been engaged by the extensive knowledge and insights of incoming professor, Dr. Edward Lemon, formerly a professor at Columbia University and now a DMGS-Kennan Institute Fellow. Dr. Lemon is a global authority on Eurasia. Talking enthusiastically about his experience at DMGS, Tomasz notes:

“It gives me a different angle and a truly global perspective in my chosen field which is particularly fascinating. These extremely erudite professors and stimulating courses have really shed light in several areas and have helped to unfasten the complex international geopolitical knot.”

Another reason Tomasz was drawn to The Daniel Morgan Graduate School was the possibility to be in the center of Washington D.C. amidst the hub of prestigious think tanks and media outlets with whom he had hoped to make connections. Tomasz says that his actual experience has greatly exceeded his expectations, as DMGS has given him significant access and entrees to several key organizations through its prestigious partners and events.

“It’s so easy to have extraordinary networking opportunities here at DMGS. Many doors have been opened for me and I have already been connected to many people and organizations that I would not have even dared to imagine.”

Gilbert’s Story

He says that his experience at the school has gone well above his already high expectations, going so far as to add that it has completely changed his perspective in multiple areas that he had previously viewed through a more narrow contextual lens.  He is currently enrolled in the National Security M.A. program, with a specialization in International Relations.

“This gives me a special perspective and understanding of security across the globe.  I increasingly understand the importance of studying security issues with a global backdrop since the impact of the National Security is not isolated.  It is intertwined because of the interconnectedness of the modern world.”

To achieve his specific career and learning objectives and work within the confines of his prominent career,, Gilbert is obliged and has been approved to take an accelerated track that would enable him to complete this in only 15 months.

 “The deans and professors at Daniel Morgan have been incredibly supportive in working with me to make the adjustments that I need to achieve my career objectives while meeting all the necessary academic milestones.  They don’t put up roadblocks.  They look for the solutions to the roadblocks.”

Gilbert is also impressed with DMGS’ personalized approach at the instructional level.  He notes that the small classes result in everyone having a chance to express themselves and to better engage with the material being covered.  He also explains how DMGS’ professors have a fascinating way of leading and guiding the class through their subjects, while deftly merging students’ international perspectives into the discussion.

“At this school, different skills and cultures come together in a very special way that enhances the learning experience for every one of us.”