Mr. Mike Garrison became Acting Director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) in September, 2012, after 28 years of active duty in the U.S. Army and more than a decade of leadership in African political and military affairs.
Prior to assuming his current role, Mr. Garrison was Deputy Director of the Africa Center, serving as its chief operating officer and principle advisor to the Director for strategic planning, policy analysis and the development and execution of Africa Center programs to support the United States security policy goals within Africa.
A former African Foreign Area Officer and aviator with over 2800 rotary and fixed-wing flight hours, Mr. Garrison has held several Army and Joint command and staff positions in Germany, Africa, the Middle East and the United States. Immediately prior to his retirement as an Army Colonel, he served as the Regional Director for Southern Africa in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for African Affairs. There he managed all aspects of bilateral and multilateral defense strategy and policy development for the nine southern most African countries on the continent.
Mr. Garrison’s other African political/military assignments include commanding the Multinational Force and Observers Aviation Unit in Sinai Egypt, Political/Military Affairs Officer (southern Africa), J5 Plans, U.S. European Command, Defense and Army Attaché to the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of South Africa, and the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland; and Defense Liaison Officer in Khartoum, Sudan.
He is the recipient of numerous Department of Defense awards and decorations including the Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification badge and the U.S. Army Master Aviator badge.
Mr. Garrison holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University; a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; and a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. He is an alumnus of the U.S. Army War College and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, an Honor Graduate of the U.S. Army Rotary Wing Aviator Qualification Course, and a Distinguished Graduate from the U.S. Army Armor Officers Basic Course.
Areas of Expertise
Political-military affairs for Southern and Eastern Africa, Aviation Security, Department of Defense and U.S. Embassy Country Team operations, Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance Program (ACOTA), U.S. Security Assistance programming
Dr. Raymond Gilpin is the Academic Dean at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. In this capacity he directs the design, development and implementation of the Center’s programs, and provides leadership on all academic matters. Prior to joining the Africa Center he served as director of the Center for Sustainable Economies at the United States Institute of Peace (in which capacity he also chaired the taskforce on business and peace, managed the web-based International Network for Economics and Conflict, and taught courses on economics and conflict at the USIP Academy); academic chair for defense economics at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies; director for international programs at Intellibridge Corporation (now part of Eurasia Group); senior economist at the African Development Bank Group; research director at the Central Bank of Sierra Leone; and economist at the World Bank.
His research interests include Africa’s security challenges, energy and security, resource management and conflict dynamics, financial management in Africa’s security sector, and public-private partnerships and peace. Dr. Gilpin is a regular blogger and featured media commentator on African affairs, US-Africa policy, energy and security, and economic dimensions of peace. Recent publications include: “Economic Drivers of Conflict,” in Conflict Management and Global Governance in an Age of Awakening, edited by Pamela Aall, Chester Crocker and Fen Hampson (forthcoming 2013); “Tackling Energy Infrastructure Vulnerability in Violence-Prone Zones” (2013); “Using Entrepreneurship to Promote Stability in Fragile Regions” (2012); “Trade and Resource Management: A Development Perspective,” in Nexus Between Security and Development, edited by Joanna Spear and Paul Williams, (2012); “China in Africa,” in African Security and the African Command: Viewpoints on the US Role in Africa, edited by Terry Buss, Joseph Adjaye, Donald Goldstein and Louis Picard (2011).
Dr. Gilpin holds a doctorate in development economics from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and an executive certificate in international finance and capital markets from Georgetown University.
David Brown is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and joined the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) as Diplomatic Advisor in August 2011. His prior Africa experience includes serving as the Senior Advisor to the J-5 (Strategy, Plans, and Programs) Director of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Stuttgart (Germany); three times as Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassies in Cotonou (Benin), Nouakchott (Mauritania), and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso); and as Economic Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Mr. Brown’s non-Africa overseas tours have been as Consul General in Chengdu (China), and Economic Officer in Beijing, Tokyo, and Moscow. He has also served in Washington as the Director of the Office of Environmental Policy; as Economic Officer in the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs (EEB) responsible for trade policy with developing countries, including Africa; and on the Canada Desk with responsibilities for economic, consular, and law enforcement issues.
Mr. Brown has won several State Department individual and group Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, and received the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) Sinclaire Language Award for Chinese and Japanese. His other foreign languages are French, Spanish, and Russian.
Prior to joining the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Brown worked in Miami as Business Manager of the Latin American Bureau of CBS News.
Mr. Brown has a Bachelor of Arts in Government (Political Science) from Cornell University, where he graduated with honors. He also has two Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) from the University of Chicago (specialization in finance) and the University of Louvain, Belgium (majors in econometrics and international business).
He is married and has two sons. He enjoys swimming, jogging, and tennis.
Regional Program Manager – East Africa Regional Office
Mr. Bradley G. Anderson, Colonel U.S. Army (ret.), assumed his duties as the Regional Program Manager of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies East Africa Regional Office in June 2010. He brings some 30 years of management, policy development, peacekeeping and operations experience including over a decade of uninterrupted African political and military affairs experience to his new position as a senior member of the Africa Center’s leadership team. Mr. Anderson currently leads the East Africa Regional Office which is located at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The office team, along with the Center, strives to bring leaders together to create and maintain a global network of professionals with a shared commitment to addressing security-related challenges in Africa. The team also provides operational support for various topical programs held across the continent that allow participants to examine complex issues and seek African solutions.
Prior to his retirement, he served as a Defense and Army Attaché for Ethiopia and Djibouti (non-resident) as well as multiple tours in both Tunisia and Morocco. Mr. Anderson has earned some 27 awards and decorations to include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 OLC), Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Services Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with 3 OLC), Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for service in the 38th ADA Brigade in Korea, Air Assault badge, Honorable Order of Saint Barbara, twice being presented the US State Department Meritorious Honor Award, and various other service and foreign awards. This includes being the only US Defense Attaché to Tunis to be awarded the Chevalier de l’ordre du la Republique by the Tunisian President.
Mr. Anderson holds a Bachelor’s degree from Upper Iowa University in History, along with a Masters Degrees in Political Science from the University of Iowa (with Thesis), and Wesbster’s in Business Administration. Mr. Anderson is also a graduate of the Air Defense Artillery Officer’s Basic and Advance Courses, I-HAWK Transition Course, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Foreign Area Officer Course at Fort Bragg North Carolina, Defense Language Institute Monterey California (French), CAS3, Command and General Staff College, and the Joint Military Attaché School.
Regional Program Manager – Regional Office West Africa (ROWA)
Mr. Gerald Lefler assumed his duties as the Regional Program Manager for the Regional Office West Africa in August 2012. He brings 27 years of leadership and management experience, 14 of which have been performed in overseas assignments. For the past 7 years he has been working Department of State and Department of Defense programs throughout Africa, primarily teaching or facilitating professional education and training programs with African militaries. Located in Dakar, Senegal, the ROWA team, in support of the ACSS mission, promotes continued alumni involvement and interaction, partners with various ministries, agencies, and organizations across the sub-region to examine relevant security topics, and provides operational support to Africa Center programs and events hosted in West Africa.
Prior to joining the ACSS team, Mr. Lefler was the Program Manager for the USEUCOM/USAFRICOM Regional Joint Intelligence Training Facility (RJITF) in Molesworth, UK. His program provided the curriculum development, instruction, and training administration for US military and civilian professional courses as well as partner nation engagement programs throughout Africa and Europe. During his more than 4 years at the RJITF, programs that he helped develop, taught, and managed were hosted in 12 different African nations and touched regional and bilateral student audiences from 23 African nations. Before the RJITF, Mr. Lefler was an instructor with the African Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) program where he trained staff members of national armed forces in preparation for deployment on peacekeeping operations on the continent.
Mr. Lefler served 20 years as a US Naval Officer, retiring in 2005. He served at sea on three destroyers and an aircraft carrier in posts as a Division Officer, Department Head and Executive Officer. His shore tours included assignments as Exchange Professor to the French Naval Academy, Staff Officer (Plans) on the NATO maritime staff in Northwood, UK, and NATO Liaison Officer to the French Navy in the Mediterranean. He was one of the first designated US Navy Foreign Area Officers (FAO).
He holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Idaho in Applied Mathematics/Computer Science and a Masters degree from Salve Regina University in Management. He is also a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, the Defense Language Institute (French), as well as various other professional and technical service schools.
Senior French Representative
Colonel Patrick de Vathaire became the Senior French Representative at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in August 2011. Following his graduation from the “Officer Candidate School”, promotion of 1983, Colonel de Vathaire joined the « Troupes de Marine ». He subsequently gained an impressive depth of operational knowledge of Africa during his numerous visits to the Continent. In addition to participating in operations in Chad, the Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Gabon and Togo, he has also spent time at the heart of various African armed forces as both an instructor and military advisor. He commanded the 43rd Infantry Battalion from 2005 until 2006, based in the Ivory Coast. In between his African commitments, Colonel de Vathaire also served in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was the Operations Officer for the French Army Special Forces Regiment. Following 18 months at the Army War College and the Joint Advanced Staff College, he was firstly posted to the Joint Staff as Chief J3 Land from 2003 – 2005 then again as Chief J5 Africa in the Joint Operational Planning Centre (Centre de Planification et Conduite des Opérations) from 2008 to 2011. It is in this last role where his African expertise has come to the fore: he has been responsible for the strategic oversight and anticipation of potential crisis within Sub-Saharan Africa. He has had oversight of the French participation in the European EUFOR mission, the deployment of the UN mission to Chad, the crisis in the Ivory Coast, piracy off the Somalia coast and he has been actively involved in the study to reshape French participation in Africa.
He holds the rank of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, is an officer of the National Order of Merit, holds “la croix de la valeur militaire” with 2 stars and is an Officer of the Rwandan National Order of Peace.
Senior Portuguese Representative
Dr. Miguel Ferreira da Silva became the Senior Portuguese Representative at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in March 2012. Following his graduation in Law from the University of Lisbon he completed post graduate studies in Juridical-Political Sciences, at the same University, and in Political Science and International Relations at the Portuguese Catholic University. He also holds specializations in Security and Intelligence, as in Terrorism.
After developing a career in Legal Advising to the Public Sector, both at local and national levels, Miguel returned to academia where he taught Portuguese language and culture at the University of Nottingham, where he also completed his PhD. in cultural studies (legitimacy discourse of international criminal courts).
Still a Senior Legal Advisor with the Portuguese Media Authority, he also became an advisor to the Portuguese Government, particularly in matters related to Africa.
His main research interests are linked to Democracy, the rule of law, freedom of the press and post conflict cultures. Miguel is also a member of the International Consortium for the Study of Post Conflict Cultures. Born in Porto, Portugal, he fluently speaks Portuguese, English and Spanish, he also speaks French.
Professor of Practice
Director – Communications and Community Affairs
Brad Minnick comes to the Africa Center from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where he was project director for the Center’s Public Diplomacy initiative. He is an internationally recognized management and communications advisor and principal at HKS Global, a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm.
Brad is a former Director of the Office of International Visitors at the U.S. Department of State and served five years as Chief Executive Officer of the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL), a non-partisan international exchange organization with programs around the world.
As a former managing director for Weber Shandwick Worldwide, one of the world’s largest public relations firms, he has trained government officials, NGO leaders, political activists and businesspersons around the globe in management and communications strategy and tactics. A former advisor to the United Nations Development Programme and the Parliament and Government of Romania, he has lectured extensively on political communication and democratic development, led seminars on communications and policy issues at Harvard University and participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Earlier in his career Brad served as a congressional press secretary, national political party communications advisor and local television political commentator. He was Deputy Chief Secretary to the Governor of Massachusetts and Vice President of the Massachusetts International Trade Council. He has traveled extensively throughout the world.
Brad holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School and a BA in Political Science from American University in Washington, D.C.
Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
Mr. Kareem I. Oweiss is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). In this capacity, he manages and develops policy and overall guidelines affecting operational functions of the Africa Center. He provides executive and management control over future and current program planning, operations, logistics, security, and information technology in support of ACSS programs and the quality of services and products provided for staff, faculty, and participants.
Prior to assuming his current duties, Mr. Oweiss was the Program Specialist of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) Regional Office for West Africa, located in Dakar, Senegal. As the deputy head of office, he provided management support for all operations of the regional office and coordinated Africa Center programs and activities throughout West Africa. He spearheaded numerous regional office initiatives with the Regional Program Manager on such topics as transnational organized crime and countering violent extremism. Over the a span of 10 years with the Africa Center, including positions as Protocol Advisor and as Operations Specialist, he has supported a vast array major Africa Center programs on and off the African continent.
Mr. Oweiss’ previous experience living and working on the African continent was as the Programme Officer for the Aid Coordination Unit with the United Nations Development Programme in Kigali, Rwanda, seconded to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. From over two years, he supported the Government of Rwanda’s efforts to bolster country ownership of development programs, and enhance coordination and harmonization between bilateral & multilateral donors, international and national NGOs, and the private sector. A significant part of his responsibilities included professionalization of the Development Partners Coordination Group, and planning oversight for annual Development Partners Meetings and the Sixth Africa Governance Forum.
Mr. Oweiss holds a Master of Science in Poverty Reduction and Development Management from the University of Birmingham in the UK, and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service with a certificate in African Studies from Georgetown University.
Chief of Staff
Colonel Saul Bracero received his commission as a Military Police second lieutenant in 1987 upon graduating from Brigham Young University as a Distinguished Military Graduate. His first operational assignment was to the 385th Military Police Battalion, 14th Military Police Brigade in Kornwestheim, Germany. He served as platoon leader, battalion training officer, and battalion adjutant.
Serving in a wide variety of Military Police command and staff positions at company and brigade—Colonel Bracero commanded the 170th Military Police Company, 504th Military Police Battalion, Fort Lewis, Washington. During his command tour, Colonel Bracero deployed his company in 1994 to Panama City, Panama, in support of Operation Safe Haven—Cuban migrant crisis. His company was responsible for quick reaction force operations during six camp riots.
His key staff assignments include service at the national, combatant command, Army Forces, and tactical levels. He served as Army Forces Assistant Operations Officer at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, providing camp security and operations for ten thousand Haitian migrants. Following this assignment he was hand selected to capture lessons learned for the U.S. Army—culminating in the development of the first doctrinal publication on force protection.
Colonel Bracero is a Sub-Saharan African Foreign Area Officer. He has served in various positions with the Department of Defense with increasing levels of responsibility. His first Africa assignment was to the U.S. embassy in Cameroon. There he assisted the Defense Attaché with Mil-to-Mil relations, visiting U.S. Delegation, and humanitarian projects. He later served at the European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany as the security assistance program manager for West and Central Africa. Upon returning to the U.S., Colonel Bracero was assigned to the Joint Staff J2 as a Branch Chief overseeing the daily production of Africa intelligence products for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, daily intelligence update. He was later assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency as the Division Chief overseeing all Africa strategic intelligence products for national and defense senior leaders. Colonel Bracero later served as the Central and East Africa Regional Director, International Security Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense working critical national policy issues on Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Lord Resistance Army, and Ethiopia, as well as terrorism issues in Somalia.
Colonel Bracero currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C.
He has earned a Bachelor of Arts from Brigham Young University in 1987, a Master of Arts and an African Studies Certificate from the University of Florida in 1997. He is also a graduate of the National War College, Joint Forces Staff College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and Military Police Officer Advance and Basic Courses.
Colonel Bracero and his wife, Maarja, have two children who reside in Stafford, Virginia.
Deputy Director of Communications and Community Affairs
Vince Crawley joined the Africa Center in March 2012 and has spent much of his career explaining the United States – both its government and its people – to U.S. and international publics. From July 2007 to March 2012, he served in Stuttgart, Germany, as Deputy Director of Public Affairs for U.S. Africa Command, where he focused on providing accurate public information on the activities of the U.S. military in Africa, as well as the role of the Defense Department in support of U.S. foreign policy. From October 2005 to July 2007, he served as a public diplomacy writer for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs in Washington, D.C., covering European affairs and international security.
Before joining federal service in 2005, Mr. Crawley spent nearly two decades as a journalist specializing in the link between military affairs and diplomacy. From January 2000 to October 2005, he served as senior Pentagon reporter for Gannett’s Army Times newspapers, where he was a front-row journalist at Defense Department news briefings and provided extensive Washington, D.C., coverage of U.S. government decision-making related to military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 1999 and early 2000, he was the aviation reporter for Defense Week, a watchdog publication that critically scrutinized the multi-billion-dollar annual Defense Department budget process.
Living more than a decade in Europe from 1988 to 1999 while working for The Stars and Stripes daily newspaper, he filed thousands of stories and photographs from more than 40 countries and spent months reporting from the field during the Balkans peace missions, as well as regularly attending NATO meetings. In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he accompanied the first U.S. ground troops to fight Iraq’s Republican Guard. From mid-1989, he reported extensively on developments in Germany and Eastern Europe that led to the opening of the Berlin Wall. Mr. Crawley’s Africa reporting included two visits to Somalia, including the aftermath of the 1993 battle of Mogadishu, where he reported from the wreckage site of two downed American helicopters and co-wrote the first story about foreign fighters, later known as al-Qaida, in the Horn of Africa. In 1994, Mr. Crawley reported from Goma in the former Zaire on the refugee crisis following the Rwandan genocide. In 1997, he reported from Senegal and Uganda on the beginning of a U.S.-African peacekeeper training partnership that has since led to the training of nearly 200,000 African personnel for peacekeeping duties.
Originally from Logansport, Indiana, Mr. Crawley was a U.S. Army journalist from 1981-88, reaching the rank of sergeant and serving on parachute duty with the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C. He and his journalist wife have two adult children and two school-aged children. They live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.