Advisory Board Bios – Patriot Foundation

board of advisors bios




General William F. “Buck” Kernan was born in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was commissioned in November 1968 from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Our Lady of the Lake University and a Master of Arts degree in personnel administration from Central Michigan University. His military education includes the Infantry Advanced Course, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.

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General Kernan’s initial assignment was as Liaison Officer with the 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Assigned to Vietnam in August 1969, he served with the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Battalion Reconnaissance Platoon Leader (Tiger Force), and Assistant S3. Following this assignment he returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and served as Company Commander, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 325th Infantry.

Upon completion of the Infantry Officer Advanced Course in March 1974, General Kernan was assigned to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command as an area commander in Austin, Texas. Joining the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington, in April 1976, he commanded two companies and was the assistant S3 before departing in July 1978 to attend the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In July 1979, he was assigned to the Military Personnel Center in Washington, D.C., initially to the DA Secretariat, and then to the Officer Personnel Management Directorate as an Infantry Branch Assignment Officer. In August 1981, he was selected to be the U.S. Exchange Officer representing the 82d Airborne Division to the British Parachute Regiment where he commanded Company C, 3 PARA, for two years.Upon his return from England in July 1983, General Kernan joined the 2d Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division,where he served as the executive officer and battalion commander. After completing the Army War College in July 1987, he assumed command of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. In December 1988, he assumed the duties as Deputy Commander, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia, and held that position until June 20, 1989, when he assumed command of the 75th Ranger Regiment. On December 20, 1989, he led the 75th Ranger Regiment in its combat parachute assault into Panama during Operation Just Cause. In September 1991, he was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division (Light), Fort Ord, California, where he served as the Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver). In July 1993, he was assigned as the Director of Plans, Policy, and Strategic Assessments, J5, United States Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. General Kernan commanded the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from February 1996 until February 1998 and assumed command of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg on March 12, 1998.


General Lance L. Smith served in the United States Military for 37 years and retired January 2008. Most recently he served as Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia. As Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, he was responsible for maximizing present and future military capabilities of the United States by leading the transformation of joint forces in the areas of joint training; joint interoperability; and joint innovation and experimentation.

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As Combatant Command Authority for Air Combat Command, Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Army Forces Command and Marine Forces Command, he held operational control over almost 1.19 million U.S. military forces in his role as the force provider to the other combatant commanders. As Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Smith led the transformation of NATO’s military structures, forces, capabilities and doctrines to improve interoperability and military effectiveness of the Alliance and its partner nations. He also led individual NATO training development and, in collaboration with Supreme Allied Commander Operations, executed training programs for Coalition forces deploying to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo.

A native of Virginia and a graduate of Virginia Tech, the general entered the Air Force in 1970 after completing Officer Training School. He has more than 13 years in command during war and peace. He commanded two fighter wings and led two air expeditionary force deployments to Southwest Asia: AEF III and the 4th Air Expeditionary Wing. He served as the Commander of 7th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces; Air Component Commander, ROK and U.S. Combined Forces Command Korea; and Deputy Commander U.S. Forces Korea. The general also served two tours at the Pentagon and was Commandant of the NATO School at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Commandant of the Air War College and Commander of the Air Force Doctrine Center. Prior to his current assignment, he was Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.


General Curtis M. Scaparrotti Former Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe U.S. Army General (Retired) Scaparrotti served as the Commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe from May, 2016 to May, 2019. He retired from the Army in May 2019.

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General Curtis M. Scaparrotti is a native of Logan, Ohio, graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, in 1978, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

A career infantry officer, General Scaparrotti was previously assigned as the Commander, United Nations Command / Combined Forces Command / United States Forces Korea. He also served as the Director, Joint Staff. Prior to his tour with the Joint Staff, General Scaparrotti served as Commander, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, the Commanding General of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division.

In addition, General Scaparrotti has served in key leadership positions at the tactical, operational, and strategic level of the United States military to include Director of Operations, United States Central Command and as the 69th Commandant of Cadets at the United States Military Academy. He has commanded forces during Operations IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM (Afghanistan), SUPPORT HOPE (Zaire/Rwanda), JOINT ENDEAVOR (Bosnia-Herzegovina), and ASSURED RESPONSE (Liberia).

His military education includes the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Command and General Staff College, and the United States Army War College. He holds a Master’s Degree in Administrative Education from the University of South Carolina.

His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and the Army Meritorious Service Medal. He has earned the Combat Action Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, and Ranger Tab.


General Dan Allyn culminated over 36 years of military service with duty as the 35th Vice Chief of Staff of the Army from 2014-2017.  He is a native of Berwick, Maine, and was commissioned a 2LT of Infantry in 1981 upon graduation from the United States Military Academy.

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He commanded at every level in our Army from platoon to MACOM level, including combat command at the platoon, company, Brigade Combat Team and Division level.  He began his career as a Platoon Leader in 2nd Battalion, 508th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division, and served two subsequent tours with the 82nd Airborne, culminating as Battalion Commander, 1-325th AIR.  Dan served three tours of duty with the 75th Ranger Regiment, including Company Commander, C/1-75 during Operation Just Cause in Panama and Battalion Commander of 3rd Ranger Battalion.  He led 3rd BCT, 3ID during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.  GEN Allyn served as Chief of Staff, Deputy Commanding General and Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps, including duty as the Chief of Staff, Multi-National Corps-Iraq in 2008-2009, and Deputy Commander of Operation Unified Response in Haiti. He commanded 1st Cavalry Division, including duty as CG, CJTF-1 in eastern Afghanistan from 2011-2012.  GEN Allyn’s final Army Command was with US Army Forces Command at Ft Bragg, NC.

GEN Allyn holds a Bachelor of Science degree from USMA, a Masters in National Security Studies from the Naval War College, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Methodist University.

Dan and Debbie are the blessed with two service-centered children, and an excitable and lovable Black Labrador.


Upon completion of the requirements for graduation in 1968, General McNeill was awarded a Bachelor of Science and a commission as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry from North Carolina State University and the University’s ROTC program. McNeill has served with Special Forces, airborne infantry, mechanized infantry and aviation units. As a general officer, McNeill has commanded the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, U.S. Army Forces Command as well as serving as an assistant division commander, corps chief of staff, deputy corps commander and Deputy Commander/Chief of Staff FORSCOM.

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In addition to a myriad of assignments to posts throughout the United States, McNeill has served overseas assignments in the Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Korea, Italy, Panama, Haiti, Saudi/Iraq and Afghanistan. In June, 2008, McNeill completed a final tour of 16 months in command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. McNeill retired on July 31, 2008, after completing more than 40 years of commissioned service.


SEAC Troxell began his military career in September of 1982 as an armored reconnaissance specialist.  He retired in 2020 and was a United States Army senior non-commissioned officer who served as the third Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[1] This position made him the most senior enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces.

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Troxell has served for over 37 years in numerous units. They include the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Bliss, Texas; 2 tours in Germany with the 3rd Armored Division, and the 3rd Infantry Division; 3 tours in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Campbell University Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Special Operation Division of Joint Task Force Six (Counterdrug) in El Paso, Texas. He has served as the command sergeant major of the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York and in Iraq; the regimental command sergeant major of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in both Fort Polk, Louisiana and Fort Lewis, Washington; the command sergeant major of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2d Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington and in Iraq; the 21st command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Armor Center and Fort Knox, Kentucky; the command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Accessions Command and Human Resource Center of Excellence at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the command sergeant major of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the command sergeant major of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan and the Command Senior Enlisted Leader of United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea. His official date of retirement was on March 31, 2020.

Troxell’s five combat tours of duty include making the combat parachute jump and service in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. His military education includes Ranger, Airborne, Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, PLDC, BNCOC, ANCOC, and the First Sergeant Course. He is a graduate of Class 51 of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Course and the Command Sergeants Major Course. Troxell is also a graduate of the National Defense University Keystone Joint Command Senior Enlisted Leader Course, the United States Army War College Strategic Leader Development Course and the Army Strategic Leader Development Course (Intermediate) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Troxell’s civilian education includes a Master’s degree in Business Administration from TUI University in California. He is a Centurion of the Order of Saint Maurice (National Infantry Association).

Troxell is a native of Iowa and currently resides in Washington state.


Lieutenant General John Randolph Vines is the former commander of the U.S. Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps and Multi-National Corps – Iraq.

Vines previously commanded the 82nd Airborne Division during the U.S. deployment to Afghanistan. He was responsible for tactical combat missions. Subsequently, Vines replaced Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill as the commanding general of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.  Vines received his BS Degree in Chemistry from the University of Alabama and his MA Degree in National Security and Strategy from the Naval War College.

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He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in 1971 through the ROTC program at the University of Alabama.

His previous assignments include the 3rd Infantry Division; U.S. Army Europe and Seventh U.S. Army; Ranger Department, US Army Infantry Center; Company Commander and S3 in the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment; and the original Executive Officer of the 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at its activation from 1984 until 1987.

As Lieutenant General, Vines has served in several command and staff assignments within the XVIII Airborne Corps to include joint duty with the Joint Special Operations Command. He served as Commander, 4th Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, during its combat parachute assault in Operation Just Cause and later when the unit was deployed as the first ground combat unit in Operation Desert Shield.

His second tour of joint duty with the Joint Special Operations Command included operations in Somalia; Commander, 2d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); Assistant Division Commander for Operations, 82d Airborne Division; Chief of Staff, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg; Chief of Office of Military Cooperations, Cairo, Egypt; Commander, 82d Airborne Division from August 2000 until October 2002; Commander, Coalition Task Force 82, in Afghanistan from 1 September 2002 until 1 May 2003; and then Commander, Combined/Joint Task Force-180, Bagram, Afghanistan, until October 2003; Commander, Multi-National Corps Iraq in Baghdad from January 2005 until January 2006.


Lieutenant General Mike Ferriter served 35 years in the U.S. Army commanding Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and International Forces at every level from a Second Lieutenant Infantry Platoon leader to the Commanding General of the Advising and Training Mission in Iraq. In his final Army position, LTG Ferriter was the Commanding General of the Army’s Installation Management Command, responsible for operation of all the Army bases worldwide with a $12B budget and 73,000 military and civilian employees. During his command tour, LTG Ferriter transformed the Installation Management Command and cut costs by nearly $3B.

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LTG Ferriter was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry from The Citadel in 1979. He served as a Paratrooper and in light and heavy Infantry forces, as well as with Army Special Operations as an Army Ranger. He parachuted with Paratroopers and Rangers 198 times and has served in combat in Mogadishu, Somalia and in 3 tours in Iraq.

He spent his career building teams and developing leaders and he believes we all have the ability to demonstrate inspired leadership. Upon his retirement, he established The Ferriter Group LLC, in order to develop leaders, build teams and transform corporations. LTG Ferriter also provides Hands-On Inspired Leadership seminars for Veterans, Wounded Warriors and families of our Fallen Soldiers. He believes when you add Veterans to your ranks; you infuse leadership, teamwork and success. LTG Ferriter and his team also present Hands-On Inspired Leadership seminars to senior business executives, corporate managers, high school teens and anyone looking to build character, build teams, and develop self-confidence and resilience.

He provides consulting services on the Board of Advisors for a few organizations including Patriot Foundation, Renewable Energy companies, the Veterans Golf Association, Links to Freedom Foundation and To The Fallen Entertainment. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt and currently head instructor at Champions Martial Arts Academy, in Puyallup, Washington.

LTG Ferriter and his wife Margie have been married 35 years and raised 4 awesome children who grew up valuing service to the nation. The Ferriter family includes Meghan Ferriter, PhD; Major Dan and his wife Jessica Ferriter, Captain Paddy and his wife Lauren Ferriter, and Captain Garrett and Mary Whitney Whittaker with their son, Parker and daughter, Reagan.

LTG Ferriter lives his life by these three beliefs: Do Your Best! Do What’s Right! Demonstrate Inspired Leadership!


Lieutenant General Bennet Sacolick, USA Retired, began his career enlisting as a Private in 1981 and retired 35 years later as a Lieutenant General.  He completed his career in July 2016 as the Director for Strategic Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center, where he wrote and assessed National Security Strategies, and provided policy recommendations on behalf of the White House and National Security Council.

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As a career Special Forces Officer, LTG Sacolick commanded at every level, from detachment through division, to include commanding the Army’s most elite fighting force, 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force), and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, the Army’s Special Operations Center of Excellence. LTG Sacolick served as the first Deputy Director for Defense at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Counter Terrorism Center and created the Directorate of Force Management & Development at Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command, where he managed a multi-million-dollar comprehensive health and wellness program and directed the talent development efforts of approximately 66,000 U.S. Special Operations Forces.

LTG Sacolick’s education includes a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from San Francisco State University, a Master’s in Administration from Central Michigan University and completion of the National Clandestine Services Graduate Studies program while serving as an Army Fellow at the Central Intelligence Agency.

LTG Sacolick and his wife, Joyce, enjoy travel, biking, hiking, exploring and basically anything outdoors. They are happily married and live in Pinehurst, North Carolina.


Lieutenant General Ken Tovo culminated his 35 year military career in 2018, serving as the commander of the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).

He began his service in the Infantry upon graduation from the US Military Academy in 1983. After serving his initial tour with the 82nd Airborne Division, Tovo completed the Special Forces Qualification Course and transferred to the Special Forces branch.

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He served as a Special Forces detachment, company, battalion, and group commander in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Tovo’s additional assignments included serving as a plans and ops officer with 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta and Joint Headquarters Center (NATO); aide de-camp to the commander, Stabilization Force, Bosnia; Chief of Staff, USASOC; Deputy Commanding General, Special Operations Command Europe; Director, Special Operations Division-Iraq; Deputy Commanding General, 1st Armored Division/U.S. Division Center, Iraq; Commanding General, Special Operations Command Central; Commanding General, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan and NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan; and Deputy Commander, US Southern Command in Miami, Fla.

LTG Tovo’s operational assignments include the first Gulf War, refugee relief operations in Northern Iraq, noncombatant evacuation operations in Sierra Leone, peacekeeping operations in Bosnia on two occasions, five tours in Iraq, and one tour in Afghanistan.

He earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering from USMA, an MS in Advanced Military Studies from the US Army Command & General Staff College, and a MS in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.

He is currently the President & CEO of DOL Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm focused on providing advice to companies on strategic planning, risk management, and organizational effectiveness, as well as Chairman of Horizons Infinis, LLC, a residential rental property company.

Ken and his wife, Suzanne, have been married for 33 years. They raised two sons who both serve the Nation – one as a Special Forces officer and the other as a high school teacher.


Over the course of his 32-year career in Army and Joint assignments, the majority of it as a Green Beret, Fran served with high performing organizations at varying levels, from a 12-man Special Forces ‘A-team’ to the 36,000- Soldier and Civilian US Army Special Operations Command.

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His recent assignments were Deputy Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division, Assistant Commanding General of JSOC, CG of 1st Special Forces Command and Commanding General of the US Army Special Operations Command. Fran is a fluent French speaker, and has had the opportunity to travel to nearly 80 countries. As an immigrant, service to his Nation has been an important hallmark of his career choices. His operational assignments, totaling six years of deployed time, include the first Gulf War; comprehensive Africa experience to include noncombatant evacuation operations in Sierra Leone and the Congo; multiple peacekeeping operations in Kosovo; numerous deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Jordan, all during eras of war, turmoil or crisis. Fran was a distinguished academic and military graduate from the Citadel and holds a MA in Military Arts and Science from the US Army Command & General Staff College and a MS in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. Fran, an avid outdoorsman, and his wife of 32 years, Liz, live in Charleston, SC. They raised three children: one a Special Forces military spouse, one serving in Special Forces, and one in college.


Major General (Retired) Zannie Smith was born in Hopewell, Virginia. General Smith began his military career in 1962 as an enlisted soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was commissioned through Officer Candidate School as an Infantry officer. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa and a Master of Arts Degree in Business Management from Webster University.

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His military education includes the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College. His distinguished career in the Army included a variety of command and staff positions. As a Junior Officer he served in assignments in the Republic of Vietnam, Fort Sherman, Panama, Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. As a field grade officer, he served in a variety of key positions including an operations officer in the Combined Field Army, Republic of Korea, a battalion S-3, battalion executive officer, and brigade executive officer in the 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord, California. He served on the Army Staff at the Pentagon in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans. He was the Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York and later served as the division’s G-3. General Smith served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm as the Deputy G-3, XVIII Airborne Corps, and from November 1991 until October 1993, commanded the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade. Subsequent assignments were Chief of Staff, Joint Task Force, Somalia; Chief of Staff, 101st Airborne Division; and G-3, XVIII Airborne Corps. After assignments with United States Army Reserve Command, I Corps, NATO assignment in Turkey as the Deputy Commander, Joint Sub Regional Command Southeast/Commanding General, United States Army he became the Deputy Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg and Acting Commanding General during Operation Enduring Freedom. After his retirement from the U.S. Army, General Smith joined Anteon Corporation as a Group Senior Vice President in August 2004 and continued as Senior Vice President, National and Homeland Security Division following General Dynamics’ acquisition of Anteon in June 2006. In that capacity he managed the Division’s entire portfolio of approximately 3,800 people and over $1 billion in business providing information technology support and professional services to customers within the United States Army and a select number of other federal government customers. General Smith retired from General Dynamics in 2012. In January of 2015, General Smith was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and President of USfalcon, Inc. Prior to his appointment, he was a member of the USfalcon Board of Advisors.


Major General Charles H. Swannack, Jr. was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry from the United States Military Academy on 9 June 1971.  He has proudly served his Nation for thirty plus years in command and staff positions at every level from platoon to Department of the Army.

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Prior to retiring, MG Swannack served for six months as the Deputy Commander, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, where he helped prepare Corps units for deployment to Iraq. Before assuming these duties, MG Swannack commanded the 82nd Airborne Division from 8 October 2002-27 May 2004. During this time, he provided forces to Combined Joint Task Force-180 for combat operations in Afghanistan, and he personally led the Division during combat operations from Kuwait to Baghdad and later civil-military operations in western Iraq.

Prior general officer assignments include: Commanding General of Multinational Division (North) and Task Force Eagle during Operation JOINT FORGE (SFOR 11) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he oversaw implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords; Commanding General of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, where he was the senior trainer for all Light, Airborne, Air Assault, Ranger and Special Forces units in the Army; and Deputy Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy within the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, Headquarters, Department of the Army.  His initial assignment as a general officer was with the 82nd Airborne Division as the Assistant Division Commander (Operations).

As a Brigade Commander, MG Swannack deployed to Haiti for peacekeeping operations during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY.  He also served in the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, J5, the Joint Staff, where he was instrumental in developing and executing US strategy and policy for Central America and the Caribbean Basin. As a Battalion Commander, he deployed to Panama during Operation NIMROD DANCER and subsequently participated in combat operations during Operation JUST CAUSE.

MG Swannack is a graduate of Capstone and the National War College. He holds a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Virginia.

His decorations include the Legion of Merit (6OLC) and Bronze Star Medal (1OLC). He proudly wears the Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab.

MG Swannack is married and has twin children.


Major General Al Aycock was appointed as a Senior Executive Service civilian in December 2017 for duty as the Deputy to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, NC.  Al retired from the U.S. Army as a Major General in 2016 after over 37 years of service.

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Al graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1978 where he was Captain of the USMA Parachute Team.  He served a variety of assignments in the Infantry, Special Forces, and leadership of Army Garrisons.  Al served in the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, 5thSpecial Forces Group (Airborne), The Joint Staff, U.S. Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg Garrison, Korea Garrisons, U.S. Forces Korea, U.S Special Operations Command—Korea, Army Central Command, and The Army Staff.

Al holds a Master of Education degree from Fayetteville State University and a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College.  His military education includes the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army Management Staff College.  Al also has a certificate in Non-profit Management from Duke University and serves on the board of numerous charitable and civic groups including Comfort Crew for Military Kids, Cape Fear Regional Theater, Greater Fayetteville Chamber Military Affairs Council Chair, Sandhills Regional Land Use Advisory Commission, Salvation Army, Kiwanis, and the Methodist University Board of Visitors.

Al has been happily married to Sue Padrick Aycock since 1980.


Major General Steve Busby culminated his 38-year military career in 2017, serving as the Deputy Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC). He began his service as an enlisted Marine and received his commission through the Marine Corps’ enlisted commissioning program. Upon commissioning, he completed flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1983.

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His command assignments included as the Commanding General, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing; Marine Aircraft Group 36 and Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron 352, as well as, Commander, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Unified Assistance supporting Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts in Indonesia after the December 2004 Tsunami.

Major General Busby’s staff assignments included service as the USCENTCOM J5 (Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy); Deputy Commanding General, MCCDC and as Director, Force Application, Management and Support, Joint Staff J8. Additionally, he served as the Executive Assistant to the Deputy Commandant for Aviation, HQMC and as a Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He earned a BA in Aviation Business Administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a MS in Resourcing National Security Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now the Eisenhower School} at the National Defense University.

Upon retirement, he joined Textron, Inc. as the Vice President for Washington Operations where he was responsible for leading, coordinating and implementing corporate marketing, business development and senior government relations efforts with the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.

Major General Busby recently departed Textron and relocated to Whispering Pines, N.C. to enjoy life in the Sandhills of North Carolina with Cindy, his wife of 37 years. They have two grown children and two grand-children.


Major General Mark O’Neil started the O’Neil Network during his transition from a distinguished 33-year career in the U.S. Army. Combat-proven and decorated, Mark is continuing his lifelong work through the O’Neil Network – assessing potential, selecting leaders, and helping people and private-sector organizations develop and improve through leadership lessons that can be applied to today’s business environment.

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Mark has a demonstrated track record of adding value – connecting passion with purpose, developing teams, inspiring audiences, and building enduring relationships. He assessed, selected, trained and led the most elite special operations organization in the world, solving our nation’s most complex and dangerous problems. Comfortable in crisis action planning in competitive, dynamic, and high-risk environments, Mark energizes leaders by inspiring them to act with disciplined initiative. Mark consistently establishes a culture where teams strive to be proactive, focus on priorities more efficiently, and optimize problem-solving skills. Mark’s extensive leadership experience with conventional and special operations units has made him an expert at hands-on crisis management. During 16 years with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Mark became adept at working in changing and stressful environments. He is an expert at managing ambiguity in decision making, with a deep understanding of what it takes to lead in the face of uncertainty. He has consistently emphasized that relationships matter, and has built enduring international connections throughout his career. As the Deputy Commanding General – Operations for 10th Mountain Division, Mark leveraged strategic planning, leader interaction, and blending of ideas to create and sustain partnerships across conventional, interagency and special operations portfolios. He simplified the complex to focus on the mission – achieving unified goals with measurable outcomes while facilitating a streamlined approach to organizational competency. Through Mark’s vision, mission and priorities as two-star commander, combat formations across 11,000 personnel in three separate Alaskan locations increased lethality, readiness, and deployability status for worldwide contingencies. The result: all combined arms maneuver formations within his command met or exceeded standards. Mark earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Norwich University and a Masters of Military Arts and Science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He completed his Senior Service College Fellowship with the Central Intelligence Agency. Mark and his wife Wendy are the proud parents of Taylor (27) and CPL Riley O’Neil (23), currently serving as an Airborne Ranger.


Within Special Forces, MG Sonntag served in a variety of command and staff positions. Among those are: 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the Special Operations Train­ing Detachment at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana, the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS,) Special Forces Command, and the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).

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As a general officer, he served as the USASOC Deputy Commanding General, and in addition to commanding SWCS he also commanded the Special Operations Command South, U.S. Southern Command and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

In addition to the US Military Academy, he is also a graduate of the Naval Command and Staff College, and Louisiana State University. Sonntag is also a Harvard Kennedy School National Security Fellow.

Kurt and his wife Dee have been happily married for almost 33 years and have two children.


MG (R) Brian Winski culminated 37 years of service as the Commanding General of the 101 st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, Kentucky. During his military service, he served across the globe and commanded formations at every echelon from Platoon to Division.

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His recent assignments as a General Officer included Deputy Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg NC, Director of the Army Operations directorate in the Pentagon, Chief of Army Legislative Affairs at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill, and most recently Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell.

He served as a Rifle Platoon Leader in Operation Desert Storm with the 101st, and since 9/11 multiple combat deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other contingency areas.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in History from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and a master’s degree in history from LSU. He was a Military Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and served as a Military Professor at the Naval War College. His awards include the Combat Infantryman's badge with star, Ranger tab, Master Parachutist badge, Air Assault badge and Expert Infantryman’s Badge. He was awarded the Distinguished Service medal twice, the Legion of Merit 3 times, and the Bronze Star 6 times including one for Valor.

Brian and his wife Kimberly reside in southeast Wisconsin. Their Daughter is an Aviation Officer serving in the 4th Infantry Division, and their Son is an Infantry Officer serving in the 82nd Airborne Division.


RDML Cliff Sharpe is a native of Lumberton, N.C., and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.  He retired in 2012 after thirty years of service.  Flag assignments included: Commander, Carrier Strike Group Eight; Commander, Naval Service Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill and Chief Operating Officer for Naval Education and Training Command (NETC).

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At sea, Sharpe commanded Destroyer Squadron Two, USS Stout (DDG 55), and (MCM) Rotational Crew Echo. Earlier sea duty included Operations Officer for Destroyer Squadron 22 and USS Thomas C. Hart (FF 1092), as well as his initial sea assignment upon completion of Officer Candidate School in USS Josephus Daniels (CG 27).  He completed multiple deployments in support of DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Ashore, Sharpe served at the Naval Personnel Command and on the Joint Staff, Washington, in the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate (J-5). Previous shore assignments include Surface Warfare Officer Community manager and instructor duty at both the Surface Warfare Officer School and at the Naval Academy Preparatory School.  Sharpe holds a Master of Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island.  He as holds a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College where he graduated with distinction and served as the U.S. representative to the Naval Staff College (Class 47), a program of work, travel and study with international officers.
RDML Sharpe is married to the former Brenda Bagley.  The couple has three grown children.


Brigadier General (Retired) Scott E. Brower graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1989 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Defense Artillery where he served with the 8th Infantry Division (Mechanized) in Mainz, West Germany and deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm.

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Following attendance at the Special Forces Qualification Course, Brigadier General Brower had assignments with both the 3rd and 5th Special Forces Groups, commanding at the Detachment, Company, Battalion and Group levels.  His combat service following the events of 9/11 included the initial invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, with three additional tours to Iraq, culminating with command of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Arabian Peninsula, an additional tour to Afghanistan, and a deployment to Islamabad, Pakistan.

In Brigadier General Brower’s final assignment at Fort Campbell, KY, which culminated 12 years of service at this installation, he served as the Acting Senior Commander for the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell.

Scott and his wife Jen have two children. Their older daughter, Jordan, is married to CPT Robert Sahms, currently assigned to 10th Mountain Division in Watertown, NY and they have one son, Parker.  Their younger daughter, Courtney, is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of St. Augustine.


CSM Steven R. England (US Army, Ret.) is a native of Ohio.  He enlisted in the United States Army in August 1971.  He received Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Ord, California.  Throughout his distinguished military career he continued to further his military education and training.

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He completed Airborne, Ranger, Jumpmaster, Drill Sergeant, Jungle Warfare schools, and the Instructor Training Course, as well as being a graduate of all noncommissioned officer education schools including the functional courses, Operations and Intelligence Course, and the First Sergeant Course.  Command Sergeant Major (R) England was also chosen as the Association of the United States Army Graduate for Military Excellence for the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy and the Operations and Intelligence Course.  He attended the first Command Senior Enlisted Leadership Course at JFCOM; where he also acted as the senior mentor.

Command Sergeant Major (R) England held numerous leadership positions throughout his career, which include:  squad leader; ranger instructor; platoon sergeant; drill sergeant; first sergeant; operation sergeant major; battalion and brigade CSM; Commandant, XVIII Airborne Corps Noncommissioned Officer’s Academy; Division and Corps CSM; and Command Sergeant Major for Combined/Joint Task Force-180, Bagram, Afghanistan.  His assignments over his 34 year career include:  Command Sergeant Major, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg; Command Sergeant Major, 82d Airborne Division; Brigade Command Sergeant Major, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment; and Battalion Command Sergeant Major, 3-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  He also served at the Ranger Department as the Tactical NCO and all three of the ranger battalions, and the regimental headquarters of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Command Sergeant Major (R) England has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal; Defense Superior Service Medal; the Legion of Merit; the Bronze Star Medal; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters; Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters; Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf cluster; Joint Meritorious Unit Award with one oak leaf cluster; the Army Good Conduct Medal (10th award); National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Southwest Asia Service Medal with two bronze stars; Noncommissioned Officer’s Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 4; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Kuwait Liberation Medal; Combat and Expert Infantryman Badge; Master Parachutist Badge with gold combat star; Pathfinder Badge; Ranger Tab; and Drill Sergeant Identification Badge.

In 2011 he was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame and received the Sergeant Major of the Army William G. Bainbridge Medal from the Association of the United States Army. In 2014 he was the recipient of the Doughboy award the highest honor given by the Infantry community.

Command Sergeant Major (R) England is married to the former Renae Troth they have two daughters Heather and Amanda.


CSM (Ret) Bill Thetford joined the Wexford team in July 2019 and is based in the Fayetteville/ Southern Pines, NC area.  A veteran with over 35 years of Special Operations experience, he served in both the Ranger Regiment and Special Missions Unit, holding virtually every NCO leadership position available, including Command Sergeant Major.

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At the nominative level, he played an important role as the Command Senior Enlisted Leader for the Joint Special Operations Command at Ft. Bragg, NC, the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB, FL, and in his final military assignment, as the Command Senior Enlisted Leader of U.S. Central Command, also at MacDill.

Mr. Thetford has extensive combat experience and deployed multiple times throughout his career.  He participated in Operations Urgent Fury, Grenada; Gothic Serpent-Task Force Ranger, Mogadishu, Somalia, earning a Silver Star for valor; and Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, and Enduring Freedom in the Middle East. He supported peacekeeping operations in Bosnia as well.

Mr. Thetford’s accomplishments are numerous. He enhanced the National Defense University’s Keystone Course as a returning Senior Fellow by exposing current and evolving real-world perspective, resulting in the professional development of over 300 future joint force leaders for the Defense Department. Also, he worked alongside researchers, senior military and government officials, providing guidance and insight towards the integration of women into special operations combat career fields.  Additionally, he made a lasting contribution by assisting specific Middle Eastern countries to professionalize their enlisted ranks.

During his time of service, Mr. Thetford attended and graduated from military and civilian schools including the Keystone Course, Special Forces Qualifications Course, and the Ranger Leadership Course.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science from Campbell University and a Master’s Degree in Business and Organizational Security Management from Webster University.

Mr. Thetford earned significant awards to include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star Medal with V-Device.  In 2018, he earned the VFW’s prestigious Armed Forces Award, recognizing his substantial contributions to the nation.


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