The Hoover Institution Welcomes 2020–21 Class Of National Security Affairs Fellows

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Hoover Institution
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The Hoover Institution is pleased to welcome its 2020–21 class of the Robert and Marion Oster National Security Affairs Fellowship (NSAF) Program.

The distinguished group of eight fellows are high-ranking officers representing US military branches and the US Foreign Service, who have taken a sabbatical from their operational duties to spend their academic year at Hoover and pursue independent research. 

The program offers these national security professionals the valuable opportunity to engage with Hoover’s fellowship and scholars across the Stanford campus, as well as audit classes, attend seminars, and participate in workshops, roundtables, and other events with policy experts and government officials. In addition, NSAFs can develop lasting professional networks and personals relationships with Silicon Valley industry leaders, former government officials on campus, and Hoover fellows.

These unique resources afford the officers an environment that allows them to gain an interdisciplinary perspective about public policy and think strategically about America’s national security challenges.

In addition to their research, the NSAFs are also expected to provide mentorship to three or four of Stanford University’s top undergraduate students who are interested in international policy and security studies. For NSAFs, their mentorship offers a way to engage in life at Stanford University. For students, it’s the chance of a lifetime to receive leadership training from officers at the top of their field. Students also have the opportunity to collaborate with NSAFs on designing a 10-week lecture series and organizing an “alternative spring break” to military bases and political offices in Washington, DC, in order to achieve a better understanding of civil-military relations.

The National Security Affairs Fellows Program, directed by Davies Family Senior Fellow Amy Zegart, began in 1969 and has more than 197 distinguished alumni, including H. R. McMaster (US Army, Ret.), Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow and the former White House national security advisor; John Abizaid (US Army, Ret.) former CENTCOM commander and current US ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and John Negroponte, former US ambassador to the United Nations and former director of national intelligence.

The 2020–21 class features eight distinguished officers representing four US military service branches and the US foreign service:

Chase Beamer is a career foreign service officer specializing in public diplomacy. He has served as political-military officer at the US Embassy in Djibouti; deputy spokesman at the US Embassy in Poland; deputy spokesman at the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; digital media coordinator of the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; spokesman at the US Embassy in Bolivia; and, most recently, as counselor for public affairs at the US Embassy in the Dominican Republic. He is the recipient of numerous Department of State awards for performance.

Lt. Col. Denny R. Davies is a C-130 pilot and former squadron commander in the US Air Force. He has served in the US Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air Mobility Command, Headquarters Air Force, US Indo-Pacific Command, and the Joint Staff. He deployed to Southwest Asia six times in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Most recently, he served as the deputy executive assistant to Admiral Philip S. Davidson, commander, US Indo-Pacific Command.

Lt. Col Kenneth J. del Mazo is an artillery officer in the US Marine Corps. A veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Lt. Col. Del Mazo has served as operational planner of US Marine Forces South focusing on crisis response in the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as integration with the Colombian Marine Corps. He recently commanded the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, an artillery battalion in the 1st Marine Division. Del Mazo’s research focus during his year at Hoover will be on the rising threats to US national security and how to optimize the Marines’ performance in countering those threats.

Lt. Col. Eldridge Singleton is a foreign area officer (FAO) in the US Army. He has served as chief of FAO Assignments Branch at the US Army Human Resources Command; in US embassies as the senior defense official and defense attaché to Belize, interim senior defense attaché to Jamaica, Army attaché to Bolivia, and security cooperation officer in Haiti; and in multiple combat roles in Iraq as a special forces and infantry officer. His research focus at Hoover will be on strategies to safeguard US interests in the Pacific islands. Following his fellowship, he will focus on interagency and multinational cooperation at the Department of Defense.

Lt. Col. Steven Skipper leads all force development and career management activities for all non-rated Air Force officers and personnel. Prior to this assignment, Lt. Col. Skipper was commander of the 5th Communications Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, supporting B-52 bomber and intercontinental ballistic missions. Among Skipper’s previous assignments was as commander of the 380th Expeditionary Communications Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Combined Task Force Horn of Africa. During the administrations of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Skipper was the mission director of Air Force One. His research focus at Hoover will be on cybersecurity and national defense.

Commander John “Jack” Souders, representing the U.S. Coast Guard, is a Coast Guard officer specializing in emergency response and law enforcement operations as an MH-65 helicopter pilot.  During his 18-year career, he served in a variety of afloat and aviation command and staff positions conducting operations throughout the Western Hemisphere. He has disrupted transnational criminal organizations at sea, flown post-hurricane search and rescue missions, and protected the National Capitol Region Flight Restricted Zone as a Rotary Wing Air Intercept pilot. 

Cdr. Jeffey Vanak is an intelligence officer in the United States Navy. He has served on multiple operational assignments, including deployments on board the USS Eisenhower and to Afghanistan, East Africa, and Iraq. His staff assignments include Special Operations Command, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)–Intelligence Plot at the Pentagon, and the CNO Strategic Studies Group, where he developed future Navy concepts for Human-Machine Teaming. Most recently, he has served at US Pacific Fleet, providing intelligence and planning support focused on warfighting and great power competition in the Indo-Pacific. His research focus will be on US competition with China in this region of the world.

Lt. Col. Jim Wiese is an infantry officer in the US Army. He has served in the special operations community in a number of leadership positions in deployments to Afghanistan, Germany, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Lt. Col. Wiese has extensive experience in counterterrorism operations and has traveled throughout the Middle East. He led an air assault infantry platoon during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and later an airborne infantry company deployed along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Between those deployments, Wiese served as a senior trainer for new infantry lieutenants, preparing them for service as combat platoon leaders.

For more information on the National Security Affairs Fellowship, contact Taylor McLamb at twj [at], (650) 723-1395.