The OpsLens Team
Drew Berquist is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for OpsLens. Drew served as a counterterrorism officer for the United States Intelligence Community, where he performed more than thirty deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct intelligence operations against the Taliban, al-Qai’da and more recently ISIS. Drew has commented on national security matters on Fox and Friends, Lou Dobbs, Dennis Miller and a number of other shows throughout the country.
Mike Blakey is the OpsLens General Manager and is an Air Force Veteran. Following his time in the Air Force, Blakey performed more than thirty deployments to the Middle East in order to conduct covert action and counterterrorism operations for the United States Intelligence Community.
Senior Advisor/Board Member
Ron Hammond is Senior Advisor and Board Member for OpsLens. Hammond is a former CIA Operations Officer and US Army Guard Officer. He has over 28 years in the Intelligence Community where he focused on the Middle East and South Asia, more specifically on combating terrorism and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Following his career in the intelligence and military communities, Hammond started and sold several highly respected companies in the defense industry. Additionally, he serves as a Board Member for several technology companies.
Gary Berntsen is a Senior Advisor and Contributor for OpsLens. He is also the bestselling author of Jawbreaker and a former senior CIA Case officer who was among the first into Afghanistan following the attacks on 9/11. Gary frequently makes appearances on Fox News, NewsMax and other major outlets to comment on matters of national security.
Nick Nichols is an OpsLens Advisor and retired Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Special Forces. Following his 25-year military career , Nichols then served as a covert action officer for over 15 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community. Nichols has over 65 deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout other Middle East, South East Asia, and East Africa countries.
Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.
Sheena Hutchison is the OpsLens Social Media Coordinator and a Guest Contributor. She has nearly a decade of experience in domestic and international political analysis and campaign strategy. As a ghostwriter for a former Reagan-appointed ambassador to the United Nations, much of her work has focused on national security issues and advancing America's interests."
The OpsLens Contributors
Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) was the principal deputy assistant secretary of energy for international affairs during the Bush administration. Additionally, Marcois served as a career foreign service officer with the State Department. He is a director at the Richard Richards Foundation.
Sheriff Leon Lott leads the near-1,000-employee Richland County Sheriff's Dept. (RCSD), one of the largest law enforcement agencies in South Carolina; one of six regularly featured LE agencies on A&E's hit TV series, LIVE PD; and an agency which fields what is “arguably one of the best-trained SWAT teams in the nation,” according to Sheriff & Deputy magazine. The RCSD Special Response Team – a FEMA Type-1 SWAT team – has trained with everyone from the FBI to U.S. Army Special Forces operators, U.S. Navy SEALs, and a variety of foreign police agencies. In 2010, Lott traveled to Erbil, Iraq – at the invitation of the Iraqi government – to assist in the establishment of, planning for, and training at the first-ever Iraqi female police academy. Lott has served as sheriff of Richland County for over 20 years.
T.B. Lefever is an active police officer in the Metro-Atlanta area. Throughout his career, Lefever has served as a SWAT Hostage Negotiator, a member of the Crime Suppression Unit, a School Resource Officer, and a Uniformed Patrol Officer. T.B. is also a certified Field Training Officer. He has a BA in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Rutgers University. Follow T.B. on Twitter @tblefever.
W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a formerly deployed U.S. Marine rifle squad (infantry) leader, a shipboard counterterrorism instructor, and a SWAT team officer in the nuclear industry. A retired Col. (O-6) in the S.C. Military Dept., Smith founded the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team, and he is a technical consultant for films which have aired on The Military Channel. A New York Times bestselling editor; Smith’s travels have taken him across the globe. His work has appeared in The New York Post, U.S. News & World Report, Human Events, BusinessWeek, POLICEONE, Marine Corps Times, S.W.A.T. magazine, BLACK BELT, and many others. He is a former advisor to the S.C. Governor’s Military Base Task Force, and a special deputy with the Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff's Dept.
Marjorie K. Eastman is a US Army Veteran. Eastman served 10 years in the Army Reserve, including two combat deployments. She received a Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, and has her MBA from Vanderbilt University. She is on the 2018 list of Top 25 Influencers supporting the military community and also a 2017 National Independent Publisher Award winning author of The Frontline Generation: How We Served Post 9/11.
Chris Carter is the Director of the Victory Institute, and deputy regional director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team. His work appears at The US Report, International Analyst Network, Human Events, Canada Free Press, Family Security Matters, Deutsche Welle, NavySEALs.com, Blackfive and other publications. Chris is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, non-commissioned officer in the South Carolina State Guard, and retired firefighter.
Samuel Siskind studied intelligence research at the American Military University in West Virginia. He served as a squad commander in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Corp of Combat Engineers, in the Corps' ground battalions and later in its Intelligence Wing at regional and divisional stations. For the past five years, Samuel has worked as a consultant and researcher on physical and information security issues for private and governmental institutions, in the US, Africa, India, and Israel. He currently lives in Jerusalem.
Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.
Matthew Wadler is a U.S. Army veteran. Matt served in the Army for 20 years as both enlisted and officer before retiring. His service includes time as Military Police, Field Artillery, Adjutant General, and Recruiting. His deployments include Somalia and two tours to Afghanistan. His formal education includes a master’s degree in HR Management. He is a strong supporter of the constitution and advocate for the military and veteran communities. Follow Matthew on Twitter @MatthewWadler.
Chris Erickson is a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier. He spent over 10 years in the Army and performed multiple combat deployments, as well as various global training missions throughout the world. He is still active in the veteran community and currently works in the communications industry. Follow him @EricksonPrime on Twitter.
Katie Begley is a US Naval Academy graduate and former Surface Warfare Officer. In addition to being a military spouse, she is a freelance writer specializing in travel, education, and parenting subjects. Katie has worked in numerous communications roles for volunteer organizations and professionally for a local parenting magazine.
Brandon Blackburn is the co-host of the Talking Terrorism Podcast and a former CIA Counterterrorism Officer. During his time in the CIA, Blackburn served multiple tours in the Middle East; including Iraq, Jordan, and in Afghanistan. Since departing the agency, Blackburn co-founded Tip Of The Spear Productions and Consulting, where he and his team work on media productions aimed at telling the stories of law enforcement and military and also consults with law enforcement and private businesses on national security related issues. Additionally, he is a Consulting Producer for “Live PD” on A&E. Blackburn also holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and an MBA with a concentration in International Business.
Morgan Deane is a former U.S. Marine Corps infantry rifleman. Deane also served in the National Guard as an Intelligence Analyst. He is the author of the forthcoming book Decisive Battles in Chinese history, as well as Bleached Bones and Wicked Serpents: Ancient Warfare in the Book of Mormon.
Chad Storlie is a retired Lieutenant Colonel with 20-plus years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. Chad is author of two books: "Combat Leader to Corporate Leader" and "Battlefield to Business Success." Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @Combattocorp.
Michael Harris is a co-host of The Hooch podcast. Harris a retired U.S. Army Infantryman with 21 years of service. During his career Harris deployed to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq on three separate occasions.
Rob Maness is a former US Senate candidate and retired Air Force Colonel with over 32 years of military service. During his storied career, Colonel Maness began fighting terrorism as an enlisted Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician and as an officer led numerous combat operations, including as a bomber squadron commander in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He served at the Pentagon as a Nuclear Operations Officer on the Joint Chief of Staff advising the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on theater nuclear plans and operations, as Vice Wing Commander of the USAF's largest airborne intelligence wing, and finally as a Wing Commander commanding one of our nation's largest military installations and it's largest nuclear operations mission. Colonel Maness is a survivor of the 9/11 Pentagon attack. He is now the owner of Iron Liberty Group. Follow him on Twitter @RobManess.
Jon Harris is a former Army NCO, Sergeant Morales Club member, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He is published in Army Trainer Magazine, authored regular columns in several newspapers, and is the author of the Cold War novel Breakpoint. His adventures as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on www.dispatchfromdownrange.com. He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree.
Chris Bolender is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Captain. During his 16 years of service he served in multiple combat zones. Among his positions were Electronic Warfare Module Supervisor aboard the USS Harry S. Truman, Senior Tactical Air Traffic Director at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan and Ballistic Missile Defense Detachment Commander during three North Korea missile crises (2012 - 2013). He is currently a writer specializing in film screenplays, non-fiction, memoir, and children's books.
Chris Wagoner is a U.S. Army Veteran and has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance writer and posts his articles on "Down Range with Chris Wagoner".
Josh Garrison is a U.S Army Veteran with over 50 combined deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Josh is a Purple Heart recipient who served operationally in varied roles with a U.S. Army Long Range Surveillance Unit and other government agencies involved in intelligence and counterterrorism missions.
Dr. Katherine (Kat) Harris is a veteran spouse, expat, and former military contractor with over 20 years of expertise in military/family transition, career counseling, higher education, organizational strategic planning, and international relations. She has conducted seminars and workshops for many Department of Army commands, plus many non-profit and community associations. She served as a translator and liaison for American, British, French, and German civilian/military communities in Berlin and Helmstedt, Germany. Academically, Dr. Harris holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Studies from The University of Maryland European Division, a Master of Arts in International Relations from Boston University, and a Doctorate in Education from Rowan University with an emphasis in leadership and higher education in a global context.
L. Todd Wood is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and flew special operations helicopters supporting Tier One elements. After leaving the military, he pursued his other passion, finance, spending 18 years on Wall Street trading emerging market debt, and later, writing. The first of his many thrillers is “Currency.” Todd is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and has contributed to Fox Business, Newsmax TV, Moscow Times, the New York Post, the National Review, Zero Hedge, The Jerusalem Post, and others. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Tsarizm.com. For more information about L. Todd Wood, visit LToddWood.com.
Lewis Wagoner is a former Navy SEAL. Following his career in the Navy, Lewis served as a police office for more than 30 years, which included time in SWAT. He now is a Certified FBI Self Defense and Arrest Techniques Instructor. He is also a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Mubin Shaikh is a co-host of the Talking Terrorism Podcast. He is a former undercover counter terrorism operative having infiltrated extremist and terrorist groups (in both social and human networks) and is now an external Subject Matter Expert on ISIS for the Command Staff of CENTCOM, the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate and trains/lectures to (Coalition countries) police, intelligence and special operations forces on the terrorist threat.
Jeremiah D. McCloud is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer. McCloud spent nearly four years as an enlisted Marine, then attended the U.S. Naval Academy where he earned a BS in International Relations. McCloud deployed to Afghanistan, and has since acquired an MBA from the University of Virginia in International Business and Communications.
Ray Walker is a retired Senior Intelligence Officer of the CIA with more than 20 years of overseas experience and a total of more than 30 years of service. He is a supporter of the Heritage Foundation and is actively involved in a small non-profit organization dedicated to helping wounded vets from recent mid-east conflicts make the transition to civilian life.