Operation Eagle Claw, 1980: A Case Study In Crisis Management and Military Planning
by LTA Chua Lu Fong
Colonel Charles Beckwith
Commander, Delta Force
[ My intention with my blog is to simply collect articles of interest to me for purposes of future reference. I do my best to indicate who has actually composed the articles. NONE of the articles have been written by me. – Louis Sheehan ]
The 1980 seizure of the United States embassy in Iran and the capture of American hostages was a climax in the history of US Iran tensions and one of the lowest points in the American foreign policy record. The tragic failure of Operation Eagle Claw, the ambitious military operation mounted to rescue American hostages in Iranian hands, had led to the deaths of eight American soldiers without seeing combat and, in the larger scheme, exposed the limits and inadequacies of the world’s strongest military power.
The embassy in Tehran had been seized by Iranian student demonstrators on 4 November, 1979, in the wake of the Iranian revolution and fanned anti-American sentiment. The Iranian government was to condone these actions in the aftermath, leading to the failure of negotiation attempts by the administration of US President Jimmy Carter. The final resort was a military rescue mission to extricate the 53 American hostages, scheduled for 24 April 1980. The planned operation was to begin with the flight of eight Sea Stallion helicopters from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and six C-130 (Hercules) transport aircraft to their refuelling point in Desert One, a secret Iranian landing strip. The refuelled helicopters would fly crack counterterrorist troopers from Delta Force2 to Desert Two, a remote mountain hideaway near Tehran. The Delta troopers would hide a full day before being infiltrated into Tehran by trucks, at which point they would storm the embassy compound, use all necessary force to free the hostages, and then evacuate the country in helicopters, with help from aircraft providing covering fire and Army Rangers providing perimeter defences in an intermediate landing strip.3
The plan was ambitious and complex, and its execution met with disastrous results. Mechanical failures in three helicopters led to the decision to abort the mission at Desert One. To compound the defeat, a collision between aircraft during the withdrawal phase caused an explosion that killed eight soldiers. The mission’s failure was a disappointment, and its disastrous aftermath had eroded the faith of the American people in the Carter administration. The hostages were eventually released after 444 days in captivity.
Using the failed rescue attempt as a focal point, this research paper seeks to highlight salient aspects of crisis management and joint operational planning, particularly in the context of low-intensity conflict (as relevant now as it was then in 1980). This case-study approach is necessarily inductive, using a single event to derive or support more general conclusions about issues facing decision-makers and planners.
This paper proceeds in three parts. Firstly, possible pitfalls and pathologies in the political decision-making process are identified and explained. Secondly, the military planning phase of the mission, Operation Rice Bowl, is examined for other issues and ambiguities which arose. Thirdly, we examine the events and issues most related to the decision to terminate the mission, centred upon the failure of three helicopters to continue the mission.
Part I: Problems with the Decision Process
Statistical tests by Herek et al confirm our most fondly held notion that better decision-making is usually associated with more successful policy outcomes.4 This notion, however, applies ex ante to a large enough sample of events, like a series of independent coin-flipping trials; we must analyse historical case studies with an appreciation for the fact that specific political events, against a backdrop of particular circumstances, happen once and only once. A social scientist is compelled by training to see patterns everywhere, but we would do well to anchor the following account with a historian’s appreciation for the uniqueness of every political event in national histories.
Establishing Probabilities: of Base Rates and Historical Metaphors
In order to reach the decision to launch a rescue mission, it was necessary for the Carter administration to convince itself that the rescue mission had a good chance of success. This was an exercise that was fraught with difficulties, since the operation was novel and estimates of success were embodiments of hope and thought experiments rather than any infallible science.
Using an organisational perspective, Rosenzweig (1993) finds it notable that there was an unwillingness to quantify the mission’s probability of success in numerical percentage terms, which was inconsistent with most theoretical notions of procedural rationality. He notes that “there was never an explicit estimate of the mission’s chances of success” and deplores the lack of quantification of risk. Yet, he concurs with White House Press Secretary Jody Powell who reckoned that an explicit percent estimate would have been a “fake number, a sort of false empiricism.”5
A conventional practice of establishing at least a qualitative estimate of success probabilities is to study past events which resemble the imminent decision. An appropriate sample of past events would provide “base rates” for estimates of success, as well as offer historical analogies to encourage optimism or caution as the case may be.
Unfortunately, a serious study should have encouraged pessimism about the chances of mission success, but did not. Base rates were difficult to establish because the mission was unique and Delta Force was only created and fully operational in 1979. Nevertheless, a survey of US commando-type special operations reveals a less than 50% success rate and should have augured ill for the chances of success.6 Instead, the administration had chosen to justify its hopes by pointing to the recent successes of counterterrorist actions at Mogadishu (by Germany) and Entebbe (by Israel).7
The choices of historical analogy in guiding decision-making had important prescriptive implications. Dr Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and one of the rescue mission’s most bullish proponents, was deeply encouraged by the successes at Mogadishu and Entebbe. However, this contradicts the initial professional judgement of Colonel Charlie Beckwith, the commander of Delta Force:
“Logistically speaking it would be a bear. There were the vast distances, nearly 1,000 miles, of Iranian wasteland that had to be crossed, then the assault itself, against a heavily guarded building complex stuck in the middle of a city of 4,000,000 hostile folks. This was not going to be any Entebbe or Mogadishu.8 Nothing could be more difficult.”9
Gary Sick of the National Security Council writes in a post-crisis review: “There was never any illusion on the part of anyone… that it was anything but a high-risk venture… that would not only strain the limits of technology but would also press the endurance of men and machines to the outer margins.”10 How, then, did the administration eventually decide to undertake a rescue mission widely viewed as very risky?
The Path to a Dangerous Decision
Perhaps, it was simple wishful thinking that had prompted the Carter administration to descend the slippery slope of decision-making. Various theoretical explanations have been advanced to explain the progression from the recognition of high risk to the eventual acceptance of this risk.
One explanation squares with the aphorism that “a committee can make a decision that is dumber than any of its members.” Smith (1984) claims that the Carter administration had been afflicted with “groupthink”, whereby “excessive esprit de corps and amiability restrict the critical faculties of small decision-making groups” and “leads to irrational and dehumanising action directed against out-groups.”11 Sick writes, “Once one accepted the necessity of action, the selection of the rescue mission quickly asserted itself as a logical inevitability.”12 This squares with Alexander George’s description of a possible malfunction of the decision process: “When the President and his advisers agree too readily on the nature of the problem facing them and on a response to it.”13 The failure of negotiations had predisposed the administration toward stronger action. Escalating military pressure through naval mining or airstrikes was punitive but would do nothing to secure the release of the hostages. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had been the only articulate and determined objector to the rescue mission proposition but the momentum of groupthink had drowned out his voice.
Thus, when Vance provided serious arguments against the execution of a rescue mission, by asserting that the hostages would not be harmed further and that a rescue mission would likely endanger other American journalists in the vicinity by provoking Iranian retaliation, his ideas were dismissed. Narrative accounts indicate a certain desperation to take some form of positive action, instead of playing the patient waiting game advocated by Vance.
Another way to describe the propensity for risky action is to use prospect theory. McDermott (1992) uses the framework of prospect theory, developed by Tversky and Kahneman, to explain why President Carter, usually of a prudent and humanitarian bent and somewhat averse to exercising military options in foreign policy, had agreed to launch the rescue mission, a high-risk venture that was likely to involve bloodshed. In McDermott’s creative application of prospect theory, Carter had been operating in the domain of losses and was thus willing to take large risks in order to restore or at least get closer to the status quo.
To sum up, a potent combination of groupthink-like decision processes and risk-acceptance attitudes had pushed the administration into a decision that was, retrospectively at least, almost unthinkably dicey.
Part II: Problems with the Planning Phase:
Operation Rice Bowl
This section addresses two ambiguous issues that were related to the planning of the mission itself. Firstly, the role of military judgement in high-level crisis management is explored. Secondly, the trade-off between flexibility and commitment is assessed.
The Soldier and the State
In dealing with the crisis and approving plans for a military rescue mission, Carter wanted to avoid the pitfalls of Presidential micro-management of military affairs, a shortcoming of Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War and John F. Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis, by deferring judgement to military experts. After all, “deferral to experts was both a way to improve accuracy and also to preserve accountability.”14 On the other hand, the military has been accused of having a biased “can-do” spirit which understated the objective risks and limitations of the missions.15 This is a serious dilemma for a President who needed both military expertise and military objectivity in evaluating decisions on the use of force.
There is no theoretical consensus on the kinds of systematic biases which soldiers bring to the strategic decision process. Posen (1984) posits that military organisations are characterised by parochial interests such as power, prestige and size.16 Hence, their influence may systematically bias foreign policy toward offensive options. Furthermore, being specialists in combat, military officers possess an informational advantage over civilian leaders, and can easily preserve their autonomy in the technical aspects of military planning. However, Huntington asserts that “the military man rarely favours war [as] he always favours preparedness, but he never feels prepared He is afraid of war. He wants to prepare for war. But he is never ready to fight a war.”17
The evidence from this case study is equally mixed. While the generals on the President’s advisory staff have been attributed with an optimistic bias, commanders on the ground were much less sanguine about the mission’s chances of success. Colonel Charlie Beckwith, who established and commanded the Delta Force unit responsible for the embassy assault and hostage rescue, was famous for the following conversation with Task Force Commander Major General James B. Vaught during the preliminary planning stage:18
“What’s the risk, Colonel Beckwith?”
“Oh, about 99.9 percent.”
“What’s the probability of success?”
“Well, we can’t do it.”
“You’re right, Boss.”
“I’ve got to buy time from the JCS.”
In his book Delta Force, Beckwith details the immense difficulties associated with the rescue mission. Intelligence was poor in Iran, and “it had always been assumed that when Delta was needed overseas, the country in which it would operate would be friendly or at least neutral.”19 As the Air Force did not then have a special operations aircraft capability, the pilots for the mission had been drawn from the Marine Corps and trained in time for the aggressive flying style which, though the mission demanded it, was unfamiliar to them.
The contradiction between the optimism of the flag-rank staff officers and the pessimism of field commanders like Beckwith indicates that the feedback of ground commanders had not been taken seriously by a civilian administration which was determined to execute what it perceived as a last resort.
Complexity and Commitment
Operation Eagle Claw had been conceived as a highly complicated mission with many components and links. The theory of normal accidents offers some suggestive clues as to the nature and complexity of the operation involved. Organisational tasks may be classified along two dimensions: simple or complex, and loosely- or tightly-coupled. Given the diversity of specific military tasks, an armed operation could fall into any of the four possible categories. The involvement of multiple units – Sea Stallion helicopters, C-130 transport aircraft, Marine Corps pilots, Army Rangers and Delta Force operators and stages in the mission makes it highly complex. Furthermore, the need for the men and aircraft to move under cover of darkness meant that there was little room for error in maintaining tactical concealment, making it a tightly-coupled task. Hence, Operation Eagle Claw, as a complex and tightly-coupled task, was like an accident waiting to happen.
Factory assembly lines
Security guard systems
Nuclear plant management
Joint military operations
Indeed, the mission was a complex chain with multiple segments. According to Rosenzweig’s organisational perspective, a conjunctive probability bias had prevented the leaders from seeing that overall mission success would be considerably less than the success of any single mission component.21 The conjunctive probability bias had been allowed to operate only because there were many conjunctures in the first place. Unfortunately, the distances involved were so large and the embassy located so deep in enemy territory that the mission could hardly have been simplified further. Other infiltration/exfiltration options, such as using trucks or airborne drops, had been considered but overland infiltration took too long and merely increased the time interval in which the plan could be discovered, and airborne drops cause excessive casualties even before any combat begins. Helicopter infiltration (with intermediate refuel points) and the use of a special operations force gave the mission at least an appearance of surgical precision.
Strangely, some accounts suggest that having more stages gave the President the subsequent option of aborting the option, which implies that Carter had been less than totally committed to the rescue mission. After all, the desire to maintain flexibility during the mission itself indicates that starting the mission need not imply a commitment to see it through. For example, Gary Sick writes that “the need to be able to terminate and withdraw at any point, together with the need for absolute secrecy, added to the complexity and difficulty of both planning and execution.”22 Furthermore, according to Sick, “the operation was designed as a series of independent stages, capable of being terminated at any point if the mission was compromised.”23 In addition, Livingstone insists quite saliently that
“… the plan approved by the White House had too many ‘bail out’ mechanisms and not enough backup systems to overcome unexpected problems, thus confirming a lack of commitment to the original plan… It would appear that the White House tried to make the operation so free of risk that it was doomed from the outset inasmuch as any setback virtually guaranteed that the mission would not proceed.”24
Part III: Problems with Execution:
Operation Eagle Claw
This section deals only with the failure of the three helicopters which had led to the mission abortion, and not with the aircraft collision and explosion which occurred during mission withdrawal.
For Want of Six Helicopters
The first part of the mission had eight Sea Stallion helicopters fly from the carrier USS Nimitz, under way in the Arabian Sea, to rendezvous with the Delta troopers at Desert One where the “helos” would also refuel. Six had been deemed as the minimum number of helicopters needed for the mission. Unfortunately, three helicopters dropped out of the mission. Helo Number Six suffered rotor blade failures and needed to be abandoned. Helo Number Five entered a blinding dust-storm and, at less than twenty-five minutes to clear conditions and less than an hour from Desert One, reversed course and returned to the mother ship. Helo Number Two had reached Desert One but its hydraulic leaks rendered the craft crippled for the rest of the mission.25 There was a tense moment in the White House when the leaders considered going ahead with the mission with just five helicopters but eventually deferred to and accepted the ground commanders’ decision to abort.
These events revealed two issues. Firstly, was there a lack of pilot resolve in the decision to reverse the course of Helo Number Five? This was the most controversial issue to come out of post-mortem analyses.26 Secondly, if it had been decided ex ante to proceed with no less than six helicopters, why did the administration later consider proceeding with five? Was there a breakdown in decision-making discipline?
Beckwith was reputed to have blamed the pilots for the failure of the mission. His account, admittedly riddled with the fallible wisdom of perfect hindsight, describes the mental shakiness he had observed in some of the pilots. Furthermore, when a helicopter had collided with a C-130 fixed-wing plane and exploded during the withdrawal from the scene (after the mission had been aborted), the helicopter pilots had abandoned their helicopters and left the aircraft there (containing money, maps, documents and so on) without taking time to destroy their aircraft and hence maintain security. Beckwith had called them “cowards”.27
The craft of counterfactual thinking suggests that the most mutable aspect of the military bungle leading to the mission’s termination was the withdrawal of Helicopter Number Five. One good test of whether the lack of pilot resolve, as opposed to a disciplined adherence to standard operating procedure, was the motivation behind the pilot’s decision to turn back is the question: would he have turned back if he knew that only five other helicopters besides himself would later reach Desert One in fighting fit shape? Proponents of the normal accident theory charge that, though redundancy in systems should minimise hazards and improve performance, redundancy can sometimes be an active cause of accidents.28 In this instance, because two more than the required number of helicopters had been procured for the mission, an overall lack of complete pilot resolve might lead each individual to compromise his performance by thinking, “It wouldn’t matter if I screwed this up, there would be the other seven to carry on.” This accusation of inadequate pilot motivation is echoed by the on-scene air commander Colonel James Kyle who blames the pilot of Helo Number Five for the mission’s abortion.29
The second issue is whether the mission would or could proceed with just five helicopters. It should have been a moot point since the finalised plan of the mission impressed upon everyone that six was the absolute minimum. It seems that everyone, from the troops on the ground to the Commander-in-Chief, had been secure in the knowledge that the worst could not occur. This was evident in the way the key decision-makers, in a knee-jerk reaction, questioned and re-considered the plan, contemplating the possibility of going ahead with five helicopters after three had been taken out. This point in time had been an immense source of tension. General Vaught relayed a message to the ground commanders to ask them to reconsider going ahead with five helicopters, which had angered Colonel Beckwith because it placed upon them a burden which Beckwith felt was undeserved and unjustified, in view of the finalised plans. As Beckwith describes the occasion, “How… can the boss ask me that (to go ahead with five helicopters)? There isn’t any way. I’d have to leave behind twenty men. In a tight mission no one is expendable before you begin!” Colonel Kyle writes of the impossibility of carrying on with just five helicopters: “The only options were to either dump enough fuel from each Sea Stallion to allow for the weight of the extra troopers or reduce the number of Delta Force by some twenty shooters.”30
Was it good decision-making practice for the administration to even consider proceeding with five helicopters? Beckwith certainly did not think so, since he recognised that the mission was “tight” and left little room for error or compromise. On the other hand, Herek et al consider “failure to consider originally rejected alternatives” to be a feature of pathological decision-making.31 Which offers a more defensible normative view of decision-making: discipline or flexibility?
For all the prima facie appeal of decision-making flexibility, I would argue that discipline is more valuable than the sort of “flexibility” displayed during the crisis, especially since the latter had occupied unnecessary time which could have endangered troops as they remained longer in the desert. Beckwith was right to expect the administration to stick to their game plan: after all, the leaders should have been prepared to make the right decisions and react instantly in any contingency. If the worst happened, as it did, the administration should be prepared to pull the plug on the mission immediately, as intellectually if not emotionally rehearsed. Unnecessary vacillation and delay would only be unnecessary evils in a crisis situation where every minute counts. The soldiers remained vulnerable as long as they remain in the desert. As soon as the mission began, there would and should be no time to return to the drawing-board the whole drawing board ought to be figured out before the ball begins rolling.
It has been said that “victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan” but the failure of the Iran hostage rescue mission appears to result from an unfortunate combination of so many culpable elements, from organisational malfunctions to tactical lapses. The mission was a courageous endeavour, but its failure had domestic-political repercussions, inching President Carter out in the close 1981 election match against Ronald Reagan.
This paper has attempted to unite the various theoretical strands which highlight organisational problems with less abstract accounts of what actually took place, and at the same time highlight issues which are at once ambiguous yet important. At every level, it is evident that the United States had been forced into a box which was difficult to think and act outside of. A rescue mission was horribly risky but there were no alternatives for securing hostage safety decisively. A helicopter pilot appears to have failed his duty but then he had been “flying in a bowl of milk”.32
It is difficult to guess whether the mission would have succeeded if at least six helicopters had made it to Desert One in shipshape condition. Then again, it was such a complicated operation that anything could go wrong subsequently. The Delta operators might be discovered during their day hideout. Many hostages might have died during the assault. The getaway would probably have been a messy affair. The long arm of Murphy’s Law appears to have had an insidious presence in the spring of 1980.
It was indeed a sad moment in the military and political history of the United States. Nonetheless, it is an instructive episode that should prepare the country’s leadership to face its next foreign policy crisis with a confidence tempered by prudence and experience. The next crisis of a similar ilk would certainly put the government to a stern test not just of astuteness, but of memory.
1 Colonel (Ret.) Charlie Beckwith and Donald Knox, Delta Force (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983), 218-219.
2 Official name: Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta (SFOD-D).
3 Paul B. Ryan, The Iranian Rescue Mission: Why It Failed (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1985), 2.
4 Gregory M. Herek, Irving L. Janis and Paul Huth, “Decision-Making During International Crises: Is Quality of Process Related to Outcome?”, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 31 No. 2, June 1987.
5 Philip M. Rosenzweig, “Judgment in Organizational Decision-Making: The Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission,” 1993: 29.
6 Rosenzweig, 26.
7 In 1976, terrorists had forced a French airliner to land in Entebbe, Uganda, and seized its Israeli and Jewish passengers as hostages. Israel launched a successful counter-terrorist rescue operation in response. In 1977, German counter-terrorist troopers had launched a successful similar effort with a seized Lufthansa airliner which was forced to land in Mogadishu, Somalia.
8 Entebbe and Mogadishu were airport locations which the Israeli and German assault forces could access with relative ease and secrecy, unlike Tehran which was deep in enemy country. Emphasis added.
9 Beckwith, 188.
10 Gary Sick, “Military Constraints and Options” in American Hostages in Iran: The Conduct Of A Crisis, ed. Paul H. Kreisberg (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 154.
11 Steve Smith, “Groupthink and the Hostage Rescue Mission,” British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 15 No. 1 1984: 117.
12 Rosenzweig, 31.
13 Alexander George, “Some Possible (and Possibly Dangerous) Malfunctions of the Advisory Process,” 122.
14 Rosenzweig, 35.
15 Rosenzweig, 15.
16 Barry Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984).
17 Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1957), 69.
18 Beckwith, 199.
19 Beckwith, 200.
20 Based on a lecture by Prof Scott D. Sagan, Stanford University, for course “International Security in a Changing World.” Winter Quarter, 1999.
21 See Rosenzweig, 22-24. For instance, consider a military operation with five segments. Even if each segment has a high chance of success, like 95%, the probability of success for the whole mission is much lower at 77%. This suggests that if the mission had been planned more in line with the KISS (“Keep it simple, stupid”) military maxim, with fewer conjunctures, it might have had a higher chance of success.
22 Christopher, 154.
23 Charles G. Cogan, “Not to Offend: Observations on Iran, the Hostages, and the Hostage Rescue Mission Ten Years Later,” Comparative Strategy Vol. 9, 1990: 423.
24 Cogan, 426.
25 Ryan, 69-76.
26 With regards the importance of tactical details on the ground in any ambitious military strategy, we should be mindful of the verse:
For want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost
For want of a horse, the rider was lost
For want of a rider, the battle was lost
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost!
27 Beckwith, 282.
28 From a course lecture by Prof. Stephen Krasner, Stanford University, for course titled “International Politics,” Autumn 1999.
29 Col. (Ret.) James H. Kyle with John Robert Eidson, The Guts to Try: The Untold Story of the Iran Hostage Rescue Mission By the On-Scene Desert Commander (New York: Orion Books, 1990), 335.
30 Kyle, 292.
31 Herek et al, 205.
32 Ryan, 70.
Beckwith, Colonel (Ret.) Charlie, and Donald Knox, Delta Force (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983).
Cogan, Charles G. “Not to Offend: Observations on Iran, the Hostages, and the Hostage Rescue Mission Ten Years Later.” Comparative Strategy Vol. 9, 1990.
George, Alexander. “Some Possible (and Possibly Dangerous) Malfunctions of the Advisory Process,” Article used in class Political Science 139B: Foreign Policy Decision Making (Barry O’Neill), Autumn 1999.
Herek, Gregory M., Irving L. Janis and Paul Huth, “Decision-Making During International Crises: Is Quality of Process Related to Outcome?” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 31 No. 2, June 1987.
Huntington, Samuel P. The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1957).
Kyle, Col. (Ret.) James H., and John Robert Eidson. The Guts to Try: The Untold Story of the Iran Hostage Rescue Mission By the On-Scene Desert Commander, (New York: Orion Books, 1990).
McRaven, William H. Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice (San Marin: Presidio Press, 1996).
Posen, Barry. The Sources of Military Doctrine (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984).
Rosenzweig, Philip M. “Judgment in Organizational Decision-Making: The Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission,” 1993.
Ryan, Paul B. The Iranian Rescue Mission: Why It Failed (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1985).
Sick, Gary “Military Constraints and Options” in Paul H. Kreisberg (ed) American Hostages in Iran: The Conduct Of A Crisis (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).
Smith, Steve. “Groupthink and the Hostage Rescue Mission.” British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 15 No. 1, 1984.
LTA Chua Lu Fong is a naval combat officer in the RSN. He has completed training tours as an Additional Officer (AO) onboard a Missile Corvette (MC) and a Patrol Vessel (PV), and is currently attending the 26th Naval Junior Officer Course (NJOC). He graduated from Stanford University (USA) in 2000, with a BA (with Distinction) in Economics; and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) in 2001, with an MS in Political Science (Security Studies).