A DIME Analysis of the Max Pressure Campaign: Hits, Misses, and Future Opportunities for Success
By Captain Robert T. Bibeau, U.S. Navy; Captain Colin P. Day, U.S. Navy; Colonel Seth D. Krummrich, U.S. Army; and Colonel Dustin C. Richards, U.S. Air Force
Editor's Note: This team thesis won the FAO Association writing award and the Joint and Combined Warfighting School, Joint Forces Staff College. The Journal is pleased to bring you this outstanding scholarship.
Disclaimer: The contents of this submission reflect our writing team’s original views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Joint Forces Staff College or the Department of Defense.
The relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran is a complicated one stretching nearly seven decades into the past. The roots of the present tensions stem from actions taken by both nations, resulting in distrust and unintended consequences. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 resulted in two decades of acrimonious relations, which showed signs of thawing in the late 1990’s as the United States admitted their role in the 1953 overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister. In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, communication lines were opened to facilitate the defeat of the Taliban. Unfortunately, Iran’s continued malign behavior resulted in President George W. Bush including Iran with Iraq and North Korea as part of an “Axis of Evil” in 2002, which ushered in a renewed era of mistrust. This period lasted until 2013, when the election of President Hassan Rouhani led to a period of diplomatic engagement resulting in a Joint Interim Agreement that gave Iran a measure of relief from sanctions in exchange for a reduction in efforts to become a nuclear armed nation. This agreement set the stage for the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which entailed significant sanction relief in return for the verifiable rollback of Iran’s nuclear program.
The signing of the JCPOA represented the high point for U.S.-Iran relations in the recent past. President Donald Trump made the agreement a focal point of his campaign’s foreign policy approach and withdrew from the agreement in 2018 on the grounds that Iran was not adhering to its mandates. In its place his administration instituted a campaign of “maximum pressure”, intended to utilize economic sanctions to bring Iran back to the negotiating table to achieve a more favorable agreement. This prompted a period of escalatory action back and forth between the two nations, including the United States designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terror organization, Iranian attributed attacks on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz, U.S. troop deployments to bolster forces in the region, the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone, and finally the attacks on Saudi oil fields in September 2019. These attacks, which were followed shortly afterward by violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, prompted the execution of a drone strike to eliminate the commander of the IRGC’s Qods force, Qasem Soleimani, in early 2020.
The Maximum Pressure Campaign (MPC) has garnered much commentary from both sides of the political aisle and from experts with widely disparate backgrounds. This paper will assess the MPC through a strategic lens consisting of the Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic (DIME) instruments of national power. It will highlight strengths and weaknesses of the implementation of each and offer suggestions for better efficacy in the future. Finally, it will conclude with a look at the future and possible results of either continuing on the present course or implementing some aspect of policy reform.
Diplomacy is the cornerstone of the MPC. The United States works primarily through diplomatic channels to confront Iran’s malign behavior. According to Secretary Pompeo’s statement on May 21, 2018, the goal is to reach a “deal with Iran that comprehensively addresses the regime’s destabilizing behavior – not just their nuclear program, but also their missile program, support to terrorism, and malign regional behavior. Sanctions relief, the reestablishment of full diplomatic and commercial relations with the United States, and U.S. economic cooperation can only begin when we see that the regime is serious about changing its behavior.”
The United States developed twelve requirements through collaborative dialogue with its European and Middle Eastern allies to clearly outline what Iran must do to resume normalized international relations. They are simple and easy to accomplish as they represent international rules and norms. If enacted, the twelve requirements allow Iran to integrate with the world though diplomatic means, while ceasing acts of violence, extortion, and terror. The United States cannot shape Iran’s malign behavior alone. While the ends of the MPC are U.S.-centric, the United States will require the cooperation of all of its Allies to shape Iran’s behavior, comply with international norms, and bring her back to acceptable international relations. The strength of the MPC lies in its clarity and unity of action.
The U.S. Department of State (DoS) leads the effort to build and synchronize the MPC. The U.S. interagency, allies, and partners are in support. The strength of the United States is its ability to build coalitions to create change. The assembled maximum pressure coalition creates a synchronized global framework of allies and partners to enforce the shaping efforts to change Iranian behavior. The coalition provides support across the DIME spectrum ranging from enforcing sanctions, supporting embargos, providing military forces to maintain open maritime lines of communications, intelligence sharing, and political pressure in the United Nations (UN) and other international collaborating bodies.
Diplomatic efforts at the UN and with international partners are the main avenues for engagement. Sometimes the efforts to shape Iran’s behavior clash with existing measures. Over the objection of the U.S., the decade old UN arms embargo against Iran expired in October 2020 per the provisions of the JCPOA. While there is no expectation of Iran buying large amounts of weapons due to crippling U.S. sanctions, Secretary Pompeo noted that the U.S. would use its domestic sanction capabilities to prevent Iran from procuring addition weapons. He stated, “The United States is prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran, as well as those who provide technical training, financial support and services, and other assistance related to these arms.” This provides the U.S. a scalable ability to slap sanctions and embargos on individuals, companies, or states that support Iranian arms procurement.
Additionally, the recent U.S. designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is a historic step to counter Iran-backed terrorism around the world. Economic and travel sanctions on the IRGC mean any group or individual that does business with the IRGC could face criminal prosecution for providing material support to a terrorist organization. As Secretary Pompeo noted, "Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct transactions are not connected to the IRGC in any material way."
Besides enforcement actions to drive Iran to accomplish the twelve requirements, there are other unique opportunities that further isolate Iran. The Abraham Accord represents a historic turning point in Middle Eastern History. The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s normalization of relations with Israel re-wrote Middle Eastern politics and strengthens the anti-Iranian coalition in the Gulf. Other countries likely to follow UAE’s lead include Oman and Sudan in the short term, and Qatar and other Gulf countries in the future. To quote Middle Eastern expert Thomas Freidman, “It’s a geopolitical earthquake… The big geopolitical losers are Iran and all of its proxies: Hezbollah, the Iraqi militias, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Turkey and the Houthis in Yemen.” Innovative diplomatic endeavors like the Abraham Accords are the critical means required for the MPC to succeed.
Assessing the diplomatic impact of the maximum pressure campaign is difficult. While Iran’s economy reels from the crushing sanctions and COVID-19’s devastating effect on population, the Iranian leadership still runs Iran, defiant as ever. Their malign behavior has not changed significantly. The expired UN arms embargo has exposed cracks in the U.S. coalition, forcing it to threaten those who might sell arms to Iran, potentially current partners. The best hope for success with Iran lies with creating diplomatic strategies like the Abraham Accord. With other Gulf countries moving toward similar relationships with Israel, Iran finds itself further isolated and irrelevant. Emphasis on these diplomatic endeavors are the best way to get Iran to accept the twelve requirements and normalize relationships with the U.S. and their allies.
The information environment is the daily battleground between Iran and the United States and its allies and partners. The Department of State designated the information campaign as one of the three multi-prong avenues to change Iranian behavior. The focus is to “expose the regime’s corrupt monopolies, malign activities, crooked self-dealings, and outright oppression and engage with the Iranian diaspora around the world.” Iran uses cyberespionage, propaganda, and attacks to influence events, shape foreign perceptions, and illegally obtain intellectual property. Iran’s cyber activity undermines international norms and threatens access to an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet. As outlined in the twelve requirements, this behavior must cease if relations with the U.S. and its allies are to normalize.
Iran uses U.S.-based information platforms to spread their disinformation and conduct cyber-attacks. To counter these attacks, the U.S. Government leverages its commercial partners to target information sources spreading false narratives. In August 2018, Facebook, Twitter, and other U.S. companies reported the removal of more than 1,000 pages, groups, and accounts they assessed were engaged in spreading disinformation on behalf of the regime. On Facebook alone, more than 600 pages were removed, targeting users in the U.S., UK, Middle East and Latin America. In May 2020, Facebook dismantled another network of over 500 accounts spreading disinformation that were connected to the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
Internal to Iran, the DoS uses information operations to engage the Iranian population highlighting the maleficence of the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime utilizes its cyber capabilities to deny Iranians unrestricted access to the internet, including by blocking access to social media sites and applications. It funds a massive online censorship apparatus and restricts access to satellite services. The United States has taken a number of steps in the past several years to help Iranians bypass internet censorship. In support of that interest, the Treasury Department has authorized the provision of a wide range of personal communications software and services to Iranians. The DoS estimates that tens of thousands of Iranians are using censorship circumvention tools facilitated by the U.S. or our partners—even during the shutdown. Additionally, President Trump’s tweets directed to the Iranian people are translated into Farsi.
External to Iran, the U.S. and its allies highlight Iran’s malign behavior. Using Europe as an example, European countries routinely highlight Iranian malfeasance in the information environment as a way to amplify their actions against the Iranian regime. In the last three years, our allies have highlighted the expulsion of Iranian diplomats, murders of their citizens by Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents, and uncovered bomb plots directed by MOIS and Qods Force. This leaves Iran fighting against an overwhelming majority in the information environment.
Iran uses cyber-attacks to further their ends of damaging the U.S. and its partner’s governments and commercial interests. Leading up to the 2020 Presidential election, Iran targeted Democratic voters in battleground states to shape the U.S. election in Iran’s favor. To counter the message, the U.S. highlighted this attack in the worldwide news demonstrating Iran’s continual malign behaviors.
Assessing the MPC’s performance in the information environment is a constant process. The U.S. and its allies counter Iranian narratives and amplify counter-regime messages daily. The U.S. tracks how Iranian-centric messages circulate, penetrate, and permeate within the Iranian population and outside of Iran. The U.S. and its partners must continue to aggressively compete in the information environment, leveraging their commercial partners, as it is the global cognitive space. Collectively, the coalition can dominate the information environment and dismantle the Iranian disinformation machine.
The military instrument of national power has a largely supporting role to economic, diplomatic, and informational efforts regarding Iran. The military ways and means to support the MPC were poorly defined and not fully in place when the U.S. initially withdrew from the JCPOA. The assumed role of U.S. military forces in the region with respect to Iran was to continue operations as normal, deterring or defeating Iranian aggression as required, but with no noticeable preemptive increase in military posture or resources. U.S. military response to Iranian aggression was reactive, ceding the initiative to Iran and emboldening them through the delayed increase in U.S. military presence in the region and failure to respond promptly to early Iranian aggression. In retrospect, Iran’s asymmetric military response was unsurprising given their history of un-attributable irregular warfare, interference with shipping transiting the Strait of Hormuz, and support of proxies pursuing anti-U.S. aims throughout the Middle East, including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen.
The Iranian response to the U.S. “maximum pressure” strategy was aligned with historical norms. On June 13, 2019, Iran attacked a Japanese petrochemical tanker Kokaku Courageous and the Norwegian tanker Front Alair using limpet mines. A week later, Iran shot down a U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk operating in international airspace. On July 20, 2019, the Iranians seized the British tanker Stena Impero, two weeks after an Iranian tanker was seized by the United Kingdom off Gibraltar for allegedly violating European Union sanctions on Syria. On September 14, 2019, Iran attacked critical oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia with over 20 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and missiles, shutting down over five percent of global oil production. On December 27, 2019, the Iranian-backed group Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) conducted a rocket attack on a base near Kirkuk in Northern Iraq, killing a U.S. contractor and wounding four U.S. service members. In response to the increasing violence, the U.S. conducted an air strike at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020, killing Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force, and Abu Mahdi Muhandis, deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)., U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien stated that the strike was conducted to “restore deterrence against Iran that had apparently eroded from the U.S. refusal to respond to Iran’s prior provocations.” In response to Soleimani’s death, Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against U.S. forces at air bases in Erbil and Al Asad, Iraq, on January 8. Missile attacks against the U.S. military, allegedly conducted by the Iranian-backed KH, continued throughout the spring of 2020.
The U.S. failed to foresee and plan for this uptick in Iranian-sponsored asymmetric warfare, and therefore had to increase force posture in the region reactively as events occurred. In May 2019, approximately one year after the U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA, the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) was diverted from planned operations in the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Oman, where it remained until relieved by the Harry S. Truman CSG in December 2019, extending a planned seven month deployment by three months. Concurrent with this move, the U.S. deployed an additional 900 personnel to the region and extended the deployment of 600 personnel maintaining and operating Patriot missile systems. Further unplanned increases in military presence occurred throughout the year, ultimately including deployment of the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia and a battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division to Baghdad. Additionally, in May 2019 the U.S. approved more than $8 billion in arms sales, including precision guided munitions, to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in order to “deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East.” In November 2019, the U.S. assembled the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), a coalition of Gulf and other allied states “to conduct Gulf maritime security operations to deter further Iranian attacks.”
Additionally, the U.S. maintains long-standing military relationships in the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR), cooperating with regional nations to pressure Iranian proxies. Persistent military engagements with countries like Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, and Lebanon (to name a few) support the DoS’s larger regional diplomatic approach. These military-to-military engagements include routine training events, intelligence sharing for awareness, combat advisement, and material support. The range goes from a Special Forces team in their fifteenth year of steady engagement in Lebanon to military sales, operational support and intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia and UAE as they fight the Iranian backed Houthis in Yemen. These relationships were in place long before the U.S. began the MPC, and remain useful with our current strategy.
The increase in U.S. forces in the region, augmented arms sales to partners, and the formation of the IMSC came as responses to Iranian actions, all well over a year after the U.S. declared the MPC. Clearly, the “means” to affect the military component of the MPC were not made available in a timely manner to deter what should have been predictable escalation from Iran. Failure to initially set an adequate force posture in the region, as well as to visibly respond to the Global Hawk shootdown, emboldened Iran and required deliberate effort, in the words of the administration, to “restore deterrence.” The unplanned and last-minute diversion of military forces to the USCENTCOM AOR throughout 2019 posed an opportunity cost on other stated goals of the National Security Strategy including addressing the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific region and Russia’s attempts to restore great power status, as forces were instead sent to the USCENTCOM AOR.
Moving forward, the U.S. must continue to forecast likely Iranian military actions and posture sufficient forces in the region in adequate time to deter them. Accounting as early as practical for the military ways and means to achieve the desired end state will better enable leaders to plan force readiness requirements, balance competing worldwide priorities, and make deliberate tradeoffs instead of responding to developing crises. In the end, the U.S. clearly possesses the military ways and means to preserve the status quo in the Arabian Gulf, deterring or minimizing the effects of Iranian aggression while buying time for the economic, diplomatic, and informational instruments of power to work. However, this military presence comes at a cost to U.S. goals elsewhere in the world, and will only pay dividends if the other instruments of national power are effective at curbing Iran’s nuclear aspirations.
The United States implements the economic instrument of power against Iran primarily through economic sanctions, embargoes, and freezing of funds, either against Iranian government or commercial interests directly or against nations, companies, or individuals that conduct prohibited business with Iran. Significant international efforts began under the auspices of the UN Security Council in 2006, prompted by concern over Iran’s production and proliferation nuclear weapons materials. This resolution, and others that followed, were legally binding on Iran as a charter member of the UN. The ability to impose and enforce all sanctions rests primarily with the U.S. and secondarily with the European Union (EU) member states due to economic size and the dollar’s status as the currency of choice for global trade.
Sanction efforts were amended and expanded until the completion of the JCPOA and international endorsement via UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, which lifted all international sanctions, as well as most U.S. and EU sanctions. This was contingent on Iran meeting all nuclear weapons material conditions of the JCPOA. Some measures, specifically UN and EU arms embargoes and sanctions against the Iranian missile program, remain in place pending Iran’s continued compliance.
In May 2018, President Trump unilaterally left the JCPOA and reimposed U.S. sanctions on the Iranian energy industry, citing prolonged and ongoing efforts by Iran to build nuclear weapons and support violent extremist organizations (VEOs), target U.S. interests, and destabilize the Middle East., Limited waivers to trade oil for humanitarian goods were granted to major countries but not renewed, based on a U.S. promise to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero and thus remove the funding source for nuclear development and malign activities abroad. Iran has stated publicly that it is no longer bound by the JCPOA and will continue nuclear material production in excess of JCPOA limits.
In September 2020, the U.S. invoked the JCPOA formal noncompliance-reporting process to “snap back” UN global sanctions, particularly the UN arms embargo that expired in October 2020. This was viewed by allies and partners with hostility and, given the previous U.S. withdrawal, affected the legitimacy of U.S. actions since the U.S. Congress had failed to vote to sign the JCPOA itself. The future status of international sanctions is ill-defined, barring the UN Security Council finding Iran is willfully noncompliant with UNSCR 2231. This would support large economic centers of gravity such as the EU, China, and India reimposing international sanctions against Iran and countries, including allies and partners, that conducted sanctioned business with Iran. Until this occurs, sanctions reimposition is essentially a U.S. unilateral effort, supported by those nations who either agree with, or do not wish to risk disagreement with, the U.S. position.
The basis for the economic aspect of the MPC appears sound at first glance. Iran skirted the JCPOA from the start with undeclared facilities and supplies related to nuclear weapons production, continued to enrich uranium above JCPOA limits, and applied JCPOA-driven financial resources to increase its operational reach and destabilization efforts in the region through proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. From a strictly economic standpoint, U.S. sanctions have had a crippling effect on the Iranian economy, at least in the short term. Iran’s GDP was negative in 2018 and doubled into the negative in 2019, oil exports in fell 90 percent from the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2019, the Iranian rial devalued by over 50 percent, and annual inflation has risen to above 30 percent. This economic effect is the primary supporting argument in favor of the MPC, as the billions of dollars lost by Iran logically equate to significant loss of funding opportunities for the targeted areas of nuclear development and VEO support unless significant resources are withdrawn from conventional defense spending and/or internal national spending.
From a holistic approach, substantial evidence suggests that economic sanctions may not lead to the significant change the U.S. desires. This includes Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile technology, indigenous development of modern weaponry, and the sustainment of what Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei advocated in 2017 as a “resistance economy.” This statement by Khamenei highlighted what may be the largest strategic factor against U.S. policy towards Iran: that the population of Iran, for whom Secretary of State Pompeo stated the U.S. would tirelessly advocate, possesses a national identity and demographic structure that supports struggling against a superpower imposing austerity upon them in hopes of a groundswell against the nation’s rulers.
Iran’s median age is 31.7 years, and approximately 70 percent of the country’s 85 million people were born after the country’s 1979 revolution and violent establishment of an anti-U.S. regime. Thus, the vast majority of the populace has existed, since birth, in an environment dominated by a national struggle against western or western-supported regimes who oppose their nation’s fundamentalist, revolutionary values as narrated by a ruling class of hardline clerics. During this time, Iran has experienced no internally or externally induced regime change, which has made it simpler for Iranian leaders to consistently label the U.S. as a bullying adversary, and to exploit small gains internally in the information domain. These events include the 2011 capture of an RQ-170 surveillance aircraft, the 2016 capture of two U.S. Navy patrol boats, and the aforementioned 2019 shootdown of an RQ-4 aircraft. The effectiveness of Iran’s story of continuous “national struggle” against the U.S. supports their positions and propaganda to their populace that Iran is an oppressed country, and that the U.S. must remove any sanctions before Iran will reenter multilateral negotiations to restart the JCPOA or come to a new agreement.
Iran has also continued, during essentially all periods of sanctions, to strengthen its regional position through internal development of its military, work to enhance its economic resilience, and the support of proxies throughout the region. The latter has indeed been affected dramatically by the effects of sanctions which, coupled with the effects on international trade and transportation from the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen Iranian funding of proxies in Iraq drop by almost half. While this would appear to demonstrably support a desired outcome of the MPC, it remains to be seen what will happen in the long term with the international community’s desire, particularly that of the EU member states, to reimpose all international sanctions from a U.S.-declared noncompliance with UNSCR 2231—and if the effects would be sufficient for the Iranian people to take popular action against the ruling clerics.
The assumption that U.S.-only economic sanctions will provide long-term success is not currently supported by available evidence, and the U.S. should aim to achieve sanctions-based economic objectives through the combined economic power of as many international partners as possible. Enforcing the terms of the JCPOA, while adding additional international measures to counter belligerent Iranian activity not covered by the JCPOA, is a course of action that should be exhausted prior to unilateral action, either economically or militarily. The key point is that, if changing the motives and actions of the Iranian regime is the end objective, the U.S. and any partners it recruits must not be seen as the sole source of hardship to the Iranian people. Strict enforcement of widely-accepted international and legally-binding agreements demonstrates that change in Iran remains the consensus objective on the world stage, and that the root cause of any hardship experienced by the Iranian people is solely due to their leaders’ decisions to buck international consensus.
Iranians must be convinced that their rulers’ motives are in opposition to their own populace’s best interests, not just international norms. Furthermore, attempting to drive change in Iran without partners and allies is not aligned with the primary, broader U.S. national strategy to deter our primary competitors, Russia and China. Both of these nations were signatories to the JCPOA, are internationally bound to enforce its provisions, and would gladly watch the U.S. divert more resources towards countering Iran instead of them.
This paper has clearly demonstrated that the United States is attempting to effectively utilize the DIME instruments of national power, but is failing to execute a successful strategy. The MPC does have some sound elements, including use of the military instrument in a supporting role and maintaining the threat of overwhelming economic sanctions, both on the Iranian regime and those who would do business with it. Unfortunately, by withdrawing from the JCPOA and applying the MPC without an international consensus on Iranian noncompliance, the United States ceded the high ground in the information space. It further exacerbated the situation by alienating partners and allies who are critical to ensuring efficacy of any efforts to change Iran’s behavior through economic coercion. In order to regain a path to success, the winner of the 2020 election should conduct a clear-eyed assessment of what is achievable in the current strategic environment while maximizing the impacts of partners and allies in a multinational or international approach. Even reentering the JCPOA as written may be acceptable if accompanied by a redoubled focus on verification of Iranian compliance and insistence on a return to the 2015 status quo for relaxation of sanctions. Successful modification of Iranian behavior will depend on a comprehensive and complimentary implementation of all four instruments of national power.
About the Authors:
Captain Robert Bibeau is currently serving as Commanding Officer of USS San Antonio (LPD 17). He was commissioned at the United States Naval Academy in 1997. He earned a BS in Aerospace and Systems Engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 1997, an MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997, and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College in 2008. Prior to his current assignment, Captain Bibeau served as Executive Officer of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
Captain Colin Day is currently serving as Naval Air Force Atlantic Assistant Chief of Staff for Aircraft Carrier Requirements. He was commissioned at the United States Naval Academy in 1996. Captain earned a BS in Physics from the United States Naval Academy in 1996 and an MBA from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2005. Prior to his current assignment, he served as Commanding Officer of USS LEWIS B. PULLER (ESB 3) Blue.
Colonel Seth Krummrich is currently serving as Chief of Staff, Special Operations Command Central, in Tampa, Florida. He was commissioned through ROTC at Tulane University in 1994. Colonel Krummrich earned a BA in Latin American Studies from Tulane University in 1994 and an MS in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2007. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the Fort Irwin / National Training Center Garrison Commander.
Colonel Dustin Richards is currently serving as Chief of Staff, Joint Staff Logistics Directorate, J-4, in the Pentagon. He was commissioned through ROTC at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2001. He earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Rose-Hulman in 2001 and an MS in Engineer Management from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 2005. Prior to his current assignment, Colonel Richards was a National Defense Fellow at the Atlantic Council.