Experience, Background, and Education

US Special Forces
US Special Forces
US Special Forces

By leveraging two challenging careers in the US Military and United Nations (UN), often in senior postings, Bob carved out a niche as an author, commentator, consultant, and international speaker on a wide array of diverse topics, including Leadership, Wisdom, US Military Affairs and Foreign Policy, Terrorism, the United Nations, Writing and Authorship. He has given multiple in-person and virtual speeches and presentations before professional, diplomatic, and academic audiences at the World Affairs Conference (St. Petersburg, Florida), the Netherlands Atlantic Council (The Hague, Holland); Special Forces Association (Pentagon Chapter); Temple University (Rome, Italy); George Washington University (Washington, DC), European University Institute (Florence, Italy); the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (Honolulu, Hawaii); the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Vienna, Austria); United Nations (Beirut, Lebanon / Brindisi, Italy / Vienna, Austria / Bangkok, Thailand); Middle East Telecommunications Conference (Alexandria, Egypt); New York University (Manhattan & Abu Dhabi); European Union (Cairo, Egypt); Fox Connor Society (Army-Navy Club), Washington, DC; John Cabot and Luiss Universities (Rome, Italy); Mercy College (New York City, New York), St. Peter’s University (Jersey City, New Jersey); UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (Amman, Jordan); Habitat for Humanity International (Beirut, Lebanon); Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana); University of Pavia (Pavia, Italy); and more.


The eldest child in a large poor family, he spent twenty-six years in an extraordinarily eclectic military career, serving in various Special Forces, Military Intelligence, Psychological Operations, Civil Affairs, and Foreign Area Officer assignments in the US and overseas. Bob, who began his career as an enlisted soldier in the Infantry, retired as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel. He commanded units successfully in both Special Forces and Military Intelligence, later serving with the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, where he became the primary author and architect of the Functional Area 39 Program for Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs officer personnel specialties. Furthermore, and while still in uniform, he volunteered for UN peacekeeping missions in Egypt & Israel, Cambodia, as well as Iraq & Kuwait. In Cambodia, Bob proposed and then created the first-ever UN peacekeeping civic action cell in support of humanitarian action. Late in his military career, one of his proudest moments came when chosen from a group of multiple candidates for difficult and demanding service with the US Joint Special Operations Command.


Following his retirement from active military service, Bob became a Policy Advisor to the Bosnian Ministry of Defense in Sarajevo in the wake of the Balkan Wars, authoring the Defense Planning Guidance and Army Plan: both keystone national security documents. The position often required diplomatic skills, when conducting difficult and sensitive negotiations between the former combatant parties of Bosnian Muslims, Roman Catholic Croats, and Orthodox Christian Serbs.


He later began a second career in the UN, rising to the senior rank of Chief Security Advisor. His assignments included Sierra Leone, Yemen, Iraq, Ethiopia, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Indonesia, and UN Headquarters in New York as Chief of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Desk – competitively selected from over 1,000 global candidates. In the headquarters posting, he provided technical supervision, oversight, and support to sixteen regional country offices during the “Arab Awakening” – responsible for aiding in the evacuations of five countries; conducting security activities in Libya during the NATO bombing; and directly supporting downrange operations in war-torn Iraq, and pre-conflict Syria & Yemen. During his tenure, the MENA Desk facilitated the conduct of more successful emergency operations than at any other time in UN history. While in West Africa, he was directly responsible for the successful evacuation of over 200 civil peacekeeping staff from Freetown, Sierra Leone just ahead of invading Revolutionary United Front guerrillas.


A specialist in Middle East affairs, he has either lived-in or visited every country in the Arab world, while achieving the unusual trifecta of having supported counter-terrorism activities in the US Special Operations Community; conducted anti-terrorism measures in the UN; and became himself a victim & survivor of terrorism in a Jihadist vehicular suicide bombing attack in Baghdad, Iraq that resulted in the tragic deaths of twenty-two and over one-hundred and fifty wounded. Bob cautioned senior UN management in New York and Iraq on multiple occasions that the assault was not only possible, but probable. His many formal written and verbal warnings were often discounted as “over-stating the threat.” He was singularly responsible for supervising the conduct of life-saving activities in the immediate aftermath of that attack.


Based on his first 4 years of arduous and hazardous UN civil service, he published a well-reviewed book entitled, “Surviving the United Nations: The Unexpected Challenge,” which, according to his publisher, is their number one best-seller since its release in 2020. The appendix of that work contains the satirically entitled “Bob’s Laws,” which are a collection of his twenty-one observations on humanity and represent a decades-long attempt to capture some small degree of wisdom.


In 1982, he wrote and published his first article in Military Intelligence Magazine. Some of his subsequent works became required reading at the Army’s senior service colleges and branch schools. They have appeared in Parameters, Military Review, The Drop, Navy Times, Special Warfare, Joint Force Quarterly, Marine Corps Times, Naval Institute Proceedings, Army Magazine, Phnom Penh Post (Cambodia), Chicago Tribune, Infantry Magazine, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Special Forces (Great Britain), Air Force Times, Atlantic Perspectives Magazine (Holland), et. al. Because of his writings on leadership, and while serving at the grade of major, he was specially selected as a reviewer for the then draft version of the senior leadership manual for colonels and flag officers by the staff of the US Army’s War College. His analysis of that effort was subsequently published in Army Times.


Years later, he penned the commentary series “Dispatch from Rome” for the Military Times and still later became a frequent guest columnist for the Tampa Bay Times and Atlantic Perspectives Magazine (Holland). Several of his more recent articles were re-published in or by the Associated Press, Center for Inquiry, Ethics and Psychology, Press Break, The Early Bird, Small Wars Journal, Day/day News (Singapore), Newsbreak.com, The Drop, Media Matters, National Security News and Commentary, GlobalSecurity.org, Environmentalists Against War, Pressreader, Amazon News, JSTOR (Digital Library), Special Forces Charitable Trust, Bevara Alliansfriheten (Sweden), Boston University/Course Hero, ukrainecrisis.org, democraticunderground.com, Marine Corps Gazette, Specialforcesnews.com, Ground News, SOF.X, and more. He has also been quoted by Yahoo News 360, along-side Max Boot of the Washington Post and Anne Applebaum of the Atlantic.


A qualified Military Strategist, he holds master’s degrees in both International Affairs and US National Security Studies and Strategy. The US Special Operations Command sponsored his second graduate thesis entitled, “The Strategic Rationale for Special Operations Forces Employment.” Four chapters of that work were subsequently published in Military Review and Special Warfare. He is a graduate of several US and foreign military schools, including the US Army Command & General and Armed Forces Staff Colleges, Special Forces, Ranger, Foreign Area Officer, Counterintelligence Special Agent, Psychological Operations, Special Operations Combat Diver, Assault Climber, Parachute Jump Master, Belgium Commando, and Danish Combat Swimmer. Moreover, he completed many UN security related courses of instruction, including the UK’s Scotland Yard Hostage Incident Management program – subsequently consulting successfully on over a dozen international kidnappings in West Africa and the Middle East, where, in the latter case, his historical research efforts led to finding the key to the safe return of hostages in the hazardous context of tribal Yemen.


New York Times best-selling author Robert Kaplan mentioned Bob prominently in his book, “Imperial Grunts.” The former US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, quotes him often in her book “Chasing the Flame.” A charter member of Special Forces Branch, he is also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Association of the US Army, Disabled American Veterans Organization, Military Officers Association of America, American Legion, and Special Forces Association. Because of his life-long love of teaching, he sought-out adjunct faculty positions at American institutions of higher learning: instructing courses in Foreign Affairs, US Government, World Politics, and American History.


Between his military and UN careers, he returned to the classroom as a student to better understand the tragically all-too-common reprehensible crime of rape. He subsequently researched, developed, and presented dozens of well received rape prevention seminars in both the US and overseas to multi-national at-risk female audiences.


In 2018, Bob twice served as Security Consultant to Habitat for Humanity International in Beirut, Lebanon, providing formal threat identification, risk analysis, and mitigation recommendations, as well as a full day of classes to both staff and management. More recently, and as a Senior Security Expert, he supervised a multi-national team in the conduct of a security risk assessment mission in war-torn Ukraine, while in service to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In 2023, he accomplished a two-month-long UN security consultancy in Azerbaijan, site of the Nagorno-Karabakh War. He was inducted into the Who’s Who in America biographical registry in 2023.


Following the publication of his book, he was invited to appear in podcast format by The Team House, Litvak on Leadership, Author’s Bridge (Holland), and Kuinua Coaching (UK), which are all on YouTube. Every interviewer requested his return. Bob was also interviewed by Italian National Public Radio upon his return from Kyiv. Additionally, he was interviewed by BBC-London’s “Radio 4” and BBC-Scotland’s “The Nine” live TV broadcast on matters relating to the Israel-Hamas War in November 2023. In the last decade, he has resided in Indonesia, Thailand, Italy, Egypt, and Mexico. His unusual career arcs resulted in his living in sixteen different countries on four continents. He is currently working on a book. Bob is married to Doctor (PhD) Naima H. Adolph.