#Monday Musings: Jason Criss Howk

“Monday Musings” are designed to get quick, insightful thoughts based around three questions from those interested in strategy, from the most experienced and lauded, to our newest thinkers/writers.

1 — Who had the greatest impact on you intellectually (whether through writing, mentorship, etc.)?

Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry was my boss — and a Major General — when I was a 1LT and greatly impacted my thinking and career choices. He took the time to mentor me, his Aide De Camp, every day for a year in Kabul about strategy, diplomacy, intelligence operations, writing, and networking. I became a Foreign Area Officer because of his example and mentorship. He invited me to every meeting and let me hear and see how international policy and national strategy were crafted in numerous capitals. It was basically a hands-on Masters Degree in International Relations wrapped up in a tour in Afghanistan. His mentorship continues to this day and serves as an example of what a leader is supposed to do — build the bench and work themselves out of a job.

2 — What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?

Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India 1942–45. Field Marshal Viscount Slim (UK Army)

This work, written in 1956, highlights the way a strategic thinker can assume command of a large retreating and battered multi-national army; assess its capability; transform it into a lethal professional army; and lead it to hand the Japanese its most crushing defeat on land. He was implementing a “Team of Teams” approach to warfare and leadership.

3 — What do you want your legacy to be?

That I spoke (and sought) brutally honest and necessary truth to/from my colleagues (superiors, peers, and team-mates) because there is nothing personal in national security; it’s all business and war doesn’t tolerate laziness nor short-sighted ideas. That I learned more from being a mentor than I probably ever taught anyone, but I cared. That I went when I was called and did the best I could.

Jason, an author, speaker, and mentor to young adults; spent 24 years in the Army on Joint, Interagency, and Multi-National teams conducting military, diplomatic, and intelligence missions. He holds a Masters Degree in Middle East Studies, is a Malone Fellow in Arab and Islamic Studies and a former term-member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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