Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Burkett, a Center for Homeland Defense and Security Master’s Program alumnus from one of our institution’s earliest cohorts, finished off a 30-plus-year military career late last year that saw him vault up through the leadership ranks from an Air Force Captain to Major General in two decades.
Burkett, who credits CHDS with enhancing the critical thinking tools to help him succeed as a military commander and senior military officer, said his career stands as a testament to the opportunities available in our nation’s armed services and advanced educational system.
“For a Captain who left active duty in 2000, it’s pretty remarkable I made General Officer,” he said. “CHDS helped with that [success].”
Burkett retired in December 2021 as the Deputy Director of the Joint Force Development and Design Center at the Joint Staff J-7 where he provided leadership and oversight for U.S. joint warfighting development to include joint doctrine, education, future concepts, wargaming and experimentation, and international ally and partner development.
“The J-7 was a unique assignment because it allowed me to drive critical learning with analytical events involving global stakeholders, sensitive programs, and deliver wargames stimulating senior-level joint thinking,” he said. “It also afforded the opportunity to integrate joint military education with service talent management programs to improve officer utilization and transform joint military education policy to an outcomes-based model. Additionally, as the Chair of the Multinational Capability Development Campaign comprised of 23 nations, the EU, and NATO, we delivered 12 projects ranging from global integrated logistics to countering hybrid warfare which now are paying dividends with the conflict in Europe.”
After coming back from a short vacation in the summer of 2021, Burkett decided to retire and refocus on his family and his professional passion—homeland security and emergency management. Since then, he moved back to Colorado and founded Federal Logic, which he describes as a platform to deliver business consulting and advisory services to a broad range of organizations in the emergency management, national security, defense, and technology sectors. He describes himself as a “homeland security and emergency management professional who has a deep understanding of emerging technologies, global trends, and homeland security issues.”
Growing up as an Air Force brat, Burkett recalls having to shelter in place for Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the terrorist bombing at Ramstein Air Base. After commissioning through ROTC at Virginia Tech, Burkett spent a decade flying on active duty and holding various positions at the squadron and group level to include commanding the Prime Nuclear Airlift Force.
In 2000, Burkett left the Air Force and joined an internet start-up while also serving part-time in the Air National Guard. After two combat deployments in less than two years, he decided to apply for a full-time military position and was assigned to U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) where he spent time in the Canada-U.S. Bi-National Planning Group developing strategic defense policy and as a National Guard advisor.
It was at NORTHCOM that Burkett said he became “laser focused” on homeland security, emergency management, and our nation’s ability to withstand the emerging threats of the 21st century and applied to CHDS.
Burkett said he was surprised when he was selected by the command for the CHDS Master’s program in 2004, noting their tremendous talent pool. Thankful for the selection, he describes his CHDS experience as “profound” and “pivotal,” and said he “thoroughly enjoyed the Master’s Program.” In particular, he treasured learning from his classmates like Joe Pfeiffer, Cathy Lanier, G.B. Jones, among others in his cohort, because they had diverse operational experience, a shared passion for our security, and recognized the evolving nature of the threat.
“CHDS is hands-down the premier homeland security (Master’s) program in the nation,” he said, pointing to the “top-notch faculty, stunning campus” at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and “career-friendly format.”
“Academically, CHDS provides a solid understanding of our strategic homeland challenges and the diversity of my cohort … contextualized the issues with developing sound policies, programs, and plans,” Burkett said. “Your classmates are the best of the best from across the nation and the relationships are invaluable in solving your organization or agency’s problems. The program also reinforced how to critically think about complex problems which contributed to my success as a military commander and senior military officer.”
He credits the inspiration of his Air War College master’s thesis on dual-status command and control, and its subsequent adoption into law and practice, to many of the lessons learned while at CHDS.
Graduating from CHDS in 2005, Burkett was the recipient of the institution’s Zimbardo Award, which honors the student who “demonstrates the best understanding of the psychological aspects of terrorism,” and is named after Stanford University psychologist and professor emeritus Philip Zimbardo, a former CHDS instructor.
In addition to his CHDS Master’s degree, Burkett is recognized for academic excellence in two other master’s degree programs and has attended Harvard’s, MIT’s, and Syracuse’s national security executive education programs.
Commissioned in 1990, Burkett rose through the ranks to become a Brigadier General by the age of 47 and has commanded at the Group, Wing, and Joint Task Force level. He is a certified emergency manager, author, and a national security fellow. Prior to his position at Joint Staff J-7, Maj. Gen. Burkett was the Vice Director for the National Guard Bureau’s Domestic Operations Directorate where he was responsible for the National Guard Coordination Center, Counterdrug Program, current/future domestic operations planning, joint exercises, training, and the CBRN Response Enterprise to include Homeland Response Force and the Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team Program.