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Department of Military Instruction : Defense and Strategic Studies Faculty

DSS Faculty

DSS Program Director

COL Collins is a career Special Forces officer, who has served in a variety of special operations assignments and conducted multiple combat operations to Afghanistan and Iraq as well as operational deployments to Bosnia, Africa and South America.  He has graduated from numerous military courses including ranger school and he has earned numerous military awards and decorations including two valorous awards for his actions in combat.  Prior to assuming his current position as the director of the DSS program, Liam served as the Director of West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.  He has taught courses in Counterinsurgency, Comparative Military Systems, Research Methods in Strategic Studies, Homeland Security and Defense, Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Internal Conflict, International Relations, American Politics, and Officership.




Ph.D. Political Science, Princeton University

M.P.A. Public Affairs, Princeton University

B.S. Aerospace Engineering, United States Military Academy

MAJ Paxton is currently the deputy director and officer in charge of recruiting for the Defense and Strategic Studies Department at the United States Military Academy.  He is the course director for DS455, Comparative Military Systems.  He has a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.  He has served in numerous positions in the Army, from Platoon Leader with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade to Company Commander in the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.  He has two deployments to Afghanistan.  MAJ Paxton has also instructed SS307, International Relations, with the Department of Social Sciences.  His areas of academic interest are international affairs, security studies, and environmental resource policy development.



M.A.L.D. The Fletcher School, Tufts University

B.S. Aerospace Engineering, United States Military Academy

DS320, DS497 & DS489
MAJ Jackson is currently the course director for DS320 Landpower, DS497 Strategic Studies Capstone, and DS489 Advanced Individual Studies within the Defense and Strategic Studies program and he is the Deputy Director of the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy.  He holds a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in International Affairs from Georgetown University and a Master of Military Arts and Science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Major Jackson has combat experience spanning the platoon, company, brigade, division, and corps-level during five deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq as an infantry officer and Army Strategist (FA-59). He has also served on the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group and in an interagency fellowship as the Special Advisor for Manufacturing Policy to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. His areas of academic interest are international affairs and security studies. 



M.M.A.S. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

M.A.L.S. International Affairs, Georgetown University

B.A. International Relations, United States Military Academy, West Point


Lionel Beehner recently joined the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as an instructor at its Modern War Institute and teaches courses on military innovation. He is currently finishing his Ph.D. in political science at Yale University and has taught (or helped teach) courses on social movements, revolutions, and political migration. He is formerly a fellow at the Truman National Security Project, a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations, where he also worked as a senior writer for its award-winning website,, and since 2008 has been a member of USA Today's Board of Contributors. He has taught op-ed writing at Mediabistro and consulted a number of international organizations on media relations strategies. He holds an M.A. in international affairs from Columbia University. His dissertation examines the role of "hot pursuit" in international relations and draws on five years of research and fieldwork. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The National Interest, and The New Republic, among other publications. He lives in Tarrytown, NY, with his wife, dog, and two children.



Ph.D. ABD, Political Science, Yale University

M.Phil. Yale University

M.A. International Affairs, Columbia University

B.A. History and International Studies, Holy Cross

DS360, DS460, DS496, DS497

MAJ Ferenzi is the course director for DS360 Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict, an instructor for DS460 Insurgency & Counterinsurgency, and an adviser for DS496 Strategic Studies Thesis and DS497 Strategic Studies Capstone.  He is a Special Forces officer and former Infantry officer with service in the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) and 82nd Airborne Division. He holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a concentration in International Security Policy. Major Ferenzi has special operations and conventional experience spanning Afghanistan, Iraq, and Central Asia to include counterinsurgency during the Surge, Afghan National Army Special Forces advisory, and Village Stability Operations. His areas of academic interest include proxy warfare, irregular armed forces in state formation, and social movements.




M.I.A. International Security Policy, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University

DS460, DS385, DS497

MAJ Lasiter is currently course director for DS460 Insurgency and Counterinsurgency and DS385 Sustaining the Force within the Defense and Strategic Studies program.  As a Multi-functional logistician, he has served in various positions throughout the United States Army from Platoon Leader to Company Commander of a Forward Support Company in an Aviation Brigade. He has served at Company, Battalion and Brigade levels in infantry, Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and Aviation units. MAJ Lasiter has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan on multiple occasions. His academic interests are communication theory, terrorism, insurgency and psychology.




M.S. Defense Analysis – Irregular Warfare, Naval Postgraduate School

M.A. Professional Communication, University of Alaska Fairbank

B.A. English, University of Louisville


CPT Phillips is the course director for DS470 Military Strategy. He earned his Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. CPT Phillips served in various positions within 5/2 SBCT and 3/3 ABCT in Fort Lewis, WA, Fort Benning, GA and Afghanistan. Most recently, CPT Phillips served as the director of the Armor Commandant's strategic initiatives group in Fort Benning, GA. His areas of academic interests are in national security, strategy, and leadership.

M.P.P. Harvard Kennedy School
B.S. Nuclear Engineering, United States Military Academy




CPT Hedtke, an Armor Officer, currently is an instructor for SS307, Introduction to International Relations. He will be the course director for DS 320, Landpower, starting in January of 2015. He is also the class of 2019 DSS department academic counselor. CPT Hedtke previously served as a Troop and Company Commander in 1st Bridage, 4th Infantry Division, and as an instructor at the Army Reconnaissance Course. Isaac earned a Master in Public Affairs degree from the LaFollette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His areas of academic interest include military strategy, foreign policy, and management.




M.P.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison

B.A. Political Science, Loyola University Chicago 


CPT Kimbrell is the course director for DS350 Military Communication. Prior to commissioning, he served in a variety of positions as a Patriot Missile Operator and attained the rank of Sergeant First Class. CPT Kimbrell commissioned as a Signal Officer and has served in numerous positions including Platoon Leader with the 51st Signal Battalion and Company Commander with the 369th Signal Battalion. Curtis earned a Master of Arts degree from The Johns Hopkins University with concentrations in digital and political communication. His areas of academic interest include political communication, strategic communication, and communication theory.




M.A. Communication, Johns Hopkins University

M.A. Information Technology Management, Webster University

B.S. Management Information Systems, Park University