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Department of Military Instruction : Defense and Strategic Studies Faculty

DSS Faculty

DSS Program Director
 
Lieutenant Colonel Liam 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.
 
Education
PhD Political Science, Princeton University
MPA Public Affairs, Princeton University
BS Aerospace Engineering, United States Military Academy

 
DS345 & DS497 Capstone
 
MAJ Heim is currently the deputy director of Defense and Strategic Studies Department in the United States Military Academy.  He has a Master’s degree in International Studies with specialization in Security and European Affairs from North Carolina State University.  He also holds a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Georgia.  He is the course director for DS345 Military Innovation and an instructor for LG203 Basic German Language course.  He has served in numerous positions in the Army from Platoon Leader with 3rd Brigade Combat Team to Company Commander in the 82nd Airborne Division.  He has numerous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  His areas of academic interest are international affairs and security studies.  MAJ Heim is also a recipient of the APGAR Award for teaching excellence in 2013.
 
Education
B.A. Political Science; Columbus State University
M.A. Political Science, University of Georgia
M.A. International Studies, North Carolina State University  
 
DS470 & DS497 Capstone
 
 Major Matt Cavanaugh is a U.S. Army Strategist currently assigned as an Assistant Professor in the Defense & Strategic Studies (DSS) Program teaching at the U.S. Military Academy.   Major Cavanaugh has had assignments ranging from the Pentagon, to U.S. Strategic Command (Missile Defense), to two years in Iraq during the earliest phase of the conflict.  As a scholar, Matt earned his Master’s in Strategic Studies at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and is currently at work on a PhD dissertation on generalship at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.  He is a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations, a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Civil Military Operations, has been published in several peer-reviewed military and academic journals, and is the Editor at WarCouncil.org, a site dedicated to the study of the use of force.  His areas of academic interest are international relations, Generalship, diplomacy in conflict, and technology’s impact on warfare.  He is currently working on his PhD in International Relations through the University of Reading, United Kingdom.  MAJ Cavanaugh is also a recipient of the APGAR award for teaching in 2014.
 
Education:
B.S. American Politics; United States Military Academy (West Point)
M.S.S. Strategic Studies, Victoria University (New Zealand)

  
   
DS360 & DS460
 
MAJ Ford is currently an instructor in the Defense and Strategic Studies Program at the United States Military Academy.  He is the course director for DS360 Special Operation and Low Intensity Conflict and for DS460 Counterinsurgency.  He is a Special Forces officer and has served in numerous leadership positions in the Army, most recently as an Operational Detachment Alpha Team Leader in the 3rd Special Forces Regiment.  He has five deployments to Operation Enduring Freedom and has conducted Foreign Internal Defense and Counterinsurgency operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  His areas of academic interest are guerrilla warfare and impact dehumanization has on irregular warfare.
 
Education:
B.A. Philosophy, Duke University
M.S. Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School
 
 
 
 
 
 
DS320 & DS470
 
 
MAJ Jackson is currently the course director for DS320 Landpower within the Defense and Strategic Studies program 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. 
 
Education:
B.A. International Relations; United States Military Academy, West Point
M.A.L.S. International Affairs: Georgetown University
M.M.A.S.; U.S. Army Command and General Staff College 

 
  
 
Paxton.jpg
DS455 & SS307
 MAJ Paxton is currently an instructor for SS307, International Relations, and academic counselor in the Defense and Strategic Studies Department at the United States Military Academy.  He has a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.  He will be the course director for DS455, Comparative Military Systems starting in January of 2015.  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.  His areas of academic interest are international affairs, security studies, and environmental resource policy development. 
Education:
M.A.L.D., The Fletcher School, Tufts University
B.S., Aerospace Engineering, US Military Academy

 
 
 
 
Lasiter.jpg
DS350 & DS385
 
CPT Lasiter is currently course director for DS350 Military Communication within the Defense and Strategic Studies program at the United States Military Academy.  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.  CPT Lasiter has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan on multiple occasions.  His academic interests are communication theory, terrorism, insurgency and psychology.
 
Education:
B.A. English; University of Louisville, Kentucky
M.A. Professional Communication; University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska
M.S. Defense Analysis- Irregular Warfare; Naval Postgraduate School, California