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AGS Movie Night and Discussion: Our War

AGS Movie Night & Discussion: Our War | February 24, 2021

Professor Tim Nichols, three of Duke’s Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellows, COL Jon Harvey, COL Matt Ross, and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Matthew Whittemore, and members of the AGS community watched and discussed the documentary Our War which follows three westerners who joined the Kurds in Northern Syria, to battle the self-declared Islamic State. The film chronicles their choices, nightmares, hopes, comrades, friends lost, and continued struggle for what they believe in.

The panel discussion touched on the current events on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State, the relationship between the Kurds and other states in the Middle East (particularly other U.S. partners in some capacity such as Turkey), change and continuity in U.S. policy between the Trump and Biden administrations, and U.S. counterterrorism policy and practice.

Panel Participants:

Colonel Jon Harvey is a US Army Field Artillery Officer originally from Nebraska City, Nebraska. He has commanded soldiers at every level from small units to a battalion, and he has extensive staff experience to include the Joint Staff, the Army Staff, and U.S. Forces Afghanistan. His postings have taken him to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Korea, to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to Fort Drum, New York, and to Washington, D.C.  Operationally, he has served in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Haiti (earthquake response), and Iraq. In his most recent position on the Army Staff, he was responsible for managing the current and future Field Artillery force. Jon is a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Master in Military Arts and Sciences from the Army Command and General Staff College. Upon completion of his fellowship at Duke, Jon will assume command of the 18th Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Jon, his wife Lain, and his son Fox live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Jon’s research focus while in the fellowship is military senior leader decision making and the Army’s professional military education of staff officers.

Colonel Matt Ross is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana.  He graduated from West Point in 2001 and accepted a Regular Army commission in the Infantry.  Matt has led multiple elements in and out of combat throughout his career including three Platoons, three Companies, two Special Operations Troops, and a Special Operations Squadron.  Matt has extensive experience working in interagency environments, completed a tour at a US Embassy in the Middle East, and deployed on multiple occasions throughout Europe, South America, and the Middle East.    Matt has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from West Point and a Master of Arts in Leadership from Central Michigan University.  Matt and his wife, Lindsey, have two children, Jonathan and Madison.  Matt’s research interests include counter terrorism and crisis response operations, lean organization management, and the application of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into decision making.

Matthew Whittemore grew up in Bedford, New Hampshire and is a Supervisory Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Matt’s FBI career began in 2010 working in the Los Angeles Division, Orange County Resident Agency, Joint Terrorism Task Force which included several high profile investigations that led to multiple disruptions and prosecutions of homegrown violent extremists. Additionally, Matt worked as a member of the Los Angeles Division SWAT Team – serving arrest and search warrants on high risk individuals. Prior to his arrival at Duke, Matt served on the FBI Counterterrorism Division’s Fly Team where he embedded with Department of Defense Special Operations Units conducting operational deployments to Iraq, Bosnia, the Republic of the Philippines, and other austere overseas locations in order to identify and counter national security threats. Matt holds a Bachelor of Science from Salisbury University in 2002 and served in various leadership positions as an officer in the US Marine Corps – attaining the rank of captain prior to joining the FBI. Matt’s research interests include: evaluating the current terrorism landscape, assessing the less predictable nature of the threats, and examining the effective integration of counterterrorism intelligence and operations across agency boundaries to minimize the risk of terrorism to the homeland and U.S. interests abroad.