Steven L. Whitson (President & CEO)

Steven L. Whitson is a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) currently serving as Commander of Det 1, Combat Flight Inspection.  LTC Whitson is a Command Pilot with over 4,500 flying hours and 261 combat missions. He has received the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign medals and numerous other awards and decorations.

LTC Whitson received his commission as an ROTC Distinguished Graduate in 2003 from the University of Kentucky, and later graduated from Squadron Officer School where he was also a Distinguished graduate. In 2007, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with an MBA in Public Administration from American Intercontinental University.

In 2013, LTC Whitson was selected as the KC-135 Functional Area Manager for U.S. Air Forces European Command, Ramstein, Germany.  There he worked hand in hand with NATO allies, and helped lead the MAJCOM’s standardization and evaluation branch.

In addition to numerous deployments amounting to 3.5 years spent in the Middle East, LTC Whitson served six months in Ankara, Turkey, working for the Office of Defense cooperation and the U.S. Embassy. There he directed operations for Remote Piloted Aircraft in support of a bi-lateral intel operation, as well as combat operations in Syria.

Following that assignment, LTC Whitson was board-selected as part of the initial cadre for the Air Force’s newest aircraft, the KC-46A. He was integral in establishing the airframe’s first Formal Training Unit and was handpicked by the base commander to serve a dual-role as the Installation Inspector General. Prior to his current assignment, LTC Whitson was the Director of Operations for the KC-135 Formal Training Unit, leading 150 Airman and civilians, utilizing 16 aircraft, responsible for training all Active Duty, Reserve, and Guard KC-135 pilots in the nation.

LTC Whitson’s views are his own and do not reflect the opinion of the United States Air Force.

Stewart L. Whitson (Visiting Fellow)

Stewart L. Whitson earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota in 2010, and a master’s degree from George Washington University in Strategic Security Studies in 2016. He has also earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and a Certificate in Strategic Management from Georgetown University. Mr. Whitson is currently an adjunct professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. where he has taught a counterterrorism course since 2019 and is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).

Prior to joining IALS, Mr. Whitson led the FBI’s Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Operations Section (HOS) within the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence (DI), responsible for the oversight of all aspects of the FBI’s global HUMINT program. Before leading HOS, Mr. Whitson oversaw hundreds of terrorism investigations across the nation as a Supervisory Special Agent at FBI HQ and later, led the FBI’s effort to analyze and exploit terrorist electronic communications as a Unit Chief in the FBI’s Technology & Data Innovation Section.

Prior to the FBI, Mr. Whitson served as a U.S. Army Infantry Officer, personally leading more than 300 combat missions in Baghdad, Iraq. While overseas, Mr. Whitson routinely met with Iraqi political and religious leaders to promote peace and facilitate construction and humanitarian projects. In addition, Mr. Whitson planned and led more than 22 joint missions with the Iraqi Army, as well as an operation that resulted in the successful rescue of a hostage.

Upon graduating from the FBI Academy in 2011, Mr. Whitson was assigned to the FBI’s Phoenix Division. There he served as the FBI’s lead investigator following the first ISIS-claimed attack upon the U.S. Homeland and deployed to Iraq, Jordan, and Eastern Europe in support of other FBI investigations. While assigned to Phoenix Division, Mr. Whitson served as a member of the FBI’s SWAT team and as an FBI-certified legal advisor for National Security-related matters.