Mr. Curtis McGiffin joined the Air Force Institute of Technology team in May as the associate dean for the School of Strategic Force Studies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Katie Scott)
Mr. Curtis McGiffin joined the Air Force Institute of Technology team in May as the associate dean for the School of Strategic Force Studies. He is the senior civilian responsible for the school’s overall execution of space, nuclear, and cyber professional continuing education to more than 4,800 Air Force and DOD students annually.
A retired Air Force Colonel, McGiffin served for over 26 years on active duty service with 17 of those years spent supporting the nuclear enterprise. He was a Master Navigator and an instructor/evaluator navigator with more than 2,700 hours in E-4B, EC-135C/J, KC-135A/E and T-43A aircrafts. In 2013, he served as the first Chief of the National and Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Division on the Joint Staff supporting the Chairman’s National Military Command System.
McGiffin started his military career in 1991 as the Cold War was ending and the focus began to shift from Cold War-Containment to small wars and post-9/11 Global War on Terrorism. He is acutely aware that today’s Air Force members have tremendous experience and deployments in support of irregular warfare and building partnership capacity but little experience in “near-peer competition.” “During my time on the Joint Staff, we advocated for more emphasis on nuclear command and control issues and we were literally told ‘that is Cold War thinking – stop that.’ But, I believe that the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014 changed the Air Force’s perspective. The 2018 National Defense Strategy says that terrorism is no longer the primary concern to US national security, it is inter-state strategic competition. Our Air Force education must catch up to that change in direction” said McGiffin.
McGiffin sees AFIT as uniquely positioned to provide the experiential policy and strategy education to infuse the philosophies of near-peer competition into the current generation. “We can build better practitioners of national security through professional continuing education. It’s a perfect opportunity to blend STEM education with strategy and deterrence education in support of the nuclear enterprise,” said McGiffin.
No stranger to the military academic environment, McGiffin’s last active duty assignment was as the associate dean of faculty and assistant professor of strategy and deterrence at the National War College where he developed and delivered the college’s first deterrence theory elective. Prior to coming to AFIT, he served as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Tech Research Institute where he led strategic deterrence education and research efforts. He is also an adjunct professor with Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies teaching courses on nuclear strategy and deterrence.
“This is a passion for me. When I got the opportunity to come to AFIT and help steer the nuclear deterrence education effort for the Air Force, I jumped at the chance. I want to make as much of a difference as I can because I believe in the critical mission of strategic deterrence.” said McGiffin. “If we are going to spend a trillion dollars modernizing the nuclear enterprise, we need to educate and ‘modernize’ the work force accordingly. Deterrence, specifically nuclear deterrence, and all the things that encourage it and support it and make it work are what guarantees peace in this world. I want to build better deterrence practitioners, better thought leaders in this space – if I can effect that – then I want to do that. That’s why I came to AFIT.”