Dr. Dennis Walters

Director (Acting)

As the Director (Acting) of the Irregular Warfare Center, Dr. Walters draws on more than three decades of operational and academic expertise to guide the Defense Department and the Interagency approach to conflict and competition, focusing on irregular warfare.

Dr. Walters enlisted in the United States Army as an Infantryman in 1983 and was selected as one of the original members of the re-activated 3/75th Ranger Battalion. During his enlisted career, he served in the 82nd Airborne Division, the XVIII Airborne Corps, and the 1st Armored Division before being commissioned into the Army Intelligence Corps.

After completing the Special Forces Qualification Course, he was assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group. He took command of a Special Forces Operations Detachment, SFODA 081, and deployed with them to the Balkans in combat operations in Kosovo and Serbia. As a fluent Russian speaker, in 2001, he was sent to liaison with the Russian Army in Tajikistan to support the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

In 2009, Dennis retired from the Army and began building a global network of irregular warfare professionals for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations. With Dennis’ vision of using education to build global networks of strategic thinkers who collaborate across cultures to address irregular problems, the Department of Defense Regional Defense Fellowship Program (RDFP) was established. Dennis’ foresight and initiative has resulted in operationalizing this network in a variety of regions throughout the world. Today the network consists of more than 20,000 people from 120 countries and supports U.S. national security and the country’s allies and partners around the globe. Through Dr. Walter’s leadership, the RDFP program oversees the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) at the National Defense University and the Joint Special Operations Master’s Program located at Ft. Bragg.

Dr. Walters has instructed courses on irregular warfare at the National Defense University and is a published author in the field, including “The Future of the Middle East in 2040: A Forecast of the Drivers of Stability,” “Crafting a National Counterterrorism Strategy for Bangladesh,” and “East Africa and the Lord’s Resistance Army.” He has also taught at Regent University, where he developed one of the first graduate courses on strategic defense futures. Dr. Walters’ educational background includes a doctorate in Strategic Leadership with a focus on Strategic Defense Futures from Regent University in 2007, a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University in 2004, and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a focus on Russian language from Methodist University in 1994.


Building a Bigger Tent: Women and Irregular Conflict

In December 2022 this Center introduced ourselves with an essay that outlined our intent to create a big tent by “entering into partnerships and resource agreements with academic institutions.” Your Irregular Warfare Center (IW Center) is pleased to report that last month about two dozen civilian universities joined us in Washington, DC, to discuss the comprehensive research, education, and outreach ...

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DOD’s Irregular Warfare Center: Building Partnerships by Opening Up the Tent

In the three short months since the Irregular Warfare Center (IWC) “opened its doors,” to begin addressing the implications of “struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over relevant populations,” it has been using its broad range of authorities to reach out and begin creating partnerships and collaborations to ensure it fully addresses strategic competition below the ...

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