Sean McFate

Senior Fellow, Africa Center

mcfate sean

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African security, US National Security Strategy, Trans-national threats, Mercenaries, International Business, Security Sector Reform, Justice Sector Reform, Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR),  Defense Contractors, Atrocities Prevention



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Dr. Sean McFate, author of The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order, is an expert on strategy, the future of war and international relations. He is a professor at the National Defense University and Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and an adjunct social scientist at the RAND Corporation.

McFate has an unconventional background across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. He worked in Africa for several years for DynCorp International, a company that provides international security services. There he created unique programs such as building Liberia's army "from the ground up" after its long civil war and Charles Taylor's exile. He trained Burundi's Presidential Guard to prevent a genocidal threat in 2004. He also worked on programs in South Sudan and Eastern Europe. From 1992 to 2000 he was a US Army Officer, serving as paratrooper in the eighty-second Airborne Division. Following this, he was an adviser to Amnesty International on human rights and armed conflict, and also a Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation. In the private sector, McFate was Vice President at TD International, a political risk consulting firm with offices in Washington, Houston, Jakarta, Singapore, and Zurich. He was also a business adviser at BearingPoint (now Deloitte Consulting) and an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton.

McFate authored The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order (Oxford University Press) which the Economist called a "fascinating and disturbing book." He has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR, the Economist, Diane Rehm Show, Al Jazeera America, Fox News, RT News, the New York Post, and various international outlets. He has written articles for Foreign Policy, the New Republic, African Affairs, Military Review, Royal United Services Institute Journal, Review of African Political Economy,, War on the Rocks, and Vice Magazine. He has published eight book chapters in edited academic volumes, a monograph for the US Army War College on raising foreign armies, special reports for the US Institute of Peace and the Stanley Foundation, and was a contributor to The Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence and also War Crimes and Trials: A Historical Encyclopedia. He served on the Editorial Board of Millennium: Journal of International Studies (Sage Publications).

McFate holds a bachelor's degree from Brown University, a master's degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a PhD in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.