Christopher Leins is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.
From 2015 to 2019, Leins served in the US Department of State as senior security adviser to the US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. Leins represented the special envoy in security-related dialogs and provided recommendations on US policies and programs for security sector reform throughout East Africa. Leins retired from the US Army in 2014 with the rank of Major General after thirty-five years of service, where he served in armor, Special Forces, and civil affairs assignments. During his last four years in the military, Leins served as director for politico-military affairs (Africa) on the Joint Staff. He was responsible for plans and policy matters involving US Department of Defense (DoD) activities throughout Africa, to include policy recommendations for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior DoD leaders. He also provided military advice to the National Security Council and interagency policy committees and study groups developing US policy toward Africa. While with the Joint Staff, Leins responded to crises throughout Africa, including post-Arab Spring Tunisia and Libya, ongoing challenges in South Sudan and Somalia, and anti-Lord’s Resistance Army operations in central Africa.
From 2009 to 2010, Leins served as deputy commander for the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa in Djibouti. While there, he worked with the US Department of State, US Agency for International Development, and other US agencies to build the security capacity of East African partner nations and enhance positive relationships to counter violent extremism throughout East Africa.
Previously, Leins commanded a civil affairs brigade, which prepared officers to deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the Sahel. From 1993 to 1994, he deployed to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope.
Leins has spoken at the Virginia Military Institute, the US Army War College, the Harvard Kennedy School for Executive Education, and the US Institute of Peace. He has also received the US Army Distinguished Service Medal and the US Department of Defense Superior Service Medal.
Leins graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1979 and the US Naval War College (with highest distinction) in 1997. He also holds master’s degrees in government from Johns Hopkins University and strategic studies from the US Army War College.