Colonel John “Buss” Barranco is the 2021-22 senior US Marine Corps fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.
Barranco was deployed on the USS Peleliu with the Fifteenth Marine Expeditionary Unit security operations center when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred, conducting the initial marine action in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Following that, Barranco reported to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One in Yuma, Arizona for duty as an Super Cobra instructor pilot. During his tenure there, he deployed to Iraq in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom as an augment member of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269. Later, he was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 and completed two more tours to Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005 to 2007. He reported to Headquarters Marine Corps for Aviation in February 2008, where he served as H-1 Transition Task Force lead from February 2008 until April 2010. Barranco assumed command of The Watchdogs of the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 in June 2010.
Barranco then served as the Homeland Defense Division Joint Operations/Theater Security branch chief from June 2013 to May 2015. From May 2015 until February 2016, he was the executive officer to the commander of US Southern Command. Barranco was then reassigned to Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation, serving as the Aviation Expeditionary Enablers branch head from February 2016 until August 2016, and as the Aviation Programs and Weapons Requirements branch head from August 2016 until July 2017. He commanded the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Atlantic from July 2017 to July 2019. Barranco subsequently served as Aviation Plans, Policies, Programs and Budget branch head at the Headquarters Marine Corps for Aviation from July 2019 until July 2021.
Barranco was commissioned through the United States Naval Academy, graduating with a bachelor of science in history. Barranco is a graduate of the US Marine Corps Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course and a distinguished graduate of the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at National Defense University. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, a Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, two individual Air Medals, the Strike/Flight Air Medal, three Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and two Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals.