Retired Admiral Cecil Haney, Alumnus
Former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, NPSF Advisory Council Member

Retired Admiral Cecil Haney graduated from NPS with a master's degree in engineering acoustics and system technology. Before retiring from the navy, he served as Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), one of nine unified commands under the Department of Defense. In addition to his position on the NPS Foundation's Advisory Council, he currently serves on the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Board of Managers and as a co-chair for the China-U.S. Dialogue on Strategic Nuclear Dynamics for the Pacific Forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

How would you describe your NPS experience?   
I came to NPS after serving my first and second assignments in the Navy on board the USS JOHN C. CALHOUN and USS FRANK CABLE. Given those rewarding experiences, I came to NPS with an appreciation of the technical challenges associated with sustaining credible operations at sea to deter conflict and to win if deterrence failed. I was thirsty for more engineering knowledge. This tour of duty was also wonderful for our family. The friends we met during the NPS experience both inside and outside the military had a lasting imprint on us as a family. 

What are some highlights from your time at NPS?
While at NPS, the way we communicated changed dramatically with the movement to the personal computer even though — at the time — frame bandwidth was limited compared to today’s standards. I could link to the NPS mainframe computer from around the country as we operated not with Wi-Fi but with slow modem connections to the standard phone line. This made an exciting time at NPS as we all debated where this would take us in the future as a Navy.

I also got exposed to how NPS students, including myself, really want to study and work on real problems facing our military. So, in subsequent tours in the Pentagon, at Pacific Fleet and at U.S. Strategic Command I had my staff discuss our needs with NPS faculty and students who then worked on a variety of research topics for us. So, I am indebted to NPS not just for an outstanding education but also for the incredible research done by NPS students to support my follow-on assignments.

Current events in our nation are highlighting the necessity and the advantages of a diverse military. Given your military career and your involvement with the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, how would you like to see the U.S. Military move forward in reaching new levels of diversity?  
In order to have the best military force we can, we must count on the overall efforts of all within the ranks regardless of our differences. We must respect the differences of all who serve regardless of our background and understand that a military with diversity among all ranks in our leadership teams will empower team dynamics and provide the diverse ideas required to address the complex operational and warfighting problems facing our military now and into the future. In my opinion, this is a readiness issue that must be addressed.

Many of the recommendations of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission have not been effectively implemented or institutionalized. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the military services must review and implement those recommendations as well as those from other, more recent studies. As leaders, we must work to achieve equal opportunity mentoring and promotion opportunities for all in a sustainable way. Episodical responses during a crisis are not enough. Without a sustained strategic and operational approach, we will not reach diversity across all ranks of the military. We must establish a culture where diversity is valued, and racial prejudices and biases are confronted and professionally dealt with. We must integrate effective training on this in our leadership training continuum and not treat it as a one-time training event. 

Current events should make us aware that the problem is not just a problem of unconscious bias but that it also includes hidden and sometimes blatant racism, and we must be trained to look for indications and warnings and address them. This is a matter of dignity and respect and in this age of major power competition we need to embrace and develop all who are part of our military force – those who serve in uniform and those in the civil sector of our military services. 

What does it mean to you to now be back at NPS serving as part of the NPS Foundation Advisory Council?
It’s an opportunity to stay connected and to give back. I have always been a big cheerleader for NPS, given the wonderful education and experiences I received there. As a member of the NPS Foundation Advisory Council, I hope to support students, professors and the institution in any way I can. Joining this advisory council, I hope my active participation and advocacy will help NPS at large as I learn more about specific needs going forward. 


COL John Crisafulli, Faculty
Special Operations Forces Chair

Colonel John Crisafulli, U.S. Army Green Beret, currently serves as the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Chair at NPS, a role he has held since July 2019. As the SOF Chair, Colonel Crisafulli is responsible for developing students into professional leaders for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). “I ensure they are not only experts in irregular warfare, but are also the strongest communicators who return to the force healthier — both physically and cognitively — and with the critical thinking skills required for SOF officers,” he says.

One way he is helping to improve the physical and cognitive ability of NPS students and special forces officers is through the newly established NPS Human Enhancement and Resource Group (HERG). The HERG will serve as the epicenter for Department of Defense human enhancement and performance research by, with and through NPS students. “Students will serve as the engines for research,” COL Crisafulli explains.

The HERG will exist within a single structure but contain four different components – a physical therapy center, a physical performance center, a cognitive performance center, and a life strategy counseling center. Each component will support the goal of advancing human performance for SOCOM and the Department of Defense.

“In the coming years, we are going to see the HERG as a medium to provide the highest quality, defense-focused programs of education and applied research in the realm of human enhancement,” COL Crisafulli says. “Graduates will return to the force physically and mentally prepared to lead in the ever-changing and more complex conflicts on the horizon. They will be more adaptable.”

In addition to developing more adaptable officers, Crisafulli will also facilitate student and faculty-led research projects within the HERG that collaborate with NPS labs, industry partners and other academic institutions. “Collaborative research within the HERG will develop and implement solutions for DoD service members to have the physical and cognitive overmatch against future adversaries."

With a distinguished career in the U.S. Army Special Forces, Crisafulli is well-qualified to help lead this initiative in enhancing human performance. Prior to coming to NPS, he served in Iraq and Syria within the Special Operations Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve and worked as the director for the Special Operations Advisory Group.

“The lessons I learned in combat are by far the most profound, which have enabled me to be a more effective and competent leader,” he says. “Looking back on my career, I am most proud of serving alongside the Special Operations Forces while engaging the enemy. These true professionals demonstrated unwavering teamwork in the most harsh and brutal environments, always putting individual needs aside for their detachment members.”


Janell Hanf, Alumna
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Janell Hanf is a 2017 NPS graduate, where she earned her master’s degree in Systems Analysis. After leaving NPS, she served as an operations manager, headquarters and service company commander, and logistics program manager. Now, after a 10-year career in the Marine Corps, Hanf is in the process of transitioning into the private sector. Her decision to leave the Marine Corps is as deliberate and as personal as her decision to first join the military.

“I decided to join the Marine Corps at a young age after the events of 9/11 and a school trip to Washington D.C. and New York City,” she says. “I observed the leadership of three teachers in my school who were all Marine Corps veterans, which solidified my desire to not just serve in the military but be a Marine Corps officer.”

Hanf is now continuing her Marine Corps service in the Reserves and as a Naval Academy Blue and Gold Officer. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, she says finding a new opportunity has been difficult. “It's been challenging even with transition resources and mentorship. I have no doubt that I made the right decision to leave active-duty service, but I'm still not sure exactly where I'll end up. It's a little scary but also exciting.”

Hanf says her NPS experience gives her certain advantages and skills that she can use in a variety of career fields. “The Systems Analysis program at NPS helped me do more thorough and thoughtful data analysis, build coherent reports, and analyze and communicate risks and recommendations. I can take overwhelming amounts of data and distill the most relevant and critical conclusions for planning, mitigating risks, and decision-making.”

While Hanf says her career in the Marine Corps has been fulfilling, challenging and meaningful, she is eager to find opportunities that fully utilize her skills, education, training and creativity. “I want to be the best version of myself that I can be, and not just focus 100 percent of my time and efforts on being the best officer,” she explains. “Also, after doing the two-year distance learning program at NPS, I saw the possibilities of remote collaboration for teams across continents and I wanted more flexibility to use collaborative tools to work remotely, at least part time.”

To learn more about Hanf’s transition out of the military, including a list of her best resources for transitioning officers, check out her LinkedIn article. Her best tip? The “Beyond the Uniform” podcast, which includes 360 episodes related to military and career transition across a wide range of industries.


Sean Docherty, Student
U.S. Marine Corps

With NPS located just 70 miles from Silicon Valley, many students are finding new ways to leverage connections to the tech capital of the world — Sean Docherty is one of them. As a current master’s student, Docherty’s thesis is focused on enhancing the resiliency and agility of defense network security operations. Docherty and his research partner are analyzing incident prevention and response processes in both the Department of Defense (DoD) and private industry to identify best practices. “Our hope is that by interviewing an eclectic range of participants from tech start-ups to cloud service providers, we’ll be able to identify useful practices that can be leveraged for future implementation in the DoD,” he says.

Recently, Docherty presented their research at a Business Executives for National Security (BENS) meeting in Silicon Valley. This group includes executives from several leading technology companies and venture capitalists who are interested in partnering with the DoD wherever possible. “We provided the group with a brief overview of our research methodology and intent and were lucky enough to walk away with multiple partnerships,” Docherty says. “We’ve now had the opportunity to leverage these partnerships to collaborate with each organization on their network security operations and incident prevention and management practices.

Collaborating with innovative organizations has already been helpful for Docherty’s master’s thesis, but he believes he will also find value from these experiences during future tours in the Marine Corps. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from these innovative organizations. The collaboration process has provided me with a new perspective on problem-solving techniques, a perspective I hope to use during my next tour of duty.”

Between Docherty’s work with private industry; his courses on process analytics, program management methodologies, and problem-solving via computer-based systems; and his conversations with other NPS students and professors, he believes he will be well-equipped to transition back to operational work in the Marine Corps. “Working and studying alongside an extremely intelligent group of students from each service and professors with experience in multiple industries has helped me to develop insight that I otherwise wouldn’t have gained in the operating forces,” he says. “The skills I’ve developed at NPS will likely be used while serving as an action officer during my utilization tour. My hope is that shortly after, I’ll have the opportunity to directly impact the young men and women who make up our organization in the capacity of a command role. I’d like to give back to the marines, specifically the junior marines and non-commissioned officers that serve as the lifeblood of our organization.”


Connect with us!

 Drag content here