Russell D. “Russ” Howard: Why MIIS is Better than Harvard

Written by  //  June 28, 2011  //  Alumni Stories, MIIS Around the World  //  No comments

Monterey Institute alums have a tendency to take the road less travelled, yet make it seem easy. Russ Howard (MBA ’74) came to the Institute after serving in the U.S. Army Special Forces and left with a degree in international business. His Chinese language fluency served him well as he worked for international corporations in Asia and the Pacific. It was a good and well-compensated life, but when the Army recalled him to voluntary active duty because of his special skills, he decided to follow the beat of his patriotic heart.

“I had a very satisfying 30-plus year career in the Special Forces,” says Russ of his return to the Army. He served in every Special Forces command position—detachment to group command—before retiring as a brigadier general. After adding a second graduate degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School in 1988 and later serving as an Army Chief of Staff fellow at the same university, Russ became a tenured faculty member of the United States Military Academy at West Point. “I often tell people that I got a better education at MIIS than at Harvard” he generously comments, pointing to the small class sizes and focus on culture and foreign language.

The events of 9/11 were to change the trajectory of his career once again. Prior to the attacks that day, combating terrorists was not a primary focus of military education in the U.S. Russ, as head of the Department of Social Sciences at West Point, was asked to spearhead the foundation of the Combating Terrorism Center there, and became its founding director. He is a renowned specialist in the field today, and bestselling author and editor of many articles and books on counter-terrorism. Even though formally retired, Russ is still writing books and consulting all over the world. Best of all, he has returned to the Monterey Peninsula to share his experiences with current MIIS students participating in his workshops. Says the now happily retired general: “It’s good to be back.”

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