Counterinsurgency expert joins ASU as professor of practice

February 26, 2019

David Kilcullen, a new professor of practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies, was in Tempe this February to film a lecture for his first semester teaching online at Arizona State University.

Kilcullen is also an affiliated faculty member with the Center on Future of War, a senior fellow at New America and an author, strategist and counterinsurgency expert. He served 25 years as a military officer, diplomat and policy adviser for the Australian and United States governments, in command and operational missions (including peacekeeping, counterinsurgency and foreign internal defense) across the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe. In the United States, he was chief strategist in the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, and served in Iraq as senior counterinsurgency adviser to General David Petraeus, before becoming special adviser for counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. David Kilcullen, is professor of practice in the Center on the Future of War and the School of Politics and Global Studies David Kilcullen, professor of practice in the Center on the Future of War and the School of Politics and Global Studies. Photo from ASU Now Download Full Image

In his first semester, Kilcullen will be teaching a course in the MA in global security program. During his visit he took some time to share more about his research and what he hopes to accomplish while at ASU.

Question: How did you get started in the field of counterinsurgency?

Answer: A lot of my mentors at Duntroon, which is the Australian military academy, and later in the Australian infantry, served in counterinsurgency campaigns in Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam, so I sort of grew up with it. When I was a junior officer the army sent me to language school for a year and for some special training, and then to run teams in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea doing what we call "Foreign Internal Defense." I also commanded infantry troops doing counterinsurgency and peacekeeping work in East Timor and the Pacific. In the mid-1990s, I did my PhD on insurgencies in Indonesia — including an Islamic separatist insurgency that later became the Al Qaeda affiliate for Southeast Asia. I submitted my doctoral dissertation about eight weeks before 9/11. So, when the attacks happened there weren't a lot of guys around with detailed understanding of those groups, and I happened to be one of the few, so I quickly got pulled into dealing with them, and ended up doing counterinsurgency and counterterror work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and a couple of places in Africa as a result.

Q: You’ve written a number of bestselling books including, "The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One" and "Counterinsurgency." Are you currently working on another project?

A: Yes, I'm writing a book now called "The Dragon and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West," which is about how adaptive enemies, both terrorists and state actors, evolve under the pressure of war. I'm looking not only at insurgents and terrorist groups but also at Russia, China and a couple of others, and am applying some ideas from evolutionary theory to explain how all these different actors are hitting on similar approaches as they deal with the "fitness landscape" we created after the Cold War. The book comes out later this year.

Q: Why did you decide to come to ASU as a Professor of Practice for the MA in Global Security online degree?

A: Well, ASU has a great reputation as an innovative and forward-looking place, and I am really excited to be part of the team for the new master's in Global Security, which is set to be one of the first of its kind and really bring new learning opportunities for students. It's also a great group of people.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish as you work at the university?

A: Mostly just getting to know and work with students — it's students who make the university, and the next generation are going to face a world that's equal parts terrifying, inspiring and confusing. I'm hoping that together we can help each other figure it out!

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies


Arizona experts fight to disrupt dementia

Free public forum explores scientific, medical and community Alzheimer’s advancements

February 26, 2019

Researchers, scientists and other community experts are working together to disrupt dementia and end Alzheimer’s disease before losing another generation.

Arizona has the second-highest growth rate for Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell initiated Dementia Friendly Tempe in 2016 to help make the city a livable community for people with dementia and their care partners. Dementia Free public forum explores scientific, medical and community Alzheimer’s advancements. Download Full Image

On Saturday, March 16, join experts as they highlight why there is hope now and for the future during the fourth annual Dementia Friendly Tempe Summit focused on "Redefining Dementia."

Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that takes an incredible toll on the affected person and their families. “There is a sense of urgency to find effective therapies to treat the disease or prevent the symptoms from ever developing,” said Eric M. Reiman, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute executive director. “It is a tall order that requires collaboration from academic and scientific industries and Arizona researchers are leading the way in the endeavor.”

During the Dementia Friendly Tempe Summit, Reiman will highlight the progress made in the scientific fight against Alzheimer’s disease, specifically the work underway to find effective prevention therapies as soon as possible. Diego Mastroeni, assistant research professor at ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Research Center at the Biodesign Institute, will explore their work to fight Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In his presentation, “The Fight Against Age-Associated Neurodegeneration,” he will also talk about current studies looking at other age-related neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease.

“Alzheimer’s disease is more than a neurological condition that effects the individual; this is a disorder that unbiasedly destroys the lives of all those involved, especially the caregivers,” said Mastroeni. “The importance of Mayor Mitchell’s initiative cannot be understated. As the world’s population ages, we will face significant challenges. One of the greatest challenges will be how to care for those you love so deeply, while not losing yourself in the process.”

Mayor Mark Mitchell, a family caregiver to his mother who has Alzheimer’s, will give an update about the progress of dementia friendly programs within the city of Tempe and the community. "I am so proud of the progress the Dementia Friendly Tempe initiative has made since its inception. In four short years, we have trained more than 3,000 new Dementia Friends and have started making progress on our goal to train all of our city employees," said Mitchell.  "This summer, we kicked this process off by prioritizing training for our first responders. I look forward to continuing Dementia Friendly Tempe's momentum." 

The fourth Annual Dementia Friendly Tempe Summit — Redefining Dementia is 10 a.m. Saturday, March 16 at the Edward Jones Training Facility, 8333 S. River Parkway in Tempe. It is free, with registration required at or by calling 602-839-6850. Respite care will be provided to registered attendees who bring their loved one living with dementia as needed.