Center for Strategy and Technology Faculty
Mr. Benjamin D. Phillips — Managing Director
Ben "Dabs" Phillips has over 25 years with the active duty and reserves as a fighter pilot and acquisition specialist. His private sector roles include as chief financial officer, strategy consultant, founder and board member across a variety of industries. Senior staff positions include program management and security oversight roles within the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, as lab director in the Air Force Research Laboratory, and as chief of current operations at a combatant command. He holds a BS in Physics, an MA in Political Science, and an MBA from MIT's Sloan School of Management. Interests include ancient languages, old truck maintenance, and the subtle art of growing entrepreneurs, among others.
Colonel Jayson Schmiedt — Deputy Director
Col Jayson “Messer” Schmiedt has a mixed career across different Air Force specialties. He is a senior pilot with experience in the F-15C and MQ-9, and over half of his operational experience as a Tactical Air Control Party Officer. Prior assignments include USINDOPACOM Joint Operations Center Director, 14th Air Support Operations Squadron Commander, CJTF-OIR J3-Forward, and 607th Air Operations Center Joint Fires Integration Chief. Col Schmiedt earned a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Master’s of Military Arts and Science (US Army Command and General Staff College), and a Master’s in Strategic Studies (US Air War College).
Dr. Eric Keels — Professor
Dr. Eric Keels is a professor in the Blue Horizons program and conducts policy-relevant research on issues related to global security. His research focuses on civil war dynamics, human rights, international conflict management, post-war processes, and rebel group organizations/ideology. Outside of research, he's crazy about BBQ.
Mr. Anthony Franks — Professor
Tony Franks has over 23 years with the active duty and reserves as a bomber/tactical airlift pilot and cyberspace operations officer. He currently serves as a reserve vice wing commander. He has served in multiple major and combatant commands, deploying 7 times worldwide. He holds a BS in Business, MS in Theology, and a MA in Strategic Studies. He has been teaching at Air University for 5 years. Prior to that, he was an airline pilot for 7 years. Interests include mentorship, keeping up with his 3 children, and camping.
Mr. John Carter — Adjunct Professor
Mr. Carter works collaboratively in the execution of AU's education, research and doctrine missions. Mr. Carter retired as a Colonel, spending the majority of his career in flight operations with 3400 hours in the O-2, A-10, and F-16. He commanded an A-10 squadron, was Commandant of the Air Force Weapons School, Vice Commander of a Fighter Wing and Vice Commandant of the Air War College. Mr. Carter holds a Bachelor's degree from Duke University, Masters Degrees from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and SAASS, and spent a year as a National Security Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Major Nathaniel Opie — Operations Officer
Maj Nathaniel Opie has an acquisitions engineer background in both Air and Space Force Organizations. He began his career at Wright Patterson AFB in the T-6 and F-22 System Program Office, and Materials and Manufacturing directorate. From there he was assigned to LA AFB where he worked in the Launch Enterprise Directorate managing launch contracts for SpaceX National Security Space Launch missions. He has earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a MS in Material Science. His spark for innovation started with an assignment to Seattle, Washington at a small company, funded by Jeff Bezos, who builds reusable rockets, Blue Origin LLC. Maj Opie's entrepreneurial career started while at LA AFB working nights and weekends with a former co-worker where they gained support from the Air Force Chief Scientist Office, AFWERX, and 9 AF Wings, to TDY 15 military Engineers, Scientist, and Coders to wing innovation units (Spark Cells) to solve base level problems.
Major Christopher Weston — Operations Officer
Major Christopher S. Weston is a Senior Combat Systems Officer with over 4,500 hours, including 2,600 combat hours, in the U-28A and C-130E/H/J as a loadmaster. He holds a BS in Liberal Studies from Excelsior College. Previous assignment was as Chief of Manned ISR Tactics for 492nd Special Operations Training Group at Hurlburt Field. He pursues a diverse range of hobbies including CNC machining, 3d printing, beekeeping, heavy equipment operation, and technology research.
Center for Strategy and Technology Fellows
Major Michael Ristom
Major Michael Ristom has spent half of his career in Air Combat Command and the other half in Air Force Special Operations Command. As a senior pilot, he has flown both manned and unmanned reconnaissance platforms as well as MV & CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft. His most recent assignments include executive officer to the AFSOC A3, executive officer to the 1 SOW Wing Commander, and Director of the 1 SOW Innovation Cell. He received his Associates Degree in Aerospace Technology from Brevard Community College, a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach), and a Master Degree in Intelligence Studies from American Military University. Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his awesome wife, his crazy dogs, and tries to keep up with his ever growing list of hobbies. His most notable hobbies include gardening, hydroponics, 3D modeling, woodworking, metal working, shooting, reading, and exploring new hobbies.
Major Gregory Haverkorn
I'm passionate about fostering the changes we need to remain competitive with China. My most important contribution is teaching my five kids why Western values create a superior international system. My journey also included manned flying in Air Force Special Operations Command, unmanned flying in Air Combat Command, agile software development, and most recently implementing cloud infrastructure at the Air Force's Joint All-Domain Command and Control Battle Lab.
Major Lauren Taylor
Major Lauren Taylor began her career in acquisitions, followed by teaching before finally settling into space operations. After ten years in the Air Force, she switched to the Space Force with experience predominantly focused in the GPS enterprise. Aside from work, Maj Taylor loves spending time with her amazing family, growing closer together while hiking, golfing, and traveling.
Major Anthony “Wedge” Bunker
Major Wedge Bunker is a B-1 Weapons System Officer with over 2000 flight hours. He has deployed to both the Middle East and Guam in support of our country’s national objectives. His most recent deployment was part of Operation Allies Welcome where he served as the Mayor of an Afghan resettlement village. Major Bunker has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Middle Tennessee State University, a Master’s degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio University. He is a Co-Founder of the Design Warfare design thinking course where students are taught to problem solve using end-user centric small business strategies. In his off time, Major Bunker can be found hiking, camping, off-roading, or bicycling.
Major Kali Green
Major Kali Green is a Cyberspace Operations Officer who has spent most of her career specializing in expeditionary communications. She deployed multiple times and recently returned from being the Director of Communications on a small Joint Special Operations Staff. Prior to her selection as a Blue Horizons Fellow, she was the Director of Operations and led 250 Special Operations Communicators. Outside of warfighter communications, she has experience in space and homeland defense operations. She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy as well as the U.S. Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Warfare School. She is at home in the mountains skiing and climbing.
Major Nathan “DEAP” Frey
Major Nathan “DEAP” Frey is a Senior Pilot with over 2,300 hours in the A-10C, including more than 800 combat hours. He has flown combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE and Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL. Major Frey has a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering Management from the United States Air Force Academy. Outside work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, traveling, and outdoor activities, particularly skiing.
Major Stephanie “MATRIX” Boyer
Major Stephanie “MATRIX” Boyer is a career Intelligence Officer. Her recent positions include the Deputy Director of ACC Commander’s Action Group and Director of Operations for an intelligence targeting squadron aligned to EUCOM. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the United States Air Force Academy, Master’s degree in Intelligence Studies from American Military University, and is a graduate of the USAF Weapons School.
Major Justin "Shrek" Howland
Major Justin "Shrek" Howland is a developmental engineer. He earned a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University in 2010 and a Master's in Flight Test Engineering from the USAF Test Pilot School in 2016. Before this assignment, Major Howland was the Assistant Director of Operations at the 746th Test Squadron, performing inertial and GPS testing. He enjoys designing and creating projects using woodworking and 3D printing when not spending his free time with his family.
Major Tom “Clips” Sallenger
Major Tom “Clips” Sallenger is a Senior Pilot with over 2,500 hours, including over 400 combat hours in Afghanistan, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. He has flown the T-6A, T-1, and C-17A where he served as an instructor and evaluator. He commissioned in 2009 from ROTC at East Carolina University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Transportation and Logistics. Major Sallenger is a graduate of the US Air Force Weapons School, where he later served as an instructor. Major Sallenger’s unique skillset includes experiences across Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command, and US Special Operations Command. His hobbies include SCUBA diving, hiking and travel.
Lt Col Marcus “Floater” White
Lt Col “Floater” White is a Senior Air Battle Manager with over 550 combat hours in the E-3 AWACS and over 800 combat hours in the Control and Reporting Center (CRC). He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is also a graduate of the United States Air Forces Weapons School and Air Command and Staff College. Lt Col White is a graduated squadron commander and was a Deputy Program Manager with DARPA. Prior to becoming a Blue Horizons Fellow, he was a planner for Joint and National Security Council Matters on the Headquarters Air Force A3 staff.
Lt Col Michael Askegren
Lt Col Mike Askegren is a career Civil Engineer, two-time squadron commander, and three time Bronze Star recipient. He graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and has Master’s degrees in Emergency Management and Military Operational Art and Science. Lt Col Askegren has served in numerous positions, to include
the Air Force Civil Engineer’s Deputy Chief of Strategies and Future Concepts and Tyndall AFB’s Director of the Emergency Operations Center, where he directed actions leading up to Hurricane Michael and then recovery after the Category 5 storm, posturing Tyndall AFB to be the Air Force’s “Base of the Future.”
Major Josh "RAM" Fehd
Major Josh "RAM" Fehd is an Acquisitions Officer and developmental engineer. He earned a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2009 and a Master's in Cybersecurity from the University of Maryland in 2018. Maj Fehd has served in numerous positions, to include Program Element Monitor for Air Force Test and Evaluation, Special Programs Division, Assistant Director of Operations at an Air Force Test Center unit, as well as Aide-de-Camp to the Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Prior to being a Blue Horizons Fellow, he was the Chief Test Engineer for the Air-Space Integration portfolio at the Strategic Capabilities Office. In his off time, he enjoys cycling, hiking, and working on old BMW’s