Chief Political Advisor to the Commander, NATO Joint Force Command Headquarters, Brunssum Defence and Security Committee Meeting

Sunday 30 May 2010


Mr. Segal serves as the principal foreign policy and political advisor to the Joint Force Commander, a German four-star General.   The command has the mission of conducting all NATO military operations in Afghanistan  and the planning of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) campaign.  He has travelled frequently to Afghanistan since 2002, meeting with senior Afghan, ISAF, US and other NATO officials.

Mr. Segal was born in Philadelphia   , USA.  After attending Penn State University for a year, in 1965 he joined the US Army.  After a year of enlisted service, he was commissioned through Infantry OCS in September 1966.  Following parachute training, he was assigned as a 2d Lieutenant to the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division in Dau Tieng, Vietnam, serving there through the Tet Offensive.  He volunteered for a second Vietnam tour with the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi where he was promoted to Captain.  Among his Vietnam awards were the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal.

Mr. Segal received a B.A. degree in International Relations from Boston   University in 1971.  He returned to the Army inGermany, serving in various command and staff officer positions and was promoted to Major in 1975.  Simultaneously, he received an M.A. degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California ’s German Program and was named “Distinguished Graduate.”

In 1977, Mr. Segal resigned his Army commission to join the U.S.   diplomatic service as a Foreign Service Officer.  Initially, he served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.  In 1981, he was sent to Botswanaas Political / Economic officer. In 1983 he was assigned to Athens as Political / Military Affairs officer where he participated in U.S.-Greek base negotiations.  In 1985 he joined the Office of Soviet Union Affairs as the action officer for the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START).  He became the State Department representative to the U.S. START delegation at Geneva in 1986 where he played a key role in reaching agreement with the USSR to establish Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers inWashington and Moscow.

In 1988, Mr. Segal was selected as Chief of Political / Military Affairs in Tel Aviv, serving there through the first Intifada and the Gulf War until July 1991.   He then returned to the U.S.  for Russian language training, after which he was assigned in 1992 to Moscow with responsibility for implementing strategic and WMD arms control and chemical weapons destruction agreements.

In December 1993, he and his wife, Karen Puschel, were selected to establish a new United States Consulate General inYekaterinburg   , Russia, with responsibility for the Urals and western Siberia – an area encompassing forty million people.  He was named the first U.S. Consul General to central Russia in March 1994.  A year later, their accomplishment – which included multi-million dollar contracts for US firms and the first Internet access for university students in Siberia – was cited by President Clinton as “a significant step forward in US-Russian relations.”  In September 1995, he returned to Washingtonas Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Lynn Davis.

In 1998, he joined the National Security Council at the White House as Director for Russia   , Ukraine and Eurasia and was promoted into the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Counsellor.  Concurrently, he served on the White House Kosovo working group.  In June 1999, he became NSC Director for Non-proliferation.  Mr. Segal accepted his NATO appointment in May 2000.   He received four Superior Honor Awards and three Meritorious Honor Awards during his State Department career.

Mr. Segal is an avid (if rather slow) speed skater.   His wife, Karen, herself a former U.S.  diplomat and Council on Foreign Relations scholar, is actively supporting charitable activities in Afghanistan.  Their daughter, Maya attends The Pathfinder School in Traverse City, Michigan.  She speaks Dutch fluently, plays the violin beautifully and is a joy to behold.

Panel on the Afghanistan War

Panel on the Afghanistan War

Military writers talked about the history of the war in Afghanistan and prospects for the future. Topics included the definition of the mission in Afghanistan. They also responded to questions from members of the audience.

Participants were: Dr. Chris Coppola, author of Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq; Donna McAleer, author of Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point’s Long Gray Line; Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan; Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War; and Jack Segal, former senior U.S. diplomat and Vietnam War veteran, was the chief political adviser to the NATO’s Afghanistan commander. Jim Hornfischer moderated.

“An Uncertain Future in Afghanistan: Assessing the Conflict Ten Years On” was a panel of the 16th Annual Colby Military Writers’ Symposium held in Plumley Armory at Norwich University in Vermont.


Why a China conference in Traverse City?

Half of my career, I lived and worked overseas, mostly in the Asia/Pacific region. Although I received loads of cultural training, my opinions of people from other countries changed most drastically when I was with them on a daily basis. How ignorant I was. Opening myself to new ways of doing things was a challenge, but understanding and embracing differences brought great rewards. There is always more to learn.

That’s why Northwestern Michigan College’s International Affairs Forum is such an asset to our community. For more than 20 years, IAF has invited top-notch global leaders to Milliken Auditorium on the third Thursday of the month. Why are we passionate about involving the community in global topics? The fact is we can think and act globally and still support local. The two can, do, and must co-exist.

No part of the world is more crucial to our future than China. That’s why IAF and other local partners and sponsors have organized the region’s first two-day conference on China, “China: Competitor or Partner?” set for June 5-6. One goal: to bring greater understanding of what is already going on in business, education and culture with China right here in Northern Michigan. Plans for student exchanges by Traverse City Area Public Schools are just one example.

We have discovered local companies exporting, partnering and manufacturing in China. There are even a few whose businesses were rescued by Chinese investors who came forward to keep the plants open and the communities afloat. These stories will be shared at the conference to help us discuss the impact, opportunities and demands that Chinese engagement brings.

Today, Michigan businesses are experiencing rapid growth in their trade with China. Last year, Michigan exported $3.2 billion worth of goods and services to China, just behind Canada and Mexico. Michigan is one of the top 10 states for direct investment from China with more than $917 million in capital from China in 2012.

Often I host international visitors in Traverse City … some Caucasian and many not. They feel a bit strange here as they walk downtown and see very little diversity. I have walked in their shoes, when I looked very different from the locals and had limited language skills. My guests ask why people stare at them or look at them strangely. I explain it may be from lack of exposure to people from overseas, and most likely it is just curiosity.

As Traverse City engages in business, educational and cultural initiatives globally, let’s hope that when international guests leave, they take positive memories of people who welcomed them and treated them with dignity and respect. Likewise, as we travel, that we leave an image of people open to listening, learning and sharing.

Please plan to join us for an immersion in Asian and Chinese topics with Chinese, American and global experts beginning in February. Participate in the IAF lectures, support this local conference and expand your global horizons.

(Originally posted at The Traverse City Record Eagle –


The hard part’s not over in ridding Syria of chemical weapons

It may not have been the result of grand strategy, but it looks like a face-saving political solution could allow us to step back from our plans to bomb Syria.

The president has agreed to take Secretary of State John Kerry’s suggestion to the United Nations Security Council that Syria turn over its chemical weapons stockpile to international inspection and control. The skeptics are already arguing that the rapid Russian and Syrian agreement to this offer is just a delaying tactic. Some are calling for the U.S. air and missile strikes to go ahead, despite the developments of the past few days. We ought to be ready to take “yes” for an answer, but it won’t be easy.

I spent three years negotiating arms control and nonproliferation regimes with the Soviet Union and Russia, and a year in Moscow implementing a chemical weapons destruction agreement. That experience tells me that the task ahead in Syria is going to be long and difficult. us

Chemical weapons come in two types: old-style weapons in which all the elements that can trigger a toxic chemical attack are in one bomb or container. In more recent times, nations began to deploy “binary” chemical weapons, in which the toxic agent and the chemical that would trigger the release of that deadly agent were in separate containers. These were considered safer and less susceptible to accidental release.

Destruction of such weapons will be a monumental task — and costly, too. The U.S. stockpile (30,000 tons) is far greater than Syria’s but our own experience should serve as a warning. Our stockpile is being destroyed but it is taking longer (more than 20 years) and costing far more than we envisioned when we agreed with Russia to each destroy our respective weapons and precursor chemicals.

When I negotiated with the Russian chemical weapons “czar” in Moscow, we were discussing the Soviet Union’s stockpile of 40,000 tons of chemical weapons, some dating back to World War I. That destruction effort is also still ongoing to this day. It required building destruction furnaces with sophisticated environmental protection systems, training destruction technicians for what would become a lifelong effort for many of them, and developing emergency plans should anything go wrong.

These obstacles are not reasons to reject our own proposal to bring Syria’s arsenal under control but will require us to approach this problem carefully and patiently. Syria has a large stockpile of the old style “unitary” weapons. They cannot be quickly rounded up and stored safely. With a civil war going on, we do not want to demand that the government quickly load these weapons on trucks, which might be hijacked, only to be taken to marshaling sites that do not yet exist.

The task of controlling weapons need not immediately require that they be moved, but will demand something like military or civilian “boots on the ground” to monitor this first stage in what will be a long and expensive process. If we approach this with Russia as a joint effort we just might be able to pull it off — both of us have the trained experts needed to do the job.

We managed to avert a further escalation of the Syrian civil war. A way ahead to remove Assad’s chemical arsenal from his control has begun. Now, we need the patience to go about this in a way that carries out the task without undue delay or imprudent haste. Pursuing this task in a cooperative approach with Russia might even allow us, together, to find common ground for resolving the fundamental problems underlying the Syrian civil war.

(Originally posted in The Detroit Free Press –


Political Activist and Best-Selling Author of Infidel with guest host Jack Segal - top NATO Adviser on Afghanistan and Former U.S. Diplomat. As one of today’s most admired and controversial political figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following the 2004 murder of her colleague, Theo van Gogh, at the hands of a religious fundamentalist. Ayaan was immediately forced into hiding, having written the screenplay for Theo’s Submission, a fierce 11-minute critique of Islam. The treatment of women in the Islamic religion has been a clarion call for the Somolia-born Ayaan. At age 22, she fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage to a stranger. Her move to this secular, democratic country proved a pivotal turning point in her life. She began advocating for downtrodden women, attended college and was elected to the Dutch parliament.

Ayaan’s memoir Infidel was an international best-seller, praised by The New York Times as “brave, inspiring and beautifully written.” A second book, Nomad, follows Ayaan as she leaves behind the emotional roller coaster of her life in Europe and takes on the new challenge of helping Americans acknowledge the challenge of radical Islam. Now a U.S. resident with her husband, well-known British historian Niall Ferguson, Ayaan is the founder of the AHA Foundation, which works to “protect and defend the rights of women and girls in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture.”

During this evening, co-sponsored with the International Affairs Forum, Ayaan will be in conversation with foreign policy expert Jack Segal. This is sure to be an evening during which the world’s headlines come to life on the NWS stage. Be prepared for a riveting conversation between the two on faith, women, politics, religion and culture in a changing century.

RELEASED - PHC Johnny Bivera, N00PH, CNO PAOCredit as U.S. Navy photo by Johnny Bivera

The Challenge of Moving on From 9/11

Two years ago, General Stan McChrystal – then Commander in Afghanistan – addressed his troops in Kandahar, “I’ll bet everyone here remembers what they were doing on 9/11.” Incautiously, he turned to the nearest soldier and asked him whether he recalled what he was doing that day. The soldier eagerly replied, “Yes Sir.  I was having the braces removed from my teeth.”

A new generation

Today, we have armed forces full of kids who were wearing braces on 9/11. They’re the shock troops of the “war on terror”. They’ve all seen the video of the twin towers coming down and the burning wreckage of the Pentagon and United 97, but they didn’t live that experience. They were children then; now they’re soldiers – “volunteers” from towns where jobs are scarce and the military looks like a better option than flipping burgers. These soldiers are being asked now to fight and die in that “war on terror” and we have a hard time explaining why.  Why 9/11 happened…why the “war on terror” seems it will never end…Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen.  So much terror to war against.

September 11, 2001:  I recall a photograph of a man dressed in a business suit falling through the air from high in one of the twin towers. He had chosen to die that way, rather than wait for the flames. Two hours earlier, his biggest decision had been which colour tie to wear.

After that day of horror, I returned home and asked my wife, “What do they want from us.” She replied, “They want us to know they exist.” That most horrific day woke us all to the reality that there are people out there who ‘exist’ and whose hatred for us is unbounded; who have grievances.

9/11 didn’t just happen. It didn’t begin in 2001. It forces us to consider what we did that made ‘them’ so angry, and to look forward and ask what, if anything, we might do to make things better.

So why are ‘they’ so angry at us? Perhaps it began when Iran’s elected government was replaced with the Shah (1953), when Afghan warlords and the likes of Osama bin Laden were armed and supported against the USSR (1979-89), when western governments supported Egypt’s Mubarak (1981-2011), when foreign troops were based in Saudi Arabia (1990-2003), or when the West lifted sanctions against a ‘rehabilitated’ Qadaffi (2006-2011).

The genesis of anger

Perhaps ‘they’ hate the fact that over 230,000 foreign troops are stationed today at bases across the Muslim world; that western nations have done little about the abuses of the King of Bahrain or the Assad regime because we need a home base for the US 5th fleet; that we talk of an ‘enduring partnership’ with a corrupt Afghan elite; that a lunatic cleric in the USA burns copies of the Holy Quran; that slurs against Muslims spew from the lips of high officials…such signals cause them to believe the worst of us.

To many Muslims, we don’t seem to stand for the things that make us great: democracy, respect for human dignity, fairness. Much has been cast aside in the name of this ‘war on terror’. As Bobby Kennedy said during his 1966 tour of South Africa, we must stand for something – it’s not enough to stand against that which we fear.

But we must not blame ourselves for 9/11. The blame rests squarely with a tiny Muslim minority. Violent, extremist Mullahs have taken over in some parts of the Muslim world. Western Pakistan is loaded with them. Yemen and Somalia have more than their fair share.  They gain traction wherever lack of opportunity and a visible foreign military presence intersect with a disdain for our standards of morality and human rights.

They question our goals in their countries; in their homes. They believe that we want to steal their land and their women, and that we dishonour their religion. A small but determined group among them has set their sights on violently lashing out against our society: 9/11, Madrid, London, the near-miss on that airliner bound for Detroit.   They hope to sap our strength through endless wars of attrition.  Bin Laden had that dream. The voices countering these extremists are few and live in fear for their lives. Clearly, the ‘war on terror’ has only just begun.

We must begin to ask what we can do to prove to the believers in Islam that we can co-exist – that we now know that they ‘exist’. We can’t solve the problems of all the Muslim world’s poor and frustrated.  But we can begin to remove our troops from places where they’re not wanted – Afghanistan, first and foremost. We can also reduce our dependence on resources that tie us to despots, reassess our friendship with nations whose policies we should abhor and demand that our leaders look beyond drone attacks and military surges for ways to engage with a generation of young Muslims who are waiting to see whether we are who we say we are. That’s the challenge of 9/11. We owe it to the victims that day, and since.

(Originally posted at –