MSC Speaker and Panelist Profiles

Darshana M. Baruah, Non-Resident Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Ms. Darshana M. Baruah is a non-resident scholar with the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and is also concurrently a visiting fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Tokyo, where she is working on a book about the significance of strategic islands in the Indian Ocean region. Previously, Ms. Baruah was the associate director and senior research analyst at Carnegie India, where she led the center’s initiative on maritime security, and her research included work on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Prior to this, Ms. Baruah was a 2016 national parliamentary fellow at the Australian Parliament and a visiting fellow at both the Australian National University in Canberra and the Lowy Institute in Sydney, where she focused on India-Australia maritime collaboration. Presently, her primary research focuses are on maritime security in Asia and the role of the Indian Navy in a new security architecture, and the strategic implications of China’s infrastructure and connectivity projects.

Dr. James BOUTILIER, Royal Canadian Navy (ret)

Dr. James (Jim) Boutilier (ret) was the Special Advisor in International Engagement at Maritime Forces Pacific, the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) west coast naval formation for 23 years, where he was responsible for advising senior RCN leadership on current geopolitical and maritime security issues in the Indo-Pacific. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Boutilier taught history at the Royal Roads Military College for 24 years. He has published widely on international defence and security issues, including “RCN in Retrospect” (1982), and in Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter and Canadian Institute of International Affairs.  Dr. Boutilier earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of London, his M.A. in History from McMaster University, and his B.A. in History from Dalhousie University. 


Tim CHOI, University of Calgary 

Mr. Tim CHOI is a doctoral candidate at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military, Security, and Strategic Studies (CMSS), where he is researching seapower and maritime strategy in the 21st century, and the influence of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the maritime strategies of countries with smaller navies in peacetime, with case studies involving the circumpolar countries of Denmark, Norway, and Canada.. He served as the 2017-18 Smith Richardson Predoctoral Fellow in Naval, Maritime, and Strategic Studies at Yale University, under the mentorship of Professor Paul Kennedy. Mr. Choi received his Master’s of Strategic Studies from CMSS, where his thesis looked at the challenges facing the US Navy in the realm of mine warfare and the strategic consequences of this capability gap.

Relevant works: 

“Ready to Secure: A Sea Control Perspective on Canadian Fisheries Enforcement.” Grey and White Hulls: An International Analysis of the Navy-Coastguard Nexus, eds Ian Bowers and Collin Koh Swee Lean

“Sea Control by Other Means: Norwegian Coast Guard Operations under International Maritime Law.” Ocean Development and International Law, July 2019.

Captain (Navy) Julian Elbourne, Chief of Staff Plans & Operations, Maritime Forces Pacific

Capt(N) Julian Elbourne joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 and began his naval career as a Bridge Watchkeeper with HMCS Gatineau during its deployment to NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic. He subsequently served as the Navigation Officer of HMC Ships Cormorant and Terra Nova, then advanced to become the Weapons – and then Combat Officer – of HMCS Halifax, including for deployments as part of Canada’s initial response to the 9/11 attacks. After completing staff college in 2008, Capt(N) Elbourne was appointed as Executive Officer of HMCS St. John’s. After several additional staff posts, he was appointed as Commanding Officer of HMCS Protecteur in 2013, during which he successfully led the ship to safety through a catastrophic engine room fire in  February 2014. In part due to his leadership during the Protecteur incident, Capt(N) Elbourne received command of HMCS Calgary. After completing his service with Calgary, Capt(N) Elbourne assumed posts as head of Naval Fleet School Pacific and Deputy Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, and was promoted to his current rank and position in 2019, where he has tirelessly worked to direct the Canadian Armed Forces response in British Columbia to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shiloh FETZEK, The Center for Climate & Security 

Ms. Shiloh FETZEK is Senior Fellow for International Affairs at the Center for Climate and Security, and Research Coordinator for the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS). Shiloh leads international programs at the Center, and chairs the primary collaborative forum for international cooperation on climate change and security, the Climate and Security Working Group-International (CSWG-I). She previously led climate security research projects at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, and was Senior Research Associate for Environment, Climate Change and Security at International Alert. Ms. Fetzek’s research interests include the social and political repercussions of rapid, large-scale ecological change and their interplay with other drivers of insecurity, including demographic dynamics. At International Alert, she contributes to the New Climate for Peace project commissioned by the G7 Foreign Ministers, along with other research and policy initiatives. As Head of the Climate Change and Security Programme at RUSI, she led two projects in collaboration with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on China and Mexico/Central America. She holds a BA in Justice and Peace Studies from the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota, and an MA in International Politics and Security Studies from the University of Bradford’s Peace Studies department in the United Kingdom.

Relevant works: 

Japanese Industry in an Unstable Climate: Reducing Exposure to the Security Implications of Climate Change”

“Europe’s Responsibility to Prepare: Managing Climate Security Risks in a Changing World”

Captain George GALDORISI (United States Navy, Retired), Director of Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, U.S. Navy

Captain (United States Navy retired) George GALDORISI is Director of Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures at the U.S. Navy’s Command and Control Center of Excellence in San Diego, California. Prior to his current post, he completed a 30-year career as a naval aviator, including 14 years of service as executive officer, commanding officer, and chief of staff, including two aviation commands and two shipboard commands. His last operational assignment spanned five years as Chief of Staff for Cruiser-Destroyer Group Three, embarked in the USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln for deployments to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. Mr. Galdorisi has written 10 books, including the New York Times best seller Act of Valor, the novelization of the Relativity Media film, and The Kissing Sailor, which proved the identity of the two principals in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous WWII photograph. Additionally, he has published more than three hundred articles in professional journals and newspapers, including MIT Management, Harvard International Review, Ocean Development and International Law, Naval Institute Proceedings, Wall Street Journal, Naval War College Review, and Joint Forces Quarterly. Mr. Galdorisi graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy and holds a Master’s Degree in oceanography from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and a Master’s Degree in international relations from the University of San Diego.

Relevant works: 

“The Navy Needs AI, It’s Just Not Certain Why”

“Unleash Directed-Energy Weapons”

“Autonomous Unmanned Systems Give Amphibious Assault an Edge”

Dr. Tarcisius KABUTAULAKA, Center for Pacific Islands Studies 

Dr. Tarcisius KABUTAULAKA is director of the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a position he has held since August 2018, after joining the Center in 2009. Prior to his work at the Center, Dr. Kabutaulaka was a research fellow at the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program for six years, and he taught history and political science at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. He is also the editor of the Pacific Islands Monograph Series, the founding editor of Oceania Currents, a member of the editorial board of The Contemporary Pacific, and has published extensively on the Solomon Islands, Australia’s interventions in the Pacific Islands, and China in Oceania. Furthermore, Dr. Kabutaulaka served as a chief negotiator in Solomon Islands peace talks in 2000, amid ethnic conflict from 1998-2003. He received his PhD from Australian National University and his undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the University of the South Pacific.

Dr. Collin KOH, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies 

Dr. Collin KOH Swee Lean is a research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. Dr. Koh has written extensively on naval and maritime security affairs in Southeast Asia, including “Naval Modernisation in Southeast Asia, Part Two: Submarine Issues for Small and Medium Navies” (with Geoffrey Till), and routinely publishes in outlets such as The National Interest, South China Morning Post, The Diplomat, and Channel News Asia. He has also taught the Singapore Armed Forces professional military education and training courses. Dr. Koh earned both his Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from RSIS, and his B.Eng. from NTU.

Relevant works: 

Collin Koh Swee Lean, “Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance in the South China Sea,” in Leszek Buszynski and Do Thanh Hai (eds.), The South China Sea: From a Regional Maritime Dispute to Geo-strategic Competition

Collin Koh Swee Lean, “China-India Rivalry at Sea: Capability, trends and challenges,” Asian Security, Special Issue (2018)

Captain (Navy) Alex Kooiman, Maritime Forces Pacific Chief of Staff Support

Captain (Navy) Kooiman joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a Regular Officer Training Plan cadet in 1988 and, after completing initial Naval Warfare Officer training in 1993 on board minesweepers and destroyers, he decided that a career beneath the waves was the way forward. He served in Her Majesty’s Canadian Submarines Okanagan, Windsor, Corner Brook, and Victoria, and also had the opportunity to navigate the Royal Netherlands Navy Submarine Walrus during a three-year exchange to the Netherlands, where he was awarded his Dutch Dolphins. He was honoured to command Corner Brook between July 2009 and May 2011, and Victoria between July 2013 and July 2015. Capt(N) Kooiman’s shore postings include Commander Submarine Sea Training; region head for Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean at Canadian Joint Operations Command; and Deputy Director Digital Navy at the Naval Staff. He assumed his current position as Maritime Forces Pacific Chief of Staff Support in July 2020.

Commodore Peter LEAVY, Royal Australian Navy 

Commodore LEAVY joined the Royal Australian Naval College in 1984 and transferred to the inaugural graduating year of the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1986. In 2002 he completed the Australian Command and Staff Course, graduating with a Masters of Management (Defence Studies). In January 2003 he posted to Navy Headquarters in Canberra as the Deputy Director Future Maritime Warfare, but was immediately seconded as the Chief of Staff to Commander Task Group 633.1 operating in the North Arabian Gulf during OPERATION FALCONER (Iraq). He was selected to command HMAS Stuart in 2004, and later assumed duties as the Director of the Sea Power Centre – Australia upon promotion to Captain in January 2007. In 2011 he was posted to Canberra as the Director of Navy Personnel Policy in August before being promoted to Commodore and posted as Director General Navy People in May 2012 and then as Commodore Warfare in January 2013. He posted as the Australian Naval Attaché to the United States in June 2016 and joined the Australian Defence Force Academy as Commandant on 11 February 2019. CDRE Leavy holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Master of Arts (Maritime Policy) and a Master of Management (Defence Studies).

Dr. NGUYEN Hung Son, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam 

Dr. NGUYEN Hung Son is Director-General, Head of the Institute for the South China Sea (or Bien Dong Institute for Maritime Studies) of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. Prior to his current designation, Nguyen Hung Son was Deputy Director-General of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. His research focused on major powers relations and foreign policies, regional security governance, particularly maritime security, and the foreign policy of Vietnam. As a diplomat, Dr. Nguyen served as Minister Counselor of the Vietnam Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, and Second Secretary of the Vietnam Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. He also served as Director of Political Affairs Division at the ASEAN Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during which period he extensively participated in regional summits, and had hands on experience on many regional processes and issues involving ASEAN. He was member of the Vietnam High Level Task Force delegation negotiating the ASEAN Charter in 2006-2007. Dr. Nguyen acquired his BA degree from the National Economic University of Vietnam, an MSc degree on International Economics from Birmingham University of the United Kingdom, and a Ph.D on International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

Commodore Angus Topshee, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, Royal Canadian Navy

Commodore Angus Topshee joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 and spent his first four years at the Royal Military College of Canada, including a six-month term on exchange at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Upon graduation from RMC, he earned a Masters of Literature in Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. After six years of schooling, Cmdre Topshee started formal officer training in 1996 and then joined his first ship, HMCS Winnipeg, in 1997.

Cmdre Topshee’s command roles began with an appointment as the Executive Officer of HMCS St. John’s in 2006 and HMCS Toronto in July 2007. In July 2009, he began serving as Commanding Officer of HMCS Algonquin, the flagship of Canada’s Pacific Fleet, with deployments including Op PODIUM (security for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics), and Op PACIFIC AMISTAD (a five-month deployment in the central and western Pacific). After completing his command of Algonquin, Cmdre Topshee deployed to Afghanistan as part of the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, where he spent a year in Kabul as the Director of Afghan National Police Training Operations. Upon his return from Afghanistan, Cmdre Topshee spent six months working with the Canadian Fleet Pacific Staff leading up to his role as the Director of Operations for RIMPAC 2012.

From the summer of 2012, Cmdre Topshee assumed command of Canadian Forces Base Halifax for three years, was then assigned as the Deputy Director of the Strategy, Policy and Plans Directorate North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) in Colorado. He assumed his current role as leader of Canada’s west coast naval fleet in July 2018.

Dr. Michael PETERSEN, Russia Maritime Studies Institute 

Dr. Michael PETERSEN is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Russia Maritime Studies Institute at the US Naval War College, where he focuses on high-intensity maritime warfare, and Russia’s naval capabilities. Prior to his current appointment, he served in a variety of advisory and policy positions in the US government. He is the author of “Missiles for the Fatherland: Peenemuende, National Socialism, and the V-2 Missile”, and he has published in outlets such as The National Interest and War on the Rocks. Dr. Petersen earned his PhD in history from the University of Maryland.

Relevant work: 

“The Naval Power Shift in the Black Sea”

Greg POLING, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative 

Mr. Greg POLING is the Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and a senior fellow with the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, D.C. He oversees research on U.S. foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific, with a focus on the maritime domain and Southeast Asia. He has testified before the US Congress on China’s military power projection, and has been published widely in Foreign Affairs, Nikkei Asian Review, War on the Rocks, and the Wall Street Journal, among many others. Mr. Poling earned his M.A. in international affairs from American University, and a B.A. in history and philosophy from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Relevant works:

“The Conventional Wisdom on China’s Island Bases is Dangerously Wrong”

“For Lack of a Strategy: The Free and Open Indo-Pacific”

“Have We Already Lost the South China Sea?”

Rear-Admiral David PROCTOR, Royal New Zealand Navy 

Rear Admiral (RADM) David Proctor was born in Napier, New Zealand and joined the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) as a Midshipman in January 1987. RADM Proctor assumed the role of Chief of Navy on 29 November 2018 following numerous senior positions within the New Zealand Defence Force, including Deputy Commander Joint Forces New Zealand and Acting Vice Chief of Defence Force from July to September 2018. RADM Proctor has held a number of senior logistics posts during his career, including operational logistics appointments at sea and overseas. His operational service includes a deployment to the Solomon Islands and being appointed Chief of Logistics, United Nations Mission and the New Zealand Senior National Officer in Support of East Timor. Whilst RADM Proctor’s early shore-based appointments were primarily in the Human Resources arena, he also has staff experience in capability development and delivery. Most notable was his appointment as Deputy Assistant Chief of Capability and Director Capability Portfolio Planning in 2013-14. Following on from his promotion to Commodore and appointment to Commander Logistics in December 2015, RADM Proctor was posted at short notice in March 2017 to the position of Chief of Defence Strategy and Governance. This appointment saw him as a member of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Executive and as a permanent advisor to the NZDF Board. RADM Proctor has a Masters in Management (Defence Studies), a Masters in Politics and Policy, and is a graduate and fellow of the Centre for Defence Strategic Studies (Canberra). He is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors and has also been awarded a Deputy Chief of Navy Commendation.

Roland RAJAH, Lowy Institute 

Mr. Roland Rajah is the Director of the International Economy Program at the Lowy Institute. Before joining the Lowy Institute Roland was a Senior Economist and Country Manager at the Asian Development Bank, where he worked on macro-fiscal policy, economic growth, and development issues in the Pacific region. Prior to this Roland was based in Indonesia with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, managing a wide-ranging economic reform advisory program covering macroeconomics, public finance, trade and investment policy, and the financial sector. Roland has also worked in the Economics Advisory Group of the Australian Agency for International Development and the International Department of the Reserve Bank of Australia, with a focus on emerging and developing economies. Roland has a Masters in International and Development Economics from the Australian National University, where he was awarded the Helen Hughes Prize for International and Development Economics.

Relevant works: 

“The US-China Trade War: Who Dominates Global Trade?”

“East Asia’s Decoupling”

Nadège ROLLAND, National Bureau of Asian Research 

Ms. Nadège ROLLAND is a Senior Fellow for Political and Security Affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), where she focuses on China’s foreign and defence policies, and changes in regional dynamics across Eurasia that result from China’s rise. Prior to joining NBR, Ms. Rolland was a research analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore from 2007-8, and an analyst and senior advisor on Asian and Chinese strategic issues at the French Ministry of Defence from 1994-2014. She is the author of “China’s Eurasian Century? Political and Strategic Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative” and her works have appeared in publications such as Foreign Policy, BBC World Service, Wall Street Journal, and The Diplomat. Ms. holds Master’s degrees in Chinese language and Contemporary Chinese Studies from the National Institute of Oriental Languages & Civilizations, and Strategic Studies from RSIS.

Relevant works: 

“China’s Vision for a New World Order”

“Securing the Belt and Road: Prospects for Chinese Military Engagement Along the Silk Roads”

Alexander WALKER, Oil Companies International Marine Forum

Mr. Alexander Walker represents the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF). Since 2009 with OCIMF he has advised the US fifth Fleet in Bahrain on Maritime Industry security and environmental issues. He has also acted as Industry Adviser on all of the US and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) led International Maritime Mine Counter Measure Exercises in the Middle East. He has participated in Naval and MTO/NCAG events in the US, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Previously he was Vice President, Operations, Chevron Shipping Co. LLC. Mr. Walker was responsible for leading the organization that operates Chevron’s vessels which transport crude oil, gas and petroleum products worldwide. A director of a number of Chevron affiliates, Mr. Walker was also a director of the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF), a director of Silver Fern Shipping (New Zealand), an alternate director of Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and is a member of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).