Darshana M. Baruah
Fellow, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Lieutenant-Commander Ryan Bell
Former Executive Officer of HMCS Harry DeWolf
LCdr Ryan Bell is a Naval Warfare Officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, and is currently a Project Director within the Directorate of Naval Requirements in Ottawa, working on procurement projects related to underwater weapons and sensors. With a background in Navigation, LCdr Bell has deployed to the Canadian Arctic on numerous occasions, most recently as the Executive Officer of HMCS Harry DeWolf, which saw the ship become the first Canadian warship to transit the North West Passage since 1954, while also circumnavigating North America.
Rear-Admiral (retired) Jennifer Bennett, CMM, CD
Rear-Admiral (retired) Jennifer Bennett has been able to successfully pursue two concurrent careers, one with the Canadian Armed Forces as a member of Canada’s Reserve Force and the other as a teacher and school administrator. She retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in December 2019 after serving for more than 44 years, rising through the ranks to assume key institutional leadership positions and was a trailblazer who became Canada’s first female Rear-Admiral, leading and influencing significant change across the institution.
A native of Hamilton, Ontario, she enrolled in the Naval Reserve in 1975 in HMCS STAR and served full and part-time in a variety of training, staff, leadership, and command positions across Canada while also working as a teacher and school administrator in elementary and secondary schools in Ontario and British Columbia.
Jennifer Bennett holds a Bachelor of Physical Education from McMaster University, a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University, a Master of Arts in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University Victoria, an Honourary Doctorate from University of Alberta (Doctor of Laws) and an Honourary Doctorate from McMaster University (Doctor of Science). She is also a graduate of the Canadian Forces Staff School, Canadian Forces Staff College, NATO School and NATO Defence
Promoted to Captain (Navy) in January 2000 she was appointed Director of Reserves within the Chief of Reserves and Cadets Division in National Defence Headquarters and Branch Advisor for the Cadet Instructor Cadre. Other national appointments include Director Professional Development and Director of the Ottawa Detachment of the Canadian Defence Academy, Director of Training and Education Policy and Project Director (Military) for the Defence Learning Network.
Promoted to the rank of Commodore on December 1st, 2007, upon appointment as the Commander of Canada’s Naval Reserve, she commanded the Formation until January 2011. In 2010, she also served as the Team Leader for the Naval Strategic Analysis Team shifting the Navy from an organizational model based on geography to a functional model to address the Navy’s personnel and operational challenges.
Promoted to Rear-Admiral in April 2011, she was appointed as Canada’s Chief of Reserves and Cadets, the most senior Reserve officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and champion for Canada’s Reserve Force, employer support program and the two DND sponsored youth programs, Cadets and Junior
Rear Admiral Christopher J. Cavanaugh
Director, Maritime Headquarters, United States Navy
Rear Admiral Christopher Cavanaugh is the Director, Maritime Headquarters with the United States Navy. Prior to his current appointment, his staff assignments included serving as a strategic planner and action officer in the Strategy and Policy Division for the Chief of Naval Operations, submarine executive officer and post-executive officer detailer in the Submarine and Nuclear Officer Distribution Division for Commander, Navy Personnel Command, and chief of the Program and Budget Branch for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Most recently, he served as director of the Submarine and Nuclear Officer Distribution Division for Commander, Navy Personnel Command and as Nuclear Propulsion Program Manager for the Chief of Naval Personnel.
His operational assignments include serving as a division officer in USS Portsmouth, engineer officer in USS Charlotte, executive officer in USS Asheville, commanding officer of USS Albuquerque, and commander of Submarine Squadron 11. During those tours, he completed six submarine deployments to the Indo-Pacific.
As commanding officer of USS Albuquerque, he led a crew that completed two successful Western Pacific deployments, earned a Navy Unit Commendation, and was awarded the Submarine Squadron 11 Battle Efficiency “E.” As commander of Submarine Squadron 11 in San Diego, he oversaw five fast-attack submarines, a floating dry dock, an undersea rescue unit, and the local radiological emergency response organization. During that tour, he deployed to Argentina as commander of Task Group 46 to lead search and rescue efforts for a missing submarine, ARA San Juan.
Cavanaugh’s decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and campaign, unit, and service awards.
Rear Admiral Cavanaugh is a native of Convoy, Ohio and a 1993 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He earned master’s degrees from the University of California at Berkeley in Nuclear Engineering and from the Catholic University of America in Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Tim Choi
University of Calgary
Dr. Tim Choi recently received his PhD 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.
“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.
Bernard D. Cole
He has written many articles and chapters, and eight books, most recently China’s Quest for Great Power: Ships, Oil, and Foreign Policy, published in November 2016. Cole was named U.S. Naval Institute Press “Author of the Year” for 2014.
Cole served as a Professor of Maritime Strategy at the National War College from 1995 to 2015, He also led many student and faculty delegations to China.
Cole then taught for two years at Georgetown University and currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses. He has also lectured widely throughout the United States and internationally.
Cole earned an A.B. in History (University of North Carolina), M.P.A. in National Security Affairs (University of Washington), and Ph.D. in History (Auburn University).
Rear Admiral Jun Yong-ku
Director General KSS-III Program Group, Republic of Korea Navy
Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jun Yong-ku has been serving as the Director General of the KSS-III Program since December 2020. He successfully delivered the first submarine of the KSS-III Program, ROKS Dosan Ahn Changho (SS-083), to the ROK Navy in August 2021. He previously served at the ROK Submarine Force Command for 15 years, during which time he commanded ROKS Yi Sun-sin (SS-068) and ROKS An Jung-geun (SS-075), and served as the Chief of the Submarine Operations Office. RAdm Jun also served in the Ministry of National Defense for the Defense Reform 2.0 from 2018-20. He became the Director General of Resource Management Reform and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 2020. RAdm Jun graduated from the ROK Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Arts in international relations, and holds a Master’s degree in Defense Management from the National Defense University of Korea.
Dr. Tarcisius Kabutaulaka
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Dr. Tarcisius Kabutaulaka is an associate professor at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Prior to joining the Center in 2009, 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.
Gary C. Kessler, Ph.D., CISSP
Principal Consultant, Fathom5
Gary C. Kessler, Ph.D., CISSP, is a principal consultant at Fathom5, providing secure operational technology and maritime IT systems, and president of Gary Kessler Associates (Ormond Beach, Florida), a consulting, research, and training company specializing in maritime cybersecurity, digital forensics, and network protocols. He is the co-author of “Maritime Cybersecurity: A Guide for Leaders and Managers,” 2nd ed., a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and a retired professor of cybersecurity. Gary has been involved in the information security field since the late-1970s; his latest research efforts have been related to AIS security. He is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, where he holds a national-level cybersecurity position, is active in National Marine Electronics Associates (NMEA) standards development, is a SCUBA instructor, and holds a 50 GT merchant mariner credential. More information can be found at https://www.garykessler.net.
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.
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)
Commodore Peter Leavy
Chief of Staff, Joint Operations Command, Australian Defence Force
Commodore Peter Leavy is the Chief of Staff at the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Operations Command, a position he took up in January 2022. Commodore Leavy began his naval career by joining the Royal Australian Naval College in 1984, and later transferring 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 in February 2019. Cmdre. Leavy holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Master of Arts (Maritime Policy) and a Master of Management (Defence Studies).
Dr. Aditi Malhotra
Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Army Journal
Dr. Aditi Malhotra is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Army Journal. Previously, she was a co-editor of the Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies at Graz and a Visiting Fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., as well as the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo. Prior to that, she was a Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Advanced Studies and an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) in India, where she was also the deputy editor of Scholar Warrior, a bi-annual journal. Dr. Malhotra writes on security issues in the Indo-Pacific region and nuclear deterrence in South Asia, and she engages regularly in Track II dialogues focusing on nuclear deterrence and escalation dynamics. Dr. Malhotra obtained a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Muenster and a Master of International Studies from the University of Sheffield.
Malhotra, Aditi. 2022. Understanding Security Role Evolution of US, China and India Setting the Stage. Routledge India
Malhotra, Aditi. 2022. India in the Indo-Pacific: Understanding India’s Security Orientation towards Southeast and East Asia. Verlag Barbara Budrich
Chair of the Department of History, Criminal Justice and Political Science, Campbell University
Sal Mercogliano is the Chair of the Department of History, Criminal Justice and Political Science at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. He is a former merchant mariner, having worked both afloat and ashore, and an adjunct instructor for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He is the author of Fourth Arm of Defense: Sealift and Military Logistics during the Vietnam War. In 2019, he won Second Place in the Chief of Naval Operations Essay Contest with his submission, Suppose There Was a War and the Merchant Marine Didn’t Come? He is a frequent contributor to gCaptain, Sea History, the Center for International Maritime Security, the United States Naval Institute Proceedings and Sea History magazine. He is a trustee of the National Maritime Historical Society, Vice President of the North American Society for Oceanic History, and on the Advisory Council for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Mercogliano the hosts The Maritime History Channel podcast and What’s Going on With Shipping on YouTube. The latter is a new endeavor that attempts to explain the global shipping to general public and delve deeper into shipping stories and news. He is a frequent contributor and commentator on the intersection between commercial and military shipping and is currently working on several productions regarding the grounding of MV Ever Given in the Suez Canal in March 2021. He holds a BS in Marine Transportation from the State University of New York Maritime College, a MA in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology from East Carolina University and a Ph.D. in Military and Naval History from the University of Alabama.
Dr. Kerry Nankivell
Director of Strategic Assessments, Assistant Deputy Minister Policy, Canada Department of National Defence
Dr. Kerry Lynn Nankivell assumed the role of Director of Strategic Assessments in the Policy Branch of Canada’s Department of National Defence in April 2022. She has served in many national security and defence positions in both government and academia, including as Deputy Director for Asia-Pacific and the Americas in the National Security and Intelligence Advisor’s Intelligence Assessment Secretariat at the Privy Council Office, and as a senior analyst with the National Security team at Public Safety Canada. From 2008-18, Dr. Nankivell worked as a defence academic with the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies based in Honolulu, where she supported U.S. Department of Defense capacity-building programs in maritime security sector development, cooperation at sea, ocean governance, and strategy and decision-making. Her writing has appeared in Asian Security, Ocean Development and International Law, Cambridge Review of International Affairs and Canadian Naval Review. Her blogs have been published with Policy Options, The Diplomat, and the National Bureau of Asian Research’s Maritime Awareness Project. She is the editor of Chinese-Japanese Competition in the East Asian Security Complex (Routledge, 2017) and has contributed chapters to several collaborative volumes. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies at King’s College London. Dr. Nankivell earned her PhD from King’s College London, an MPhil from Cambridge University, UK, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with International Relations from the University of British Columbia.
Director, Political-Security Affairs, Asia Society Policy Institute
Ms. Elina Noor is Director of Political-Security Affairs and Deputy Director of Washington, D.C. office at the Asia Society Policy Institute. A native of Malaysia, Elina’s work focuses on security developments in Southeast Asia, global governance and technology, and preventing and countering violent extremism. Previously, Ms. Noor was an Associate Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. Prior to that, she was Director of Foreign Policy and Security Studies at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia. She was also formerly with the Brookings Institution’s Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. Between 2017 and 2019, Ms. Noor was a member of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace. She currently serves on the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Global Advisory Board on digital threats during conflict. Ms. Noor read law at Oxford University and earned a LL.M. (Public International Law) from the London School of Economics and a Master’s in Security Studies from Georgetown University, where she was a Women in International Security Scholar.
Non-Resident Senior Fellow for the Indo-Pacific at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Cleo Paskal is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow for the Indo-Pacific at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Washington, D.C. She has testified before the U.S. Congress, regularly moderates/lectures for training seminars for the U.S. Military, and has taught at defense colleges in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, India and Oman.
From 2006 to 2022, she was an Associate Fellow at Chatham House where, among other responsibilities, she was research lead on the multi-year futures project ‘Perspectives on Strategic Shifts in the Indo-Pacific 2019-2024’. She also led a multi-year research project based at the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales de l’Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM), where she is a Visiting Fellow, looking at the evolving geopolitical dynamics of the Indo-Pacific, with a particular focus on the Pacific Islands. In addition, she commissioned and edited the multi-authored ‘Oceania in 2018’ series for the East-West Center in Washington D.C.
She is widely published in the academic and popular press and has written for (among many others): The Diplomat, Defense News, The Telegraph, South China Morning Post, The Australian, Japan Times, The World Today, International Affairs, and is currently the North America Special Correspondent for The Sunday Guardian (India) newspaper.
Other affiliations include: Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs Institute; Collaborator, Network for Strategic Analysis; Senior Fellow, Usanas Foundation (India); International Board of Advisors, Kalinga Institute of Indo-Pacific Studies; International Board of Advisors, Global Counter-Terrorism Council; Member, Indo-Pacific Studies Group Member (Japan), Japan-Melanesia Studies group.
Dr. Daniel Pauly
Principal Investigator, Sea Around Us Project, University of British Columbia
Dr. Daniel Pauly is a Professor at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia, and has been the Principal Investigator at the Sea Around Us Project, also at UBC, since 1999. Dr. Pauly has developed and co-developed numerous concepts, methods, and software on global fisheries and marine ecosystems, which are used by organizations worldwide. His work has been featured in many publications, including The New York Times and Science. Dr. Pauly earned his Ph.D. in Fisheries Biology from the University of Kiel, and he was knighted as Chevalier de la Légion D’Honneur in 2017 in recognition of his work.
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.
Senior Fellow and Director, Southeast Asia Program and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Center for Strategic & International Studies
Mr. Gregory Poling directs the Southeast Asia Program and the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, which provides world-class satellite imagery analysis and commentary on regional security issues. Mr Poling is one of the foremost experts on the South China Sea, and he conducts research on U.S. alliances and partnerships, democratization and governance in Southeast Asia, and maritime security across the Indo-Pacific. Mr. Poling is regularly featured in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the Wall Street Journal, and he regularly co-hosts informative discussions on the Southeast Asia Radio podcast. His recently published book, On Dangerous Ground: America’s Century in the South China Sea, became the #1 Amazon military history and international law new release. Mr. Poling received an MA in international affairs from American University, and a BA in history and philosophy from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Captain Patrick C. Thien, Deputy Director, US Navy Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center
Captain Patrick C. Thien is the Deputy Director of the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, Mine Warfare Technical Division. Prior to his current appointment, Capt. Thien was Commanding Officer of USS Whirlwind and Patrol Coastal Crew Delta in 2004, before reporting to USS Freedom and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Crew 101 as Executive Officer in July 2010 until May 2012, when he assumed command of Crew 101. During his time in command, LCS CREW 101 completed the first multi-crew hull swap on board USS Fort Worth and the first overseas crew swap during the maiden deployment of Freedom to the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet. In 2015, Capt. Thien executed the first-ever Third Fleet Forward deployment of a Strike Group to the Western Pacific. In 2018, he reported to Mine Countermeasures Squadron Three as Commodore. During his time in command, he led the first extended deployment of an Avenger-class ship in over 10 years, served as the first Commodore for LCS Mine Division Twelve and led Multinational Mine Countermeasure Forces during exercise Vigilant Shield and BALTOPS 2019. In 2006, Capt. Thien attend the U.S. Naval War College and graduated with a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies and Joint Professional Military Education Phase One (JPME I), and he returned to the War College and completed his JPME Phase II in 2015.
Rear Admiral (US Navy, retired) Dr. David Titley
Founder, RV Weather, retired Professor and retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral
Dr. David Titley is the founder of RV Weather, a company dedicated to providing actionable weather information and recommendations to the Recreational Vehicle community. Previously, he served in the United States Navy for 32 years and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. His naval career included duties as Commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy; and Deputy Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance. He also served as Senior Military Assistant for the Director, Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. One of Dr. Titley’s career highlights came in 2009, when he initiated and led the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations, the chief operating officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He has served on numerous advisory boards and National Academies of Science committees, including the CNA Military Advisory Board, the Board of Directors for the Council on Strategic Risks, the Science and the National Academy of Science Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. Dr. Titley now spends his time volunteering for the U.S. National Park Service where he works the interface between wildlife and visitors in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
Vice-Admiral (VAdm) Angus Topshee
38th Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)
VAdm Topshee joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 and first four years were spent at the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada, which included a six-month exchange at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Upon graduation from RMC in 1994, he was awarded the Canada Memorial Scholarship and, in 1996, earned a Masters of Literature in Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
After six years of schooling, VAdm Topshee finally started formal naval warfare officer training in 1996 and then joined his first ship, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg, in 1997. He was incredibly fortunate to spend the next nine years largely at sea and completed a succession of very rewarding tours and operational deployments as a Navigating Officer, Operations Officer, and Combat Officer on Canada’s Pacific coast.
In 2005, he was selected to attend the “NSC 10” course at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. That fantastic year was followed by appointment as the Executive Officer (XO) of HMCS St. John’s in 2006 and then HMCS Toronto in July 2007. In July 2009, he was given command of HMCS Algonquin, the flagship of Canada’s Pacific Fleet. His time aboard Algonquin was easily the highlight of his career and included high readiness workups, Op Podium (security for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics), and Op Pacific Amistad (a five-month deployment in the Central and Western Pacific). He next participated in the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A), where he spent a year based in Kabul as the Director of Afghan National Police Training Operations. Upon his return from Afghanistan, VAdm Topshee spent six months working with the Canadian Fleet Pacific staff leading up to his role as the Director of Operations for Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2012.
In the summer of 2012, VAdm Topshee was honoured to assume command of Canadian Forces Base Halifax, a position he held for three years. He then attended the National Security Programme at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto before being promoted to Commodore and assigned as the Deputy Director of the Strategy, Policy and Plans Directorate at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. In July 2018, VAdm Topshee returned to the West Coast to take command of Canadian Fleet Pacific. He was then promoted to Rear-Admiral and took command of Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific from May 2021-22.
In May 2022, VAdm Topshee was promoted to his current rank, and assumed Command of the RCN.
Neil has been a community leader and business development senior executive for major corporations following a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy spanning four decades. Neil was a carrier strike aviator and veteran of global deployments. He has planned, directed and led air combat operations worldwide. Neil was the carrier battle force [4 aircraft carrier strike groups] precision strike planner and C6ISR coordinator during Operation Desert Storm.
Neil was the United States Central Command Air Operations Chief and cruise missile program manager. He managed multiple, global Joint Task Force deployments. He was Chief of Combined Air Operations Centers. He managed joint C6ISR systems in support of international operations including unmanned systems and precision strike planning. Neil has logged over 250 hours in the AWACS as the Airborne Command Element (ACE). Neil was involved in development and startup operations of the Command Centers including integration of Coalition and Allied partners. He was the CENTCOM program manager for the transition of CTAPS to TBMCS (including the first instantiation of Unmanned Systems into the Air Tasking Order).
Neil led the United States Third Fleet maritime experimentation for US Pacific Command/Fleet Experimentation (FLEX) with focus areas of C6ISR, afloat/deployed Joint Operations Center development, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief and Unmanned Systems. He also led Pacific Fleet requirements development for a broad spectrum of new, innovative, emerging technology.
Upon leaving active duty, Neil joined Lockheed Martin and was the West Coast/Pacific/Pacific Rim business development Corporate Lead Executive. Neil was the Pacific team lead for the Joint Strike Fighter, LCS and multiple satellite program capture teams. After the successful award of the JSF, LCS and satellite contracts, Neil supported Lockheed Martin business pursuits across services and was also responsible for coordinating and supporting all Lockheed Martin Business Areas in support of West Coast/Pacific commands, government agencies and DoD efforts. These included S&T support to government and industry partners.
Neil connected small businesses to major corporations to expand business and developed mentor-protégé efforts as well as building strong teams to capture emerging opportunities. Neil became a leading Subject Matter Expert in the Unmanned Systems & Sensors domain. Commercial focus has included transportation, energy, agriculture, water, BIOTECH/MEDTECH and TELECOM.