Defense, Intelligence, Security and Space Practice
The Navigators Global Defense, Intelligence, Security and Space Practice has unparalleled, nonpartisan insight into key defense and national security policymakers throughout the federal government and foreign capitals.
Navigators focuses on comprehensive coverage of the annual authorization and appropriations process in Congress, global trends in the geopolitical threat environment, and in space, cyber and warfighting technology. We pursue proactive engagement with U.S. and allied defense and intelligence officials.
Our team’s combined acumen provides clients with best-in-class expertise on specialties ranging from global security risk management, to cyber, to special operations and everything in between. We prepare clients on international issues, transformative technology developments, and U.S. security challenges with an eye toward creating business opportunities internationally and at the federal level.
The Navigators Global Defense, Intelligence, Security and Space Practice features Senior Strategists Gen. John Mulholland (ret.) and Gen. Tom Trask (ret.). It is managed by Principal Phil Anderson, Andy Keiser, and Lt. Col Doug Distaso (ret.).
Congressional and Executive Branch Policy Strategy
Defense Capital Advisory and Business Development
Deputy Assistant to Vice President
U.S House of Representatives Legislative Director
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mr. Anderson held a series of policy and political positions on Capitol Hill, with the National Republican Party, and the Ronald Reagan and G.H. Bush White House. Mr. Anderson served as a director in the Reagan era White House Conference for a Drug Free America and in the Bush White House as Special Assistant. He also served as Deputy Assistant to Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater. He has over 30 years of experience advising corporations, industries and elected officials on public policy issues and has implemented successful public policy campaigns for over 50 different clients and coalitions.
In 2002 Mr. Anderson founded Navigators Global, a full service issues management firm in Washington, DC. At Navigators, he has formed and guided winning integrated public affairs campaigns for some of the nation’s most significant recognizable companies and industries, including work for the financial services, insurance, auto manufacturers, telecommunications, high technology, construction and defense sectors. Some of the firm’s top clients include AT&T, Delta Airlines, Emergent BioSolutions, Citigroup, General Motors, Home Depot, National Geographic, New York Jets, Nokia, Oracle, Travelers, Microsoft, Facebook, UPS, Visa and Wal-Mart. Mr. Anderson has also led issue and political campaigns in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia.
Named one of Washington’s top lobbyists by The Hill, Mr. Anderson has also been a frequent media source with commentary appearing in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Journal, and Bloomberg. He has appeared on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, CNBC, FOX NEWS, and ABC.
In 2004, Mr. Anderson was selected to the advisory board of George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet. He is a member of the Global SOF Foundation Advisory Council and serves as the President of the Veterans Cannabis Project and the BuildStrong Coalition. Mr. Anderson is a graduate of Virginia Tech, where he served as a guest lecturer on politics and advocacy.
USSOCOM - AI and Irregular Warfare
Special Assistant to Vice Commander USSOCOM
Director Special Operations Legislative Affairs
Deputy Commander 1st Special Operations Group
After over 25 years in the United States Air Force, Doug Distaso joined Navigators to lead the Security, Defense & Space Practice. Mr. Distaso recently retired from assignment at the Pentagon for the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), as the Special Assistant to the Vice Commander. In that position, he crafted executive-level interagency engagement strategies designed to increase both the budget and operational authorities of our nation’s most elite warriors. Mr. Distaso also played the lead role in integrating Special Operations Forces (SOF) into the Third Offset Strategy and the high-end future of war, given explosive growth in technology opportunities globally. Between Mr. Distaso’s many operational assignments, he was fortunate to serve as a primary legislative affairs lead for two USSOCOM commanders. During that tenure billions of dollars’ worth of SOF aircraft, training capacity, and technology were added to Appropriations Legislation, while military construction projects quadrupled for aviation units. His efforts alone grew the House and Senate SOF Caucus by 300%. From 2000-2015 Mr. Distaso commanded over 3,500 aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally. This operational focus allowed successes in counter-terrorism hotspots from Europe to the Pacific. Mr. Distaso graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and continued his education at Johns-Hopkins University.
Fellow at National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School
Deputy Director National Security Trump Transition
Senior Advisor House Intelligence Committee
U.S House of Representatives – Chief of Staff
Mr. Keiser served 14 years on Capitol Hill for former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers – as Senior Advisor to the Committee, Chief of Staff, and Legislative Director overseeing all national security and Energy and Commerce Committee policy issues for the Congressman. Mr. Keiser was also the head writer for a nationally-syndicated radio program, assisted in the production of the CNN series “Declassified,” and is a regular media commentator on national security issues. Now, Mr. Keiser leads several Navigators clients on defense, international, cybersecurity, biodefense, technology and telecommunications security issues. Mr. Keiser has a Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts from the United States Naval War College. Dubbed a “national security expert” by The Washington Post, he is a Fellow at the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and a Senior Advisor at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. He also is a member of the OSS Society and serves on the Meridian International Center’s Global Leadership Council.
AFSOC Special Forces Aviator (MH-53, HH-60, UH-1)
Vice Commander USSOCOM
Commander 58th Special Operations Wing
After over 30 years in the United States Air Force, General Thomas Trask joined Navigators as the senior strategist for the Security, Defense & Space Practice. Most recently, General Trask served as Vice Commander of the Headquarters U.S. Special Operations Command, in which role he was responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing actions with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Services and other government agencies in the National Capital Region on behalf of the Commander USSOCOM. During his service, General Trask also worked with the White House and Congress to ensure appropriations for special operations were utilized effectively and with minimal risk to special operators. General Trask’s expertise is highly valued within the national security and defense sector. In addition to his role at Navigators, he serves as a Director for CAE USA Mission Solutions, is a member of the Military Advisory Board for FLIR Inc., serves as Senior Fellow for the Center for Naval Analysis in Arlington, Virginia, and is a member of the Professional Advisory Board for the College of Security and Intelligence at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona. General Trask has a Bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Master’s degrees in international relations from Troy State University, in national security and strategic studies from Naval War College, and in airpower art and science from the School of Advanced Airpower Studies.
USD for Policy – Acting
Director Special Operations Legislative Affairs
Deputy Chief of Staff Veterans Administration
Commander Special Operations in Iraq
Deputy Commander Joint Operations Task Force – Operation Iraqi Freedom
U.S. Navy SEAL
Michael Lumpkin is a former American Navy SEAL and businessman. He is former Special Envoy/Coordinator at the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
During his time as a government civilian, Michael was entrusted with the most challenging issues: providing oversight of our nation’s special operations forces, spearheading the implementation of the 2010 Omnibus Caregivers Act, reorganizing the Department of Defense (DoD) POW/MIA recovery operations, leading DoD’s efforts to repatriate Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity, leading the DoD Task Force that successfully responded the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and establishing the Global Engagement Center to counter violent extremists’ online presence, propaganda, and disinformation. Outside of his Administration appointments, Michael had a varied background. He served as a Principal at Neptune, CEO at Industrial Security Alliance Partners, Director of Business Development at ATI, and as a career naval officer. He is a qualified Surface Warfare Officer and a U.S. Navy SEAL, having served in every leadership position within the Teams from Platoon Commander to Team Commanding Officer, and is a veteran of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. He has received more than 40 military awards for his military service in both combat and peacetime. Michael has also been recognized twice with the Medal for Distinguished Public Service, twice with the Medal for Outstanding Public Service by DoD, and is the recipient of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence. A native of San Diego, he has well established roots in Alexandria, Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Deputy Commander USSOCOM
Deputy Commander JSOC
General John F. Mulholland joined Navigators as a senior strategist for the Security, Defense & Space Practice after serving 38 years in the U.S. Army. He retired in 2016 as one of the most decorated Special Forces soldiers in Army history. While in the Army, General Mulholland led special operations task forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and commanded all joint special operations forces in the Central Command region. He also commanded all Army Special Operations Forces, a force of over 36,000 soldiers, working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Congress to ensure readiness and training for what were then the most heavily deployed forces in the military. General Mulholland concluded his Army career as the senior military representative and associate director at the CIA. General Mulholland remains an active consultant and advisor for a variety of Special Operations and Defense industry companies, as well as an advisor and mentor for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense. He is a trusted advocate for the Army, for Special Operations Forces, and for veterans and their families. General Mulholland graduated from Furman University, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College.
Director for Counterterrorism - White House National Security Council
Commander Joint Special Operations Task Force – Arabian Peninsula
Commander 5th Special Forces Group
Mark E. Mitchell is a former senior executive in DOD who served most recently as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD(SO/LIC)). He is also highly decorated U.S. Army infantry and Special Forces combat veteran who served 28 years on active duty. Mitchell participated in multiple campaigns in the First Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq. He served four tours in the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), commanding at every level from detachment to group. In addition to commanding 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Colonel Mitchell simultaneously commanded a nationwide, Joint Special Operations Task Force in Iraq in 2010-2011. He has also served on the National Security Council as a Director for Counterterrorism and worked as a business executive in the private sector. Mitchell holds Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Marquette University and a Master of Science degree in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also served as a National Security Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and non-resident fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. He has lectured at Harvard Business School, the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Joint Special Operations University, the U.S. Army War College, the National Defense University, and the United States Military Academy.
25 years of DOD Intelligence Community and Mission Planning Expertise including ISR Big Safari
Intelligence Officer USAF
Denver Riggleman previously served in the U.S. Congress, representing the 5th District of Virginia. During his time in Congress, Riggleman served on the Financial Services Committee, where he was Vice Ranking Member of the International Development and Monetary Policy Subcommittee and on the National Security and Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittees. He also served as co-chair of the China Task Force national security and technology pillars and was a member of the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Working Group. Congressman Riggleman brings his expertise and insight on public policy, Congress, and the Executive Branch to the firm. He provides clients with insight on a wide variety of issue sectors including national security, global finance, foreign affairs, artificial intelligence, and cannabis and hemp issues, among others. In addition to his role as Senior Strategist, Riggleman is part of firm’s national security practice, to which he brings experience as a subject matter expert on data analytics for the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD). Congressman Riggleman served as a United States Air Force Intelligence Officer supporting the global war on terror in multiple capacities during his career as a Balkan and Eastern European strategic analyst and tactical fighter and Bomber mission planner (B-1, F-16, F-15E, F-15c). He was the co-founder and former CEO of a successful federal contracting company supporting military science and technology and advanced analysis. Riggleman is the co-owner and Principal of Silverback Distillery, an award-winning, international acclaimed maker of whiskey. He is a distinguished graduate in Foreign Affairs (concentrating on the former Yugoslavia and its history of religious and political strife) from the University of Virginia.
After a 31-year career in the United States intelligence community, Brigham Bechtel founded Pelorusto help companies navigate modern international business environment. A Navy veteran, Mr. Bechtel retired from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2017, after over 27 years as a staff officer. In addition to regional expertise, Brigham has an extensive background in counterterrorism and special operations. Mr. Bechtel’s CIA career included success as an analyst and an operations officer. He led operations during the Global War on Terror with significant successes against Al-Qaeda and other terrorists in high threat environments. He worked with Congressional and Executive Branch leaders during his time leading important units for the agency. Mr. Bechtel has multiple awards for the quality and character of his work including the Career Intelligence Medal, Meritorious Unit Citations for unit’s he led, and National Intelligence Award. After CIA, Mr. Bechtel joined MarkLogic Corporation as the Chief Strategy Officer for Defense and Intelligence. In that role, he expanded his contacts in the commercial world and special operations community. He is a student of data science from Harvard. Brigham graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland and is a member of the Cosmos Club and its International Affairs Committee.
Commander Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force CENTCOM
Director Operations Sensitive Activities USSOCOM
Chief of Plans and Operations USASOC
Tal Sullivan is an experienced U.S. Army Special Forces colonel with a demonstrated history of working in the military and national security industries. Skilled in Operational Planning, Command, Leadership, Human Capital, and Strategic Communications, Mr. Sullivan is a strong military and interagency professional with a Master’s degree focused in National Security Strategy from the National War College. He is a trusted decision maker with decades of experience in strategic level leadership, business development, program management, planning, training, operations, risk mitigation and organizational design. Experienced in strategizing, managing research and executing highly visible projects with national security implications, Mr. Sullivan has extensive classified experience with key executive level assignments and a multi-faceted post graduate education. He is able to build highly performing teams, building consensus to arrive at difficult solutions, and a skilled communicator. Mr. Sullivan brings decades of leadership, complex problem-solving skills, and unparalleled enthusiasm well suited for maximizing productivity and increasing profitability.
USAF Special Operations Pilot (AFSOC - MC-130H)
USAF Program Manager and Acquisitions Officer - Remotely Piloted Aircraft Capabilities Division
Founder - CK Technologies (Autonomous Systems, Design and Manufacturing), Drone Safety Corporation (Training)
Mr. Foley is a former Legislative Assistant and Policy Advisor to a U.S. Senator on the Senate Armed Services and Defense Appropriations Committees, overseeing the procurement of billions of dollars in military equipment and related policies integral to weapons systems acquisitions initiatives and personnel management for the organizing, training, and equipping of U.S. Forces. Mark also spent 25 years in the Air Force flying the MC-130H for AFSOC and leading the Command’s systems, technology, and innovations development group for Small Unmanned Aerial Systems, where he was responsible for evaluating platforms, managing acquisitions, and building operational standards and procedures. He was a Program Manager and Acquisitions Officer at the Pentagon for the Air Force’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft Capabilities Division, managing manpower and resources to support the systems operations and integration of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance of unmanned assets, and the test and evaluation, rapid prototyping, and fielding of next-generation technologies for of the RQ-4 and MQ-1/MQ-9 programs. Mr. Foley has spent over a decade with commercial unmanned and automated systems, administering the operations and integration of advanced technologies in multiple markets with highly technical service-related interests. Mark has also led product innovation labs focused on the development of next generation unmanned capabilities, particularly in the field of micro and nano systems. He is technology entrepreneur with multiple drone patents, the Founder and Owner of CK Technologies, and autonomous systems and unmanned aerial vehicle start-up, and Co-Founder of Drone Safety Corporation, a national drone training and certification company.
Susan Mboya leads the Navigators Global International Practice. Dr. Mboya currently serves as the President of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and as the Coca-Cola Group Director for Women’s Economic Empowerment for Eurasia and Africa. In addition to her global corporate foundation experience, Dr. Mboya has a substantial background in international politics, serving as an advisor to high-level government officials, NGOs, C-Suite executives, and local economic and political leaders. Dr. Mboya has led numerous philanthropic and charitable initiatives, including her work with Coca-Cola’s Replenish African Initiative (RAIN), which provides access to clean water to people in Africa. Additionally, Dr. Mboya specializes in programs that promote entrepreneurship, mentorship, and education to women and young people. She is the founder of the Zawadi Africa Educational Fund, which provides scholarships and leadership training to African girls. She is also a member of the African Leadership Network. Dr. Mboya received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut and went on to receive a Doctorate in Industrial Pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
Special Assistant to President
U.S House of Representatives – Chief of Staff
Chris Cox brings more than 25 years of legislative and political experience in senior positions in the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives. Most recently, Chris served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, having previously served President George W. Bush as special assistant for legislative affairs. Over his two terms at the White House, Mr. Cox managed the House team and relationships with House leadership. He was responsible for executing the President’s legislative strategy through the first 5 months of the COVID crisis. For President Bush, Cox led on issues of taxation, international trade, defense, war on terror, intelligence, foreign policy and veterans’ affairs. He was an integral part of the lobbying campaigns that led to the signing into law of two tax bills, two supplemental appropriations bills, two cycles of defense appropriations and authorizations bills, and new authorization and appropriation of two major presidential initiatives – Global AIDS Relief and the Millennium Challenge Account. An experienced hand in Congress, Mr. Cox served as chief of staff for U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) and U.S. Representative Robin Hayes (R-NC). Prior to that, Mr. Cox served four years as legislative director for then-U.S. Representative and current U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). For each of the last ten years, Mr. Cox has been named one of Washington’s top lobbyists by The Hill. He received a Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Illinois.
U.S. Senate Chief of Staff
Mr. Conda served in the Bush-Cheney White House as Assistant to the Vice President for Domestic Policy, where he was “instrumental in devising the Bush tax cuts” according to columnist Robert Novak. He was an advisor to the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney in 2008 and Bob Dole in 1996. Conda spent 18 years on Capitol Hill as a senior aide to three U.S. Senators, and was Republican staff director of the Senate Small Business Committee. Roll Call included Conda in its “Fabulous Fifty” list of the most powerful congressional staffers. In 1999, he received the “Congressional Staffer of the Year Award” from the Information Technology Industry Council. Prior to his Senate career, Conda was a tax lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Having served on the Board of Directors of the Jack Kemp Foundation, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Empower America and as co-chair of executive committee of the Susan B. Anthony List, Conda has deep roots in the conservative movement and is described by the Associated Press as one of former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “conservative mentors.” Mr. Conda is a Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of The International Economy magazine. Mr. Conda has successfully represented such blue chip corporate and trade association clients as AT&T, Oracle, NextEra Energy, Microsoft, VISA USA, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the American Petroleum Institute, among others. Mr. Conda is a graduate of The College of William and Mary in Virginia.
U.S. Senate Chief of Staff
Special Assistant to the President
A veteran of five presidential campaigns, Jim Pitts brings more than 25 years of experience working at the highest levels in the White House and Congress, and directing federal lobbying and opinion leader campaigns. He specializes in several fields, including energy, tribal affairs, high-tech, homeland security, international relations, and overall public relations and policy strategies. Mr. Pitts previously served as the executive director of the Financial Services Coordinating Council (FSCC). Prior to joining the FSCC, he served as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI). Mr. Pitts is a veteran of two former administrations, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, where he held a number of senior-level executive branch positions in the White House, Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Energy and the Department of Labor. In 1995, he entered the world of journalism as deputy publisher of The Weekly Standard, helping to launch one of the nation’s most respected political opinion publications. Named one of the top Washington lobbyists by The Hill, Mr. Pitts has been a frequent media source on political events. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, ABC News’ Nightline and C-SPAN’s Morning Journal. Mr. Pitts is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.
U.S. Senate – Deputy Chief of Staff
Ryan Berger served as the Policy Director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He brings a wealth of campaign and policy experience to the Navigators government relations and issues management practices. While at the NRSC, Mr. Berger helped expand the Republican Senate majority in 2018 under the leadership of Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and other top officials. As Policy Director, Mr. Berger developed policy proposals and educated Senators, candidates, and campaign teams on federal issues and voter communication. Mr. Berger has over 15 years of experience on Capitol Hill. He was a member of the Presidential Trump Transition team and served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair Joni Ernst (R-IA). Previously, Mr. Berger served as Legislative Director for former Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Chiesa (R-NJ). Mr. Berger received an M.A. from George Washington University and an undergraduate degree from Ohio University.
Navigators Global is a full-service issues management, government relations and strategic communications firm located in Washington, D.C. Our senior team members have advised Fortune 500 companies, governmental agencies, political candidates and some of the nation’s most prominent elected officials.
Founding Principals Phil Anderson, Jim Pitts, Chris Cox and Cesar Conda formed Navigators Global to provide exclusive services to clients whose needs demand solutions beyond the reach of other firms. By creating an elite team of federal lobbyists, political strategists and communications experts, Navigators Global proudly offers a broad range of services, unrivaled performance and proven results.