Expertise: Asia, National Security, Military, Defense Budget, Irregular Warfare, Security Force Assistance/ Security Sector Reform, Interagency Coordination, Conflict Management, Population Engagement and Cross Cultural Communications, Security and Stability Operations, and Strategic Communications
Mark Kustra is a former United States Marine Officer with over 23 years of operational experience serving in positions from the tactical to the strategic levels of Defense. Throughout his life, to include his childhood and career, he has lived and worked in Asia for over 17 years.
Most recently he worked as a Strategic Analyst in the Marine Corps’ Strategic Initiatives Group where he looked at a range of issues related to future trends and threats to global stability and requirements to meet them. As a member of the Afghanistan Pakistan Hands Program he served as a governance and development advisor in Marjah District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Prior to this, Mark served as the Director of Joint Operations, Joint US Military Advisor Group-Thailand where he served on the Country Team and successfully provided training initiatives with Thai security forces focused on peacekeeping, counter narcotics, counter terror, counterinsurgency operations, and disaster relief. In addition to working in Thailand and Afghanistan, Mark has served in numerous other assignments in Asia (Republic of Korea and Japan) and the Middle East as well as Africa. He has worked in command and staff assignments from the platoon to the Division level as an Infantry and Reconnaissance Officer and has deployed in support of operations in Kuwait, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan as well as numerous other contingencies throughout the Indo-Pacific region. He also worked within the US Marine Corps’ Program and Resource Department as a Program Coordinator in which his focus was to analyze the Program of Record and ensure that it was aligned with existing strategic guidance as well as forecasting the potential impacts of new strategic guidance like the Quadrennial Defense Review.
Throughout his career he has worked with a diverse group of civil and military interagency and international groups and organizations.
Since he left active Service, Mark has provided consultancy work for the US government on Security Force Assistance, Afghanistan Governance and Politics, Stability operations, Interagency operations, Crisis response operations, and Asian Culture and History, specifically for: Japan, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Timor Leste, the Philippines and Afghanistan.
Marked earned a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in History from the United States Naval Academy and earned a Masters in Strategic Studies from the Army War College. He was a South and Southeast Asian Regional Area Officer and has Pashto language capability.