Photo Credit: William McCallister

Dr. Montgomery ‘Mitzy’ McFate is a cultural anthropologist who works on defense and national security issues. Currently, she is a professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Dr. McFate received an AA from the College of Marin, a BA from University of California at Berkeley in Social Sciences, a PhD in Anthropology from Yale University, and a JD from Harvard Law School. Her PhD dissertation concerned British counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland, specifically the social and cultural conditions that created and reproduced ideological and material support for the Provisional IRA and the challenges the British government experienced in responding to the conflict between 1969 and 1982. She has received a variety of honors for her academic work, including a National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship, a Smith Richardson International Security Grant, and a Yale Fellowship, among others.

Formerly, she was the Senior Social Scientist for the US Army’s Human Terrain System, where she helped build the program from a ‘good idea’ with no money attached to a program with over five hundred employees, 27 teams deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $151 million dollar a year budget. She has held positions at a variety of think tanks, including RAND and the Institute for Defense Analysis. Between 2003-2005 she worked at the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research, where she was awarded a Distinguished Public Service Award by the Secretary of the Navy for her efforts to make socio-cultural knowledge relevant to the Navy and the Department of Defense. She was a Jennings Randolph Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, served on the Army Science Board and was a consulting member on the Defense Science Board. Currently she serves on the Executive Board of the Federal Coordinating Committee for the Department of Homeland Security Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).


Photo Credit: William McCallister

Dr. McFate has published widely, covering a range of issues connected with culture and national security including cultural barriers to conflict resolution; socio-cultural transformation resulting from economic instability; the use of cultural narratives in strategic information operations; the social context of weapons systems in insurgencies; the historic relationship of social sciences and the military; and the influence of social norms on tribal warfare; specific types of socio-cultural knowledge important for counterinsurgency operations and the current system for producing and distributing that knowledge (through education, training, doctrine, databases) within the Department of Defense. She has also conducted ‘lessons learned’ research in Iraq and Afghanistan for the US Army, including research design, execution, and production of final reports. Additionally, she was one of the primary contributors to the 2006 US Army Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency and a contributor to Joint Publication 2.0, Intelligence.

She is a native of Marin County, California and lives in Rhode Island.