Dr. Montgomery 'Mitzy' McFate is a cultural anthropologist who works on defense and national security
issues. Currently, she is the Minerva Chair at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the US Naval
War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Most of her professional experience and academic expertise has
focused on how culture and society affect national security and how to address the need for socio-cultural
knowledge in irregular warfare and stability operations. Her current research interest is the American
experience with military governance.
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,
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.
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 US Army Field Manual 3-24,
Counterinsurgency and a contributor to Joint Publication 2.0, Intelligence.
Dr. McFate has a variety of teaching experience. She designed and taught Anthropology for Strategists
at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She also assisted in designing and
delivering the initial anthropology segment of the US Army University of Foreign Military and Cultural
Studies course. While in law school, Dr. McFate was a teaching fellow at Harvard University and a thesis
supervisor for a number of undergraduate students in the Harvard Anthropology Department. Dr. McFate
has also lectured frequently at the US Army War College and National Defense University.
Dr. McFate also has some legal experience. While at Harvard Law School, she was a research assistant
for the Islamic Legal Studies Program, a board member of the Project on Law and Ethnic Conflict, and an
executive editor for the Harvard Journal of Human Rights. She did a clinical internship with the Organized
Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Squad of the US Attorney's Office and was an Everett Fellow at
Human Rights Watch. Her research at Human Rights Watch resulted in a publication on violations of the
laws of war by mercenaries and private military contractors. Following law school, she was a litigation
associate at Baker & McKenzie.
She is a native of Marin County, California and lives in Rhode Island with her son Vale and her cat Tosca.