To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America, members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) personnel who were on the ground immediately following the attacks will share their experiences and discuss aspects of the CIA’s operations in Afghanistan and their roles in this unprecedented counter terrorism action.

The panel discussion will take place on Sept. 9, 3:30 p.m., in Burruss Hall auditorium and is free and open to the public. Visit the webpage to learn more and register.

This event is part of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ Cutchins Leadership Lecture Series, which brings to campus nationally known personalities who speak on the topics of leadership and ethics. The lecture series is part of the cadet Corps Lab curriculum, housed in the Pamplin College of Business.

The event is hosted by Virginia Tech’s Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology and in collaboration with the Corps of Cadets. Sponsors include Elder Research Inc., ITA International, Maxar Technologies, and Greg Koeln.

The panel will include the following speakers:

Ken Stiles, Moderator

Lead CIA Counterterrorism Targeter (CIA Retired)

Hume Center Professor

In the Central Intelligence Agency’s Counterterrorism Center Special Operations, Stiles created a revolutionary GIS-based targeting system to provide the CIA’s leader of the operation a near real time view of the battlefield. This GIS-based targeting system, named the ‘Magic Box,’ allowed each team to have the same targeting data as CIA headquarters and liaison offices within the Department of Defense. Stiles provided targeting support to CIA teams, U.S. military teams, and Afghan-trained counter terrorism teams. The targeting system was 100 percent successful in deconflicting U.S. military attacks with CIA assets and team presence on the battlefield. This technology changed the way battlefield management is undertaken.

John Bennett

Former Director, National Clandestine Service (CIA Retired)

Bennett served in the CIA operations office for 33 years. He spent 18 years overseas and served as chief of the station. His senior positions post-Sept. 11 included chief special activities division and director of the National Clandestine Service. Prior to joining the CIA, Bennett was an infantry officer in the Marine Corps.

Alex R. Hernandez

Prior to joining the CIA, Hernandez served in the U.S. Army Special Forces-the Green Berets for more than 25 years, retiring at the rank of sergeant major. As a CIA case officer, Hernandez served in the paramilitary component of the Special Activities Division and in the Counterterrorism Center, where he held senior and executive level positions.

Col. Justin Sapp

Military Advisor and Chief of Staff to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Sapp was attending the Special Forces Combat Diver Course as a Green Beret captain assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group on Sept. 11. Upon graduating from the course on Sept. 20, just days after the attack, he was detailed to the CIA’s paramilitary component of the Special Activities Division and joined Team Alpha in advance of the infiltration into Afghanistan. Sapp continued his career in Army Special Forces, where he held various command and staff positions over the past 19 years. He currently serves as the military advisor and chief of staff to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Toby Harnden

Orwell Prize Winning Author of "First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11"

Harnden, a former foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times of London and the Daily Telegraph, who reported from 33 countries, specializes in terrorism and war. Born in England, Harnden was imprisoned in Zimbabwe, prosecuted in Britain for protecting confidential sources, and vindicated by a $23 million public inquiry in Ireland. A dual British and U..S citizen, Harnden spent a decade as a Royal Navy officer before becoming a journalist. He holds a degree in modern history from Oxford University and is the author of "Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh" and "Dead Men Risen: An Epic Story of War and Heroism in Afghanistan." Previously based in London, Belfast, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Washington, D.C., Harnden now lives in Virginia.

- Written by Aubrey Medina

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