William V. Cowan, often nicknamed Bill Cowan (born August 1943 in Sacramento, California), is a retired USMC Lieutenant Colonel, co-founder and CEO of wvc3, inc., a Reston, Virginia based company specializing in international security. He is also a contributor for the Fox News Channel.
Cowan enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 17, received an appointment to and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1966, and was commissioned as a lieutenant the United States Marine Corps. He subsequently did two tours of duty in Vietnam where he spent three and a half years. A platoon commander at the siege of Khe Sanh, and in charge of the 3rd Marine Division's Kit Carson Scouts program for five months, most of his time was spent with small units and getting experience of raids, ambushes, riverine operations and intelligence gathering with the Central Intelligence Agency. From 1969 onwards, he was advisor for the South Vietnam military in the Rung Sat Special Zone. During his last year he led the Rung Sat's Provincial Reconnaissance Unit. He received numerous awards for valor in combat and was wounded three times.
Intelligence Support Activity (ISA)
In April 1983, after having been offered a job at the White House Science Advisor's office, he was approached by the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) to replace the previous U.S. Marine representative and ISA deputy operations officer. He conducted numerous missions as an ISA operative and was with the team that hunted down and targeted those responsible for the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241 servicemen (220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and 3 Army personnel). He retired from the ISA after what he perceived as inaction by the Pentagon towards dealing with this incident. This inspired him to secretly organize a group that would work outside the government to help fight terrorism and other social problems worldwide.
After he retired from the ISA, he worked as legislative assistant to Senator Warren B. Rudman during the hearings of the Iran Contra scandal, and was a key staff member in drafting the legislation which created the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida.
Cowan was involved in some of the most famous hostage rescues of the Middle East. One of his rescues, the 1990 rescue of American businessmen in Kuwait after Saddam Hussein had invaded that country, was the object of a documentary where some secrets about his organization were revealed, such as the fact that organization operatives used to obtain fake passports issued by a man in Paris to enter countries where people were being held. This operation was conducted in combination with former CIA director Bill Colby.
Cowan has a graduate degree in computer science and is a member of Mensa. But he is known internationally for his expertise in counterterrorism, intelligence, and military special operations. He consults and advises the Pentagon on these matters. He has also been a Fox News Channel contributor since 2001, has been a co-host with Ambassador Dick Carlson of the radio and television show Danger Zone, and he has written articles for The Washington Post and been featured in several television shows apart from the documentary such as 60 Minutes, Larry King Live and others. He is married to the former Velvet Leigh Shelton, a conservative political activist from Mount Airy, North Carolina.
- Bill Cowan Biography on The Intelligence Summit website, Bill Cowan Biography on the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) website, Bill Cowan Biography on Fox News website
- http://www.insiderpa.com/archive/insider6-2003.htm. See also wvc3 Inc. online presentation page
- Bill Cowan Biography on Fox News website
- Michael Smith, Killer Elite: The Inside Story of America's Most Secret Special Operations Team, Cassell, coll. «Cassell Military Parperbacks», London, 2006 ISBN 0-304-36727-3  pp.80-81
- One Marine's Opinion: 240th AHC in the Rung Sat
- PBS Frontline interview: Bill Cowan