Richard Downie

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Dr. Richard D. Downie
Born (1954-11-12) November 12, 1954 (age 62)
New York
Service/branch United States United States Army; United States Department of Defense
Years of service 1976–2004; 2004–Present
Rank Colonel; SES
Commands held Director, Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (NDU)
Spouse(s) Deborah Downie

Richard Downie was the director of the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS), the educational institution of both the U.S. Northern and U.S. Southern Commands (SOUTHCOM), at the National Defense University in Washington, DC from March 2004-March, 2013. He is regarded as an expert in Latin American security affairs and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[1] During Downie's tenure at CHDS, the institution faced controversy over its employment of a former military officer from Chile, who was later allegedly implicated in human rights abuses.[2][3]

Downie is now executive vice president for global strategies for OMNITRU Technologies as well as part of the distinguished faculty of defense and strategic studies at Missouri State University.[4]


Downie was born in Hempstead, New York but grew up in Riverside, California. He attended high school at the Webb Schools in Claremont, CA.


Downie graduated from the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1976. He earned his Masters of Arts Degree and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Southern California. His research focused on organizational learning and counterinsurgency.[5][6]

Downie's military education includes the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Course and the Defense Strategy Course. He was also an Army Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Seminar XXI Program.[7] Downie is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.[8]

Downie holds a 1st degree Black Belt in the martial art of Hwa Rang Do.[9]

Military and government service[edit]

During his service in the US Army, Downie held a series of both staff and command positions. He served as an Infantryman and later as a Latin American Foreign Area Officer. In 1985 Downie served as an exchange officer in Colombia, where he completed the Lancero (International Ranger) School as the distinguished graduate.[10][11] Downie worked at the U.S. Army South and the United States Southern Command in Panama; coordinated Western Hemisphere affairs on the U.S. Joint Staff; served with the Multinational Specialized Unit in Bosnia; and was the Defense and Army Attaché in Mexico.[12]

On January 17, 2001, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) opened its doors in Fort Benning, Georgia. Downie was the school's first Commandant in his final US Army command position.[13] In 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appointed Downie as the Director of the Center For Hemispheric Defense, which "conducts educational activities for civilians and the military in the Western Hemisphere to foster trust, mutual understanding, regional cooperation and partner capacity."[14]

Toward the end of the Bush Administration Downie and his CHDS colleague Richard Downes argued that early in his term as President, Evo Morales was quietly collaborating with Washington, a "pragmatism" they said resulted "from a conscientious effort to keep Bolivian and Bolivians' interests at the forefront of his administration." Morales' governing style, they wrote at that time, "provides an opening for improving bilateral relations and enhanced cooperation on issues of mutual concern. ... During the first part of his administration, the Morales government has maintained a working dialogue with the United States on the single most contentious issue, how to control the cultivation of coca." Downie and Downes characterized Morales as "a shrewd negotiator" who "seems to avoid open conflict with the United States. ... For pragmatic reasons, Evo Morales will most likely continue to orchestrate Bolivia's international relations to obtain material support for Bolivia's needs and for his own political image without surrendering to (Venezuelan leftwing populist Hugo) Chavez's political direction. The latter's support has failed to enlist Morales as a tool for extending Chavez's anti-U.S. politics into the heart of South America, because Morales has repeatedly demonstrated a pragmatic independence intent on preserving most of his options, especially concerning the United States." In conclusion, they wrote: " ... International actors committed to effective democratic governance, including the United States, have a fundamental interest in continuing interaction with Bolivian institutions and organizations that uphold democratic values. Efforts to engage the Bolivian government are positive steps to maintain and improve contacts at all levels of its government and society." [15][16][17]

During Downie's tenure at CHDS, the alleged (and as yet unproven) role of a Chilean professor who worked in the 1970s for Captain General Augusto Pinochet's state terrorist organization, the National Intelligence Directorate, or DINA in the torture and murder of seven detainees was revealed inside the Center. His alleged role was first brought to Downie's attention in early 2008.

The revelations about Garcia Covarrubias received media attention. "The best evidence that the case is rock solid is not only the indictment coming from a local judge in Chile, but the judgment of the State Department itself", Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, told McClatchy investigative reporters Marisa Taylor and Kevin G. Hall. "The protection from the Defense Department smells really bad." In 2014, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told McClatchy: "The Department of Defense should know better than to invite in and continue to employ a foreign military officer for a position of authority at a prestigious U.S. institution even after he was credibly implicated in serious crimes. We criticize other countries for failing to hold accountable officers who violate the law. Yet, in this case, we reward him in our own country? It sends a terrible message."[2][3]

In 2014, at the same time as McClatchy broke the Garcia Covarrubias story, in "Flagship military university hired foreign officers linked to human rights abuses in Latin America," The Center for Public Integrity revealed that a nonpublic report in 2012 by a U.S. Army colonel appointed by Downie himself. The report stated that “The Director of the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS) directed an investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment, mismanagement, resource discrepancies and racial prejudice raised by [Name Masked in the report].[18][19] After extensive review into these allegations, [the investigating officer stated that] I find that the center’s leadership has not violated any laws or Department of Defense regulations, has not acted unethically towards its employees, and has maintained good order and conduct expected in an organization in the Department of Defense. I found no evidence of any type of discrimination based on federally protected classes."[20][21]


His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service and Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Inter-American Defense Board Medal. He also has been decorated with foreign awards, including the "Orden del Gran Caballero" (Colombia) “Orden de Mérito Académico” (Colombia), the Bosnia/Former Yugoslavia NATO Medal, the Order of Military Merit (Mexico), as well as the Order of the Peruvian Cross (Peru).[1]

Published work[edit]




  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b "For years, Pentagon paid professor despite revoked visa and accusations of torture in Chile". miamiherald. 
  3. ^ a b "Chilean accused of murder, torture taught 13 years for Pentagon". mcclatchydc. 
  4. ^ "Richard D. Downie, PhD". 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Membership Roster - Council on Foreign Relations". 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
  9. ^ "Hwa Rang Do Global News". 2009-01-02. 
  10. ^ "Articles (Bay Area & National)". 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Richard Downie. Center For Hemispheric Defense.
  13. ^ John Pike. "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation". 
  14. ^ "Home - Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS)". Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Re-Elected Evo Morales Dedicates Victory to Hugo Chavez". 
  17. ^ "Bolivian President Evo Morales dedicates reelection to Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez". Fox News Latino. 
  18. ^ US Army, AR 15-6 Investigation (6 March 2012). "Report of Proceedings by Investigatng Officer, AR 15-6 Investigation". documentcloud. US Army. 
  19. ^ Report of Investigating Officer, AR 15-6, 6 March 2012, Washington, D.C.;
  20. ^ [1] Report of Investigating Officer, AR 15-6 Investigtion, 6 March 2012, Washington, D.C.;
  21. ^ Report of Investigating Officer, Army Regulation 15-6, 6 March 2012, US Army, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. ;

External links[edit]

  • Professional Bio [2] at Center For Hemispheric Defense Studies (National Defense University)