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The Honorable James R. Locher III

The Honorable James R. Locher III

former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, U.S. Department of Defense

James R. Locher III has more than twenty-five years of experience in both the executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1968, received an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1974, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Hampden-Sydney College in 1992.

Mr. Locher began his career in Washington as an executive trainee in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Subsequently, he served in the Executive Office of the President as executive secretary of the White House Working Group on Maritime Policy. Returning to the Pentagon, Mr. Locher worked as an operations research analyst in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Program Analysis and Evaluation.

In 1978, Mr. Locher joined the Senate Committee on Armed Services as a professional staff member, initially serving as senior adviser on international security affairs and force projection programs. In 1985, the committee assigned Mr. Locher responsibility for strategy and organization. He directed the bipartisan staff effort that resulted in the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 and served as the senior staffer for the special operations and low-intensity conflict reform legislation, known as the Cohen-Nunn Amendment.

President George H. W. Bush appointed Mr. Locher to the post of assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict in October 1989. He supervised the special operations and low-intensity conflict activities of the Department of Defense, performed as the principal civilian adviser to the secretary of defense on these matters, and represented the secretary in senior subordinate groups of the National Security Council. He served as assistant secretary throughout the Bush administration and first five months of the Clinton administration. During the latter period, Mr. Locher also served as acting under secretary of defense for policy. Upon leaving government service in June 1993, he was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the department’s highest civilian award.  In 1995, Mr. Locher received the U.S. Special Operations Command Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to and support of special operations.

For the next ten years, Mr. Locher consulted, lectured, and wrote. He served as a senior consultant to the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces and as a member of the secretary of defense’s Task Force on Defense Reform and the National Security Study Group of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. In 1999, Mr. Locher joined the board of directors of Power Medical Interventions, a medical device company. Subsequently, he was elected company secretary and later board vice chairman. In 2002, Texas A&M University Press published his book, Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon. 

In 2003-04, Mr. Locher chaired the Defense Reform Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2005, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution awarded Mr. Locher its Medal of Honor for “outstanding service to the United States.” In 2007, the SO/LIC Division of the National Defense Industrial Association presented Mr. Locher with its highest honor, the R. Lynn Rylander Award, for his distinctive contributions. From 2006-12, he served as president and CEO of the Project on National Security Reform, a nonprofit organization that worked to modernize and improve the U.S. national security system. In 2013-4, Mr. Locher taught at the U.S. Army War College as a Visiting Professor of Interagency National Security Studies. In 2019, the Global SOF Foundation (GSOF) presented Mr. Locher its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Currently, Mr. Locher holds an appointment as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Joint Special Operations University, serves as an Institute for Defense Analyses Consultant, lectures for the Institute for Security Governance in Monterey, California, and serves on the GSOF Advisory Council and Board of Advisors of Spirit of America.


  • We are extremely excited to convene the community at SOF Week 2024. This convention for U.S. and International SOF will include a diverse slate of programs, to include professional development sessions, interactive discussions about the future of SOF, and an up-close view of some of the best tech available to our warfighters. GSOF looks forward to working with USSOCOM to make SOF Week 2024 an impactful event.
    Stuart Bradin
    President and CEO, GSOF


Co-sponsorship of this event does not imply endorsement of GSOF, its services, or products by the United States Government, the Department of Defense, or U.S. Special Operations Command.