Retired Major Jason Criss Howk is professor, writer, interfaith leader, and veteran advocate.
Jason spent 23 years in the Army rising from Infantry Paratrooper Private to Fire-team Leader Sergeant in the 504th PIR and 511th Pathfinders. He earned a scholarship to attend 4 years of college and was the top graduate from Auburn University ROTC in 2000. Returning to the 82nd Airborne Division he served as a sapper and light equipment platoon leader in the 307th Engineer battalion and 618th Engineer company. After engineer company command Jason earned another scholarship to attend the Naval Postgraduate School, and was chosen to become a Foreign Area Officer in 2007 specializing in both the Arab world and South Asia. He retired from the Army in 2015 in Washington DC.
He has conducted defense, diplomacy, education, and intelligence missions globally. Focusing on Afghanistan since 2002, Jason directly assisted and advised four generals and numerous ambassadors. He continues to advise various government agencies on Afghanistan’s security forces and peace process, and regularly discusses it in print and on television and radio.
Jason advised on foreign policy issues during the 2016-17 Presidential transition as a member of the non-partisan national security council team and helped to build the NSC Staff.
He holds a BA in Criminology from Auburn University and an MA in Middle East and South Asia Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School. Jason studied Dari (Afghan Farsi) and Arabic at the Defense Language Institute, is a Malone Fellow in Arab and Islamic Studies, and was a term-member in the Council on Foreign Relations.
For his work on Afghanistan over a 12-year period Major Howk was awarded two Bronze Star Medals and the Legion of Merit from the U.S. Department of Defense. For his direct work with Afghan officials he was awarded the Afghanistan Governmental Success Medal from the President of Afghanistan.
Jason has spent over 25 years focused on the Broader Middle East and Islam. Since 2015 he has been teaching and speaking about Islam across the nation to over 250 audiences. He also hosted “We’re Just Talking About It,” a podcast that explains Islam to non-Muslims in an understandable and unbiased way.
He is the award-winning author of The Qur’an: A Modern-English Chronological Interpretation and numerous other works. From the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) he earned certificates in Conflict Analysis, Negotiation and Conflict Management, and Interfaith Conflict Resolution. He is currently publishing an Afghan Security Sector study for USIP.