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White House Fellows Class Includes Current, Former Officers

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2012 – Six current or former military officers have been appointed to the 2012-2013 class of White House Fellows, the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships announced yesterday.

Then-President Lyndon B. Johnson created the White House Fellows Program in 1964 to give promising American leaders first-hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs, officials said.

“This unique opportunity to work within our nation’s government is designed to encourage active citizenship and a lifelong commitment to service,” officials said in a news release announcing the appointments. “The Fellows also take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, and current affairs. Community service is another essential element of the program, and Fellows participate in service projects throughout the year in the Washington, D.C., area.”

The new class includes:

-- Elliot Ackerman, chief operating officer for Americans Elect, an initiative that offers a nonpartisan platform for individuals to run for elected office. Prior to this, he served as a Marine Corps special operations and infantry officer and later as a paramilitary case officer in the CIA. He served multiple deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, and participated in post-Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. As a special operations officer, Elliot led a team of 14 Marines who served as the primary combat advisors to a 700-man Afghan commando battalion. As an infantry officer, he led a 46-man rifle platoon during the November 2004 Battle of Fallujah. His military awards include the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor, and the Purple Heart.

-- Army Maj. Archie Bates, who most recently served as executive officer to the director of Army human resources policy. Previously, he served as an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., where he was director of leadership and management courses, academic liaison between the dean and the head football coach, and officer in charge of Special Olympics. He deployed to Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and was responsible for the individual readiness of more than 8,000 soldiers.

-- Air Force Maj. Ariel Grace Batungbacal, who most recently served as deputy executive assistant to the Joint Staff’s director of intelligence. Before that, she was branch chief for Middle East strategy, leading intelligence efforts for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's policy development. She served over five years in overseas assignments, supporting military operations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, including three deployments supporting operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. She has committed about 3,000 hours over the last decade to community organizations that cultivate women leaders, such as Junior League, Daughters of the American Revolution and Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc.

-- Lt. Cmdr. Chris Domencic, a Navy SEAL. He has deployed to Central and South America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, including four deployments to Afghanistan and two to Iraq. During these deployments, he conducted numerous counternarcotic, counterterrorism, hostage rescue and other special operations missions and served as a joint special operations task force commander. He also served for several years at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. His military decorations include four Bronze Stars, including two with the “V” device for valor.

-- Kermit Jones, who recently finished his master of public administration degree with a regional specialization in South Asia at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. There, he founded a chapter of Developments in Literacy, a nonprofit organization that has educated more than 16,000 elementary school students in Pakistan and led a team that advised on technology use and teacher training. He served in the Navy as a flight surgeon for a Marine helicopter casualty evacuation squadron in Habbaniyah, Iraq.

-- Lt. Cmdr. Anne O’Connell, who has commanded four Coast Guard ships, including one in the Middle East conducting international security missions as part of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Most recently, she commanded a ship in the Caribbean responsible for regional security priorities, including counternarcotics, anti-human trafficking and other operations. She has also served as an aide-de-camp to the second-in-command of the Coast Guard.

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