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James Saenz

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Stabilization Policy


Mr. James Saenz is currently serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Stabilization Policy. In this capacity, he is responsible for all policies, strategies, priorities, guidance, resource allocation, and program execution applicable to Department of Defense (DoD) activities concerning counter illicit drug trafficking, counter transnational organized crime, counter threat finance, counter piracy, counter small uncrewed aerial systems, stability operations, peacekeeping missions, and civil affairs. In addition to supporting counterdrug efforts, counter transnational organized crime activities may include support to counter the illicit trafficking of people, wildlife, natural resources, weapons, and money. Mr. Saenz provides insightful policy advice to the Secretary of Defense and other senior DoD officials, and he ensures  interagency collaboration to counter illicit activity and promote global stability.

PAST EXPERIENCE:  Most recently, Mr. Saenz worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (DC Metro) as the Senior Operations Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer, where he developed strategies and business plans, led enterprise-wide transformation initiatives, and implemented programs to improve delivery of bus, rail, paratransit, and law enforcement services. Previously, Mr. Saenz served 30 years as a U.S. Army officer, most of that time in Special Forces (Green Berets), where he completed a variety of assignments throughout the world and commanded at all levels from detachment to brigade. Notably, he commanded two separate Special Forces detachments (A-Teams), the full-accounting mission in Vietnam, and the Army’s largest overseas garrison located in Germany. His operational and combat experience includes Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, numerous counter-narcotics missions in South and Central America, several disaster relief efforts in Central America, Operation Enduring Freedom, and multiple Global War on Terrorism activities at home and abroad.


EDUCATION:  Mr. Saenz holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a Master of Military Art and Science in Strategy from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.