Upcoming Events:

Topic: History of the OSS
Speaker: Phil Gioia, Historian
Date: March 17, 2021 
Time: 12 noon
Location: via Zoom (pre-register at to receive a zoom link to the meeting).


On nights in 1944 when the moon was right, matte-black B-24 Liberators of the ‘Carpetbaggers’, the 801st Bomb Group, flew hundreds of miles into Occupied France, parachuting supplies and agents to French Resistance forces. These highly dangerous operations were only one small slice of a global organization, which punched far above its weight in its effect on the enemy.

Led by the legendary ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, recipient of the Medal of Honor in World War I, the Office of Strategic Service’s eclectic collection of Ivy League graduates, Hollywood personalities, safecrackers, demolitions experts, street fighters and ‘dirty tricks’ specialists led guerrilla forces, gathered intelligence, and conducted sabotage and assassination with enormous effect on enemy forces, worldwide. The OSS’s land-sea-air Maritime Unit was the forerunner of today’s Navy SEALS. Its Operational Groups were the forerunners of todays’ Army Special Forces. The OSS itself was the forerunner of today’s Central Intelligence Agency.

Join historian Phil Gioia as he ‘walks back the cat’ on the history, organization, personalities, and unique equipment of this great organization, in which his father served, in England and Italy.

Phil Gioia grew up as an Army Brat on US Army posts in the United States, Japan, and Italy. After graduating from Virginia Military Institute, he was commissioned as a Regular Officer in the US Army. Twice wounded in action in Vietnam, he served as an Infantry platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division during the 1968 TET Offensive, and as an Infantry company commander in the First Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in 1969-70.
Phil donated the jungle boots he wore on both combat tours to the National Museum of the United States Army, which became part of the US Army’s Permanent Collection on the Vietnam War.
Following his military service, Phil received an MBA from Stanford University. He also holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. 
Phil has thirty years of experience in business management, has served as investor, CEO or board member of emerging-growth corporations in the technology sector, and is a co-founder of Pathfinder Partners LLC, providing services to the US defense and national security communities.

The following meeting will be re-scheduled to a later date:

Topic: Counterterrorism, Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting and Law Enforcement Response
Speaker: FBI Special Agent Michael Gimbel
Date: Exact date to be determined (originally scheduled for  March 11, 2020)
Location: Via Zoom 
Time: TBD

2019 ended with a shooting at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey, a stabbing at a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration in New York and another shooting at a church in Texas. What can we do to prevent, mitigate, and respond to violent incidents?

The FBI is committed to remaining agile in its approach to the terrorism threat, which has continued to evolve since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Years after these attacks, the threat landscape has expanded considerably, and international terrorism remains a serious threat. The threat of domestic terrorism also remains persistent overall, with actors crossing the line from exercising First Amendment-protected rights to committing crimes in furtherance of violent agendas.

FBI Special Agent (SA) Michael Gimbel is with the FBI San Francisco Division and San Jose Resident Agency (RA) located in Campbell. He will provide an illustrated Unclassified briefing on the current Counterterrorism efforts by the FBI. The Counterterrorism Division (CTD) is a division of the National Security Branch which investigates terrorist threats inside the United States, provides information on terrorists outside the country, and tracks known terrorists worldwide.

SA Mike Gimbel has extensive experience in law enforcement beginning in 1993 with 8 years of service as a Criminal Enforcement Investigator for the State of Florida. In 2000, he joined the FBI and was involved with the investigation of federal drug violations and organized crime activity until he was re-assigned to an International Terrorism squad following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Over the past 18 years, SA Gimbel has investigated matters relating to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Sunni Extremist Groups, Hezbollah, and most recently, ISIS. SA Gimbel is currently assigned to the Private Sector Engagement squad and works on developing and fostering relationships between Private Industry and the FBI. As the InfraGard Coordinator, he oversees the public-private collaboration with the FBI in an effort to strengthen the nation’s critical infrastructure and US National Security. SA Gimbel is also a certified instructor and teaches terrorism classes at the FBI Academy as well as to state, county, and local law enforcement, both around the US and Internationally.

SA Gimbel was the first FBI agent on-scene at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Active Shooter incident. He will share some insight on the initial response, communicating with Gilroy PD and local law enforcement agencies, and coordinating the FBI response to assist with the handling and processing of the crime scene.

Past Meetings:

Topic: The Islamic Republic of Iran and the new United States Administration
Speaker: Farhad Mansurian
Date: December 9, 2020

The presentation covered such topics as the decision-making process in the Islamic Republic of Iran, role of security & intelligence agencies in that process, upcoming June 2021 Presidential election in Iran, Biden and Trump administration arms deals, what the Iranian leaders say and what the Iranian people want.

Topic: Leadership in the Military: Restoring Civility to Our Discourse
Speaker: Rear Admiral John Bitoff, U.S. Navy (ret)
Date: October 7, 2020
Rear Admiral John Bitoff addressed the rise of incivility in America, root causes of the corrosion of manners, and why the virtues of humility and kindness seemed to be on the wane, recounting military stories and personal anecdotes.
Topic: Israel’s National Security Challenges: A Briefing on New Defense Technologies from Israel’s Own Intelligence Insider
Speaker: Brigadier General (Res) Professor Jacob Nagel
Date: Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Time: 6:30PM – 8:30PM
Location: Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street (cross street: Arguello), San Francisco
This event was co-sponsored by Congregation Emanu-El and the American Technion Society.
Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Location: Basque Cultural Center, 599 Railroad Avenue, South San Francisco, CA
Speaker: Dr. Matthew Brazil, Fellow at The Jamestown Foundation.
Topic: Beijing’s Spy Apparatus
Hitherto, almost all writings about Beijing’s espionage and influence operations have focused on individual cases that shed little light on the actual nature of their organs of state security. Dr. Matthew Brazil spoke about how he and his co-author researched original sources in Chinese and unearthed new insights into Beijing’s most secret operations at home and abroad.
Dr. Brazil is a non-resident Fellow at The Jamestown Foundation. He worked in Asia for over 20 years as a U.S. Army officer, American diplomat, and corporate security manager. He is the co-author of Chinese Communist Espionage: An Intelligence Primer (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, Nov 2019)
Date: Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Location: Basque Cultural Center, South San Francisco, CA
Speaker: Abraham D, Sofaer, George P. Shultz Fellow in Foreign Policy and National Security Affairs, Emeritus, Hoover Institution
Topic: Taking on Iran: Strength, Diplomacy and the Iranian Threat
We also honored the passing of Therese LeGallo, our immediate Past President at this meeting.
Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Location: Basque Cultural Center, South San Francisco, CA
Speaker: DEA Assistant Regional Director (ret) Bruce Goldberg

Topic: International Cooperation: How he and his team of DEA agents collaborated with the Ecuadorian Special Police and Military to uncover and investigate the first-ever narco-submarine. 

Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Location: Basque Cultural Center, South San Francisco
Speaker: Bill Monroe, former Lockeed LMSC Group
Topic: CORONA Satellite Project: The Government-Private Sector Cooperation, the Military Value Discoveries, Where on Earth This Happened and the Impact on Silicon Valley
Date: December 7, 2018 (canceled)
Location: San Francisco War Memorial Building, 405 Van Ness Avenue, Lecture Hall 210, San Francisco
Speaker: Dr. William H. Overholt
President of Fung Global Institute; Senior Research Fellow at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Principal of AsiaStrat, LLC.
Topic: China’s Crisis of Success
Date: December 4, 2018
Location: The Marines Memorial Building
Speaker: Special Agent in Charge, John F. Bennett, FBI San Francisco Office; Special guests: K9 handlers from TSA
Topic: Economic Espionage: How to Spot It, How to Stop It

This was an inaugural event sponsored by the four AFCEA chapters located in the Northern California Region.

Date: November 14, 2018
Location: Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
Speaker: Ami Ayalon, former head of Israeli Security Services (Shin Bet);
Commander, Israeli Navy (ret); former member of the Knesset
Topic: Israel at a Crossroad

This event was sponsored by Congregation Emanu-El.

Date: August 29, 2018
Location: Basque Cultural Center, South San Francisco
Speaker: FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Lisa R. Gentilcore
Topic: Chinese Use of Social Media
Date: May 23, 2018
Location: Basque Cultural Center, South San Francisco
Speaker: Ralph Simpson, Historian
Topic: History of the Enigma Machine

Date: April 4-7, 2018
Location: Hilton San Francisco Union Square                                                        Speaker: International Studies Association (ISA)Conference                              Topic: A wide range of panels, roundtables and presentations were held on topics related to intelligence studies, international studies, foreign policy, diplomatic studies, political science and counterterrorism/security.


Date: January 31, 2018
Location: Basque Cultural Center, 599 Railroad Avenue, South San Francisco, CA 94080
Speaker: Alan Brown, former Director of Engineering at Lockheed
Topic: History of the Lockheed Skunk Works and the Development of the F-117A Stealth Fighter


Thursday, October 12, 2017
Location: United Irish Cultural Center, 2700 45th Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Speaker: Brad Roberts, Director of the Center for Global Security Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory                                                              Topic: The Case for U.S. Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century


Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Time: 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Location: San Francisco War Memorial Building, 405 Van Ness Avenue, Lecture Hall 210, San Francisco
Speaker: Roger S. Dong, Chair, Chinese American Heroes/Former AFIO SF Chapter President. Panel discussion with Consul General of Russian Federation and Vice Consul General of China
Topic: China’s Belt and Road Initiative


International commentators have stated China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the greatest infrastructure project man has ever attempted. This lecture described current developments in BRI and representatives from nations currently involved related their story and what they expect from this global endeavor.

Date: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Time: 11:30AM no-host cocktail; 12:00 Noon Meeting
Location: Basque Cultural Center, 599 Railroad Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080
Speaker: Brig. General Roderick Macdonald, ret., British Armed Forces
Topic: Commando Engineers in the Falklands War

Date: Thursday, January 12, 2017
Time: 11:30AM no-host cocktail; 12:00 Noon Meeting
Speaker: Special Agent in Charge, John F. Bennett, FBI San Francisco Office
Topic: Current Events

John F. Bennett currently serves as Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Francisco Division. Prior to his current assignment he served as Section Chief (SC) of the Digital Forensics Laboratories and managed several programs within the FBI’s Digital Forensics and Analysis Section, including: Cryptologic Programs; Malicious Software Research; Audio/Video and Image Analysis; Computer Scientist Programs; Computer Analysis Response Team; and Certifications Accreditation and Forensic Training Programs for the Operational Technology Division. SC Bennett was previously assigned Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Cyber Investigations, Crimes Against Children, Civil Rights Investigations and Air Operations for the San Francisco Division. His career in law enforcement spans 26 years with assignments on the east and west coasts. SC Bennett’s diverse experience includes Organized Crime, Domestic Terrorism, Tactical Operations and Weapons of Mass Destruction. SC Bennett is acknowledged as a world expert in the field of Child Exploitation and Crimes Against Children. As such, he successfully managed the FBI Innocent Images Program at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, DC. SC Bennett has trained international law enforcement officers in proven techniques to address abductions, exploitation and crimes against children. He also led global manhunts with Interpol and was instrumental in creating high performing global task forces to combat cyber crime.

Sunday, December 11, 2016
Speaker: Mosab Hassan Yousef, AKA “The Green Prince”

Topic: An Evening with a Mossad Informant – Movie Screening and Q&A
Location: Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco

Mosab Hassan Yousef, aka “The Green Prince”, son of a top Hamas leader, secretly worked undercover for the Israeli Mossad for years, saving hundreds of lives before fleeing Gaza for a new life in the U.S.  Movie screening followed by Q&A with Mosab Hassan Yousef. This event was hosted by Congregation Emanu-El.

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Speaker: Peter Robinson, Author and Journalist
Topic: Cambridge Spies: The Impact of Kim Philby, Donald McClean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and Others on American – British Relations
Monday, February 29, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Matthew Brazil, Research Fellow, Jamestown Foundation
Topic: China’s Harder Line Against Foreign Influence – Implications for US Business

Dr. Brazil’s talk covered:

– Examples of past surges in anti-foreign sentiment in China
– An outline of who the CCP security services are
– Uptick in detentions in China of various sorts of people on charges of endangering state security
– Stats on the detention of foreign business people, students, and NGO workers
– Hypothesis on why the CCP is pursuing a harder line, and how that will affect the ability of US firms to do business there
– Business travel back to China by PRC citizens employed in the US
– Arrest of a Chinese national employee of an American company for selling secrets to China: how to talk about the event with PRC employees in China and here in the US
– TSCM work in China
– Corporate investigations in China and law enforcement liaison
– How it works when the interested agency is Public Security
– How things change when the interested agency is State Security

Monday, February 29, 2016
Speakers: Barry Eisler, former CIA Case Officer and General Michael Hayden, former Director of NSA and CIA
Topic: The God’s Eye View: Privacy and Surveillance in the 21st Century and American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

Barry Eisler took us to the forbidding – and forbidden – places, programs, and conversations in the Intelligence Community: a war between those desperate to keep the state’s darkest secrets and those intent on revealing them.
General Michael Hayden offered an unapologetic insider’s look into the people who faced responsibilities head on: How did American intelligence respond to terrorism, a major war and the most sweeping technological revolution in the last 500 years; what was the NSA before 9/11 and how did it change in its aftermath; why did the NSA begin the controversial terrorist surveillance program that included the acquisition of domestic phone record and what else was set in motion during this period that formed the backdrop for the infamous Snowden revelations in 2013.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Speaker: FBI Special Agent Stonie Carlson
Topic: FBI and the U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force

FBI Special Agent Stonie Carlson provided a presentation
on the joint efforts of the FBI and the U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force to
locate and arrest violent fugitives in the Bay Area. The U.S. Marshals Fugitive
Task Force is the only fugitive task force in the Bay Area, includes
approximately 22 full-time personnel and incorporates several local, state, and
federal law enforcement organizations.  Each law enforcement organization draws a unique skill set, bringing tactical, technical and intelligence resources
under one umbrella and one mission. The Task Force affects over 800 arrests
regionally annually.

October 5, 2015
Speaker: Dr. Thomas Fingar, Former First Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.
Topic: Intelligence and the Iran Nuclear Agreement

July 15, 2015
Speaker: John Lightfoot, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism, FBI San Francisco Division
Topic: Current Issues in Terrorism: Here and Over There
The briefing covered Qa’ida today, the rise and threat of the Islamic State, domestic groups, and an update on recent, Bay Area cases.

May 28, 2015
Speaker: Capt. Lee Rosenberg, USN, ret., Managing Director of Navigating Preparedness Associates
Topic: Insider Threat – It’s Not Just Cybersecurity
The briefing covered insider threats. Not all criminal activity spawns from outside the agency or company. Employees, vendors and customers may be able to use insider knowledge to penetrate security systems resulting in asset loss. Understanding the sociological as well as the physical and cyber aspects of insider threat is essential to safeguarding the keys to the kingdom and protecting value

March 5, 2015
Speaker: Lieutenant Colonel Enrique A. Oti, National Security Affairs Fellow at the Hoover Institution
Topic: Chinese Threats to the Internet – It is Not Just Hacking.                       The briefing covered Chinese hacker methodologies and Chinese vision for the future of cyberspace and the threats to the U.S. that this entails. Four unique Chinese cyber strategies (domestic development, international environment, domestic security and war) were discussed.

December 18, 2014
Speaker: Dr. Russell Berman, Stanford University, Hoover Institution
Topic: U.S. Foreign Policy and the U.S. Intelligence Community

October 9, 2014 Meeting canceled
Speaker: WLt. Col. BC Thomas, United States Air Force, ret.
Topic: SR-71

August 14, 2014
Speaker: Welton Chang, Analyst, Department of Defense
Topic: Good Judgment Project: Frontiers of Optimal Political Forecasting for the Intelligence Community via an Open Source Methodology

June 19, 2014
Speaker: Scott C. Johnson, Investigative Journalist
Topic: The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son and the CIA

May 15, 2014
Speaker: Farhad Mansourian
Topic: Iranian Government Intelligence

March 6, 2014
Speaker: Former FBI Special Agent, Frank Doyle
Topic: Oklahoma City Bombing and Timothy McVeigh – 19th Anniversary

December 5, 2013
Speaker: LTJG Vincent H. Nguyen, U.S. Coastguard, Sector Key West Intel Staff
Topic: US Coast Guard Intelligence for the 21st Century

November 7, 2013
Speaker: Dr. Andy David, Israel’s Consul General to the Pacific Northwest
Topic: Middle East Turmoil and Israel

April 25, 2013
Speaker: Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson, San Francisco Division
Topic: The Continuing Transformation of the FBI

February 28, 2013
Speaker: Lt. Col. William I. Chadwick (ret.)
: Defense Strategy for Acquisition and its Influence on Intelligence Gathering

December 6, 2012
Speaker: Dr. Roger Canfield, Former Executive Director, U.S. Intelligence Council
Topic: What Did the CIA Really Know About the Antiwar Movement in Vietnam: Are We Doing Better Against Political Influence Operations by Al-Qa’ida and China Today

October 23, 2012
Speaker: Richard L. Holm
Topic: The Craft We Chose: My Life in the CIA. Holm spoke about his work in Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Directorate of Operations.

August 30, 2012
Speaker: Lt. Col. Joel Vowell, National Security Fellow, CISAC
Topic: Current topics on counterinsurgency.

May 24, 2012
Speaker: Lt. Col. Roger Dong
Topic: Lt. Col. Roger Dong spoke about major political and military changes ahead in China including the 2012 transitions in the Communist Party and potential problems in the Chinese military leadership.

March 29, 2012
Speaker: Ron Brooks, Director, Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) and Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NCHIDTA).
Topic: Captain Ron Brooks spoke about the National Fusion Center Networks’ Role in the Information Sharing Environment

February 2, 2012
Speaker: Maj. Gen. J. Michael Myatt, USMC (ret.), CEO of Marines Memorial
Topic: Maj. Gen. Myatt spoke on Reflections on Intelligence Support for Ground Commanders for Gulf War 1.0.

November 17, 2011
Speaker: SA Richard W. Held, FBI (ret.)
Topic: SA Held spoke about the impact of cyber attacks on the U.S. economy, defense capabilities and critical infrastructure.

September 29, 2011
Speaker: SSA Max Noel, Ret., Federal Bureau of Investigation
Topic: SSA Noel spoke about the UNABOM case: In February of 1996, following the identification of Theodore J. Kaczynski as the UNABOM suspect, SSA Noel was sent to Montana to lead a small group of UTF investigators. Through this team’s investigative efforts, SSA Noel served a search warrant and arrested Kaczynski at his cabin outside Lincoln, Montana on April 3, 1996. SSA Noel received commendations and awards from FBI Director Louie Freeh and United States Attorney General Janet Reno in recognition for his work on this case.

August 4, 2011
Speaker: Akiva Tor, Consul General of Israel for the Pacific Northwest Region
Topic: Revolving Unrest in the Middle East and Ramifications for the Security of Israel. CG Tor spoke about the revolving unrest in the Middle East to include events that started in Tunisia, moved to Egypt, Libya, Yemen and more recently, Syria and the resulting ramifications regarding the security of Israel.

June 2, 2011
Speaker: SSA Craig Fair, Acting Section Chief, FBI Counterintelligence Division
Topic: Russian Foreign Intelligence Service’s Illegals Network and Investigation in the US

March 24, 2011
Speaker: Captain Jeff Kline, US Navy, Ret.; Senior Lecturer, Navy Postgraduate School
Topic: Piracy on the High Seas: Somali Pirates

January 20, 2011
Speaker: SSA Steven Merrill, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Topic: 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks

December 2, 2010
Speaker: W. Michael Susong, Director of Information Security Intelligence at Pacific Gas & Electric Company and former CIA Operations officer
Topic: State of the Art of Electronic Crime and Cyber Warfare

September 16, 2010 (cancelled)
Speaker: Lt. Colonel Roger S. Dong, USAF ret.; Chairman, American Legion War Memorial Commission and Immediate Past President, AFIO Northern California Chapter
Topic: The People’s Liberation Army – a Real Threat?

July 22, 2010
Speaker: John Yoo, professor of law UC Berkeley and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice
Topic: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush

May 20, 2010
Speaker: Andre Le Gallo, former CIA Chief of Station and Senior National Intelligence Officer for Counterterrorism
Topic: Intelligence: Past and Present

March 12, 2010
Speaker: Michael Rinn, Vice President, Missile Defense Systems Division, Boeing Company
Topic: Airborne Laser Program

January 14, 2010
Speaker: Farhad Mansourian, former anti-terrorist officer in the Iranian Imperial Army
Topic: The Iranian Government Intelligence and Terror Network

December 8, 2009
Speaker: Thomas C. Reed, former Secretary of the Air Force and Special Assistant to The President for National Security Policy
Topic: A political History of Nuclear Weapons 1938-2008

October 22, 2009
Speaker: Dr. Kalev Sepp, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Capabilities
Topic: Special Operations

September 17, 2009
Speaker: R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence
Topic: Spies, Energy, and the New World of the 21st Century

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