National security and counter-terrorism forum set for Oct. 16

A forum on national security, “From Cyber-Warfare to Biological Attacks: Counter-Terrorism in the 21st Century,” will be held Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. in Room 4309 of the Stevenson Center at Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt community is invited to attend and participate in the open forum, which will allow for questions from the audience.

The featured panel of speakers includes:

Ken Pence has had leadership positions in the field of program management and technology adoption/assessment in his 31 years with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. His research at the School of Engineering focuses on high-risk decision-making, homeland security, systems engineering and performance evaluations of technology implementations. From his position as a grant reviewer for the National Institute of Justice, he has evaluated grants for vehicle incapacitation methodology, sensors/scanners, less-lethal weaponry and wireless/wired communications. He currently teaches engineering economics, program/project management and applied behavioral science. As co-primary investigator on a $1.2 million Department of Homeland Security grant, he is aiding development of adaptive online courses to teach information security, from security basics to cyber-warfare defense. Pence is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and has developed programs and taught police departments in Northern Ireland, England and Germany in security/special weapons and tactics. He specializes in high-tech system adoption for tactical use, systems integration and program management.

Frank Libutti, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general who also served as head of the New York City Police Department’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, deputy police commissioner, and oversaw the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence operations as undersecretary for information analysis and infrastructure protection. Libutti’s military career included time spent in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Kenya and Somalia, as well as assignments within the United States, during which he oversaw more than 80,000 Marines.

Carol Atkinson, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and now a professor in Vanderbilt’s political science department. Atkinson is a former intelligence officer, war planner and nuclear target analyst as well as a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. She has taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College and Stanford University. Atkinson’s current research includes conceptualizing biological agents as weapons of warfare.

The panel members each will discuss briefly their areas of expertise, followed by an open forum for questions and discussion from the audience. The discussion will be moderated by alumnus Jerry Breast (A&S ‘58), who currently serves as chairman of Vanderbilt’s Naval ROTC Alumni Association. Breast retired as a rear admiral in 1990 after 32 years as a naval aviator. During his career, he flew light attack jets, including 336 combat missions over North Vietnam; commanded the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Independence (CV-62); was director of operations at the U.S. Space Command; and commanded Carrier Battle Group Two in the 1986 strike on then-terrorist state Libya.

There will also be a video archive of the forum available at

This event is sponsored by Vanderbilt Naval ROTC.