About the Center for Adaptation and Innovation


The Center for Adaptation and Innovation (CAI) identifies and defines new and potentially disruptive defense capabilities. CAI assists senior defense leaders grappling with the most demanding issues and problems posed by a complex and uncertain security environment.

The purpose of CAI is to identify and define new and potentially disruptive defense capabilities. The Center operates on these organizing principles:

Sources for military innovation and adaptation will no longer be limited to traditional means.
Many adaptations and innovations will come from advances in the commercial sector.
Current requirements and acquisition processes do not create capability at the required pace of the operating environment.
Innovative thought will continue to provide strategic and operational advantage.








Meet Our Team

Michael Swetnam, CEO Michael Swetnam assisted in founding the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in 1994. Since its inception, he has served as Chairman of the Board and currently serves as the Institute's Chief Executive Officer.

He has authored and edited several books and articles including: "Al-Qa'ida: Ten Years After 9/11 and Beyond," co-authored with Yonah Alexander; "Cyber Terrorism and Information Warfare," a four volume set he co-edited; "Usama bin Laden's al-Qaida: Profile of a Terrorist Network," co-authored with Yonah Alexander; "ETA: Profile of a Terrorist Group," co-authored with Yonah Alexander and Herbert M. Levine; and "Best Available Science: Its Evolution, Taxonomy, and Application," co-authored with Dennis K. McBride, A. Alan Moghissi, Betty R. Love and Sorin R. Straja.

Mr. Swetnam is currently a member of the Technical Advisory Group to the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In this capacity, he provides expert advice to the U.S. Senate on the R&D investment strategy of the U.S. Intelligence Community. He also served on the Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on Counterterrorism and the Task Force on Intelligence Support to the War on Terrorism.

From 1990 to 1992, Mr. Swetnam served as a Special Consultant to President Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) where he provided expert advice on Intelligence Community issues including budget, community architecture, and major programs. He also assisted in authoring the Board's assessment of Intelligence Community support to Desert Storm/Shield.

Prior to forming the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Mr. Swetnam worked in private industry as a Vice President of Engineering at the Pacific-Sierra Research Corporation, Director of Information Processing Systems at GTE, and Manager of Strategic Planning for GTE Government Systems.

Prior to joining GTE, he worked for the Director of Central Intelligence as a Program Monitor on the Intelligence Community Staff (1986-1990). He was responsible for the development and presentation to Congress of the budget of the National Security Agency, and helped develop, monitor and present to Congress the DOE Intelligence Budget. Mr. Swetnam was also assigned as the IC Staff representative to intergovernmental groups that developed the INF and START treaties. He assisted in presenting these treaties to Congress for ratification. Collateral duties included serving as the host to the DCI's Nuclear Intelligence Panel and Co-Chairman of the S&T Requirements Analysis Working Group.

Mr. Swetnam served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years as an active duty and reserve officer, Special Duty Cryptology. He has served in several public and community positions including Northern United Kingdom Scout Master (1984-85); Chairman, Term limits Referendum Committee (1992-93); President (1993) of the Montgomery County Corporate Volunteer Council, Montgomery County Corporate Partnership for Managerial Excellence (1993); and the Maryland Business Roundtable (1993). He is also on the Board of Directors of Space and Defense Systems Inc., Dragon Hawk Entertainment Inc., and the Governing Board of The Potomac Institute of New Zealand.

LtGen George Flynn, USMC (Ret.), Member, Board of Regents 
LtGen Flynn joins the Potomac Institute with significant operational expertise and proven leadership, management, training and education following a distinguished career of more than 38 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Years of practical experience and graduate level education in national security and international affairs are reflected in an extensive record across a broad spectrum of defense operations.  While on active duty, LtGen Flynn created the Joint Force Development Directorate at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, managing more than 2,000 people and a $1 billion organization that developed new military operational, concepts, doctrine and training.  He supervised all elements of the Combatant Commander exercise program, which provides staff training and evaluates the mission performance of the largest military command organization in the United States.  He also developed policy for and provided oversight of all professional military education.  As Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Combat Development and Integration, LtGen Flynn determined future requirements for all equipment, training, personnel, facilities, and supporting activities of the Marine Corps.  His role as the Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Corps, Iraq, involved leading combat operations and providing direct supervision of support activities of more than 50,000 service members and civilians, while conducting operational planning and execution to enable coalition operations, including extensive interaction with United Kingdom and Coalition Special Operations Forces.  LtGen Flynn supervised and provided oversight, policy and guidance for Marine Corps training as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Training and Education Command.  As Chief of Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command, LtGen Flynn supervised all support requirements for a 2,000-person organization, responsible for the planning, direction and financial execution of the headquarters.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has several Masters Degrees in National Security and Strategy, and International Relations.

grayGeneral Alfred M. Gray, USMC (Ret.), Chairman, Board of Regents, Member of the Board of Directors, and Senior Fellow

General Al Gray, USMC (Ret) serves as Chairman of the Board of Regents; Member of the Board of Directors; and Senior Fellow of the Potomac Institute of Policy Studies (PIPS).

General Gray has served as Board Chairman and CEO for several public and private companies and has consulted to United States and international industry and government. General Gray’s other duties have included service on the Defense Science Board; the Defense Special Operations Advisory Group; the National Security Agency Science Advisory Board; the National Reconnaissance Office Gold Team; the Defense Operations Support Office Advisory Team; and as Director of the Advanced Concept Demonstration Technology for Combat in the Littorals. Consistent with his interest in education and helping servicemen and women, he is trustee Emeritus of Norwich University, past trustee on Monmouth University, past member of the National Defense University Board of Visitors and is Chairman Emeritus of American Military University. He is Chairman Emeritus of The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and the America Fund, having served over ten years, to help take care of wounded veterans and their families. General Gray currently serves as Chancellor of The Marine Military Academy, Chairman of the US Marine Youth Foundation, and as a Trustee of the American Public University System. In 1991, Al Gray retired after 41 years of service to the United States Marine Corps. From 1987-1991, General Gray served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps, and was advisor to both Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush. As Commandant, he instituted and published a Warfighting Philosophy for Marines based on the Maneuver Warfare Thought Process. General Gray developed and implemented a new long-range strategic planning process for the Marine Corps, established the Marine Corps University, and implemented other longstanding changes, such as ensuring that every Marine is a rifleman first and that the Marine Corps was Special Operations Capable.

General Gray enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950 and achieved the rank of Sergeant while serving in amphibious reconnaissance with Fleet Marine Force, Pacific aboard the submarine USS Perch (ASSP-313). He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1952. In the early years, he held extensive assignments overseas in the Far East and Southeast Asia in infantry, artillery, intelligence, communications and special operations. He has held every infantry command assignment from platoon commander through Division Commander and has commanded every Marine Air Ground Task Force from Marine Corps Expeditionary Unit to Marine Expedition Force. Among his awards are two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Navy Distinguished Service Medals, Distinguished Service Medals from the US Army, the US Air Force and the US Coast Guard, the Silver Star Medal, two Legion of Merits with Combat "V", four Bronze Star Medals with Combat "V", thee Purple Hearts, three Joint Commendation Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and Star, as well as foreign awards from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Korea and The Netherlands. General Gray holds a B.S. from the University of the State of New York. He also attended Lafayette College, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the Army War College. General Gray is the recipient of two honorary Doctor of Law degrees, one from Lafayette College and the other from Monmouth University, and was awarded a Doctor of Military Science from Norwich University. He was the first awardee of an Honorary Doctorate of Strategic Intelligence degree from the Defense Intelligence College (now the Joint Military Intelligence College), and also was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for Leadership from the Franklin University, and an Honorary Doctorate from the American Public University System.

Tom O'learyTom O’Leary is Executive Vice President and COO of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. He retired from the Marine Corps in 2001. In July of 2001, he joined the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies as a Senior Research Fellow and was subsequently detailed as an IPA from Potomac Institute to the Department of Navy. While an IPA, he served as the first Program Manager for the Littoral Combat Future Naval Capabilities program, then as the Director, Expeditionary Warfare Operations Technology Division, Office of Naval Research, and finally as Technical Director, Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

As a Marine, he served in a variety of service and joint command and staff assignments. He participated in several operations to include the Multi-National Peace-Keeping Force, Beirut; Operation Snowcap; Operation Desert Shield; Operation Desert Storm; Operation Sea Angel; and Operation Restore Hope.   He also participated in the Marine Corps' Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWE) Hunter Warrior and Urban Warrior.

Upon retiring from the Marine Corps, he joined the Institute for Defense Analyses as a Research Staff Member where he was the Task Leader for the Joint Study on Effects Based Operations.

Mr. O'Leary holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Master of Science Degree from the University of Southern California, and a Master of Arts Degree from the Naval War College.

Over the last thirty years, Mr. O'Leary has developed technical expertise in a number of areas:

  • Strategic Planning and Policy
  • Program and Financial Management
  • Joint and Service Transformation
  • Joint and Service Concept Development and Experimentation
  • Operational Command and Control
  • Science and Technology Management
  • Science and Technology Transition and Insertion
  • Countering Terrorism
  • Urban Operations
  • Training and Education Management

reistBrigadier General David G. Reist, USMC (Ret.), is Senior Fellow for the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

He most recently served as the Assistant Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics Department, (LP), Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, Washington, DC.

Brigadier General Reist’s command assignments include: CO Company A, 2nd Landing Support Battalion (1981-1982); CO Company A, Marine Barracks 8th & I (1985-1986); CO Beach & Port Company, 2nd Landing Support Battalion (1989-1990); CO 1st Landing Support Battalion (1997-1998); CO 1st Transportation Support Battalion (2002-2004) (redesignated Transportation Support Group during Operation Iraqi Freedom; Combat Service Support Group-11 during Operation Iraqi Freedom-II) and CG 1st Force Service Support Group (redesignated 1st Marine Logistics Group) (2005-2007).

Brigadier General Reist’s staff assignments include: Division G-4, 3rd Marine Division (1982-1983); Head, Motor Transport, Engineer, and Utilities Writer Section, Marine Corps Institute (1983-1984); Registrar, Marine Corps Institute (1984-1985); Operations Officer, MSSG-22 for LF6F 4-87 and 1-89 (1987-1989); Executive Officer, 2nd Landing Support Battalion (1990); Ground Prepositioning Program Sponsor (1990-1992) and Maritime Prepositioning Program Sponsor (1992-1993), Plans, Policies, and Operations, Headquarters Marine Corps; Current Operations Officer, U.S. Central Command J-4/7 (1994-1997); Deputy G-3, 1st FSSG (2000); Faculty Advisor (2000-2001) and Deputy Director (2001-2002), Marine Corps Command and Staff College; Chief of Staff, 1st FSSG (2004-2005) and Deputy CG (Support), I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward (2006-2007).

Brigadier General Reist graduated from the State University of New York at Geneseo in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He also holds a Master of Strategic Studies from the Marine Corps War College and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

Dwight LyonsDwight Lyons is a Senior Research Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and the Director of the Concepts and Analyses Division. He holds a masters degree in physics, served in the U.S. Army, and in addition has over 26 years providing analytical and technical support for Naval operations, developing systems and processes, operational and strategic planning, definition and management of Science and Technology (S&T) programs, experimentation, transition of successful S&T products, research program financial management, and participation in “real-world” military operations. He has worked on a number of programs, formulating and executing S&T programs, conducting technology assessments and applications to military operational needs, working with teams at ONR and DARPA, military laboratories, and operational commands, and including both near-term transitions and the development of strategic long range S&T plans. Mr. Lyons is recognized as a leading expert in the analytical and technical support of warfighting and S&T programs.


The Institute welcomes back Jennifer Lato, a former intern and current Research Associate in the CEO’s Office. Jennifer first joined the Institute in 2013, and provides analytic and research support for the Corrosion Policy and Oversight (CPO) and Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) efforts. Jennifer also provides editorial assistance for Potomac Institute publications such as U.S. Health Policy: An Insider’s Perspective (2014).  Jennifer has a B.A.in History and Spanish from SUNY Geneseo as well as a M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington Universities Elliott School of International Affairs. 

Jennifer brings an interdisciplinary perspective to policy analysis. Prior to joining the Potomac Institute, Jennifer worked in the Department of Treasury's Office of Financial Assets Control, where she assisted sanctions investigators as part of a as part of an executive order to combat transnational criminal entities. Additionally, Jennifer held a short-term post at the Bureau of Intelligence of Research (INR) at the State Department. In this position, Jennifer coordinated the review of strategic signals intelligence requirements with INR analysts.

Contact Us

To join the mailing list for events and published works, or for other details on CAI, please contact cai[at]potomacinstitute[dot]org.


Internship opportunities are available.

Students interested in working on topics related to CAI are encouraged to apply to the Potomac Institute Policy Internship program. Duties include supporting senior staff in policy research and analysis, event coordination, editing, and publication assistance. No administrative duties will be tasked. Click here to visit the Potomac Institute Internship Program


The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Ballston Metro Center Office Towers
901 North Stuart Street, Suite 1200
Arlington, VA 22203
Tel 703.525.0770

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Our Mission

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science and technology issues facing our society. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful science and technology policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.


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