Ron Capps

Ron capps
Researcher & Simulation Developer, ICONS Project, START
University of Maryland

A faculty member of the University of Maryland and staff member at START, Ron Capps is a researcher and scenario designer for the ICONS project. He served in government for 25 years as a soldier in airborne and special operations units as a combat arms, area intelligence, and foreign area officer, and as a Department of State Foreign Service officer (political affairs). Ron is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. His essays and short stories have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Time, The American Interest and other venues. Three of his essays have been listed as notable in Best American Essays (2012, 2014, 2015). Ron was twice awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan. He was named an “Exceptional Collector of Human Intelligence” by the director of central intelligence, and a “Distinguished Analyst” by the director of national intelligence. The American Foreign Service Association awarded Ron the William R. Rivkin Award, “For intellectual courage and the creative use of dissent in foreign policy.” In 2017, the Johns Hopkins University Foreign Affairs Symposium awarded Ron the Anne Smedinghoff Award for a “life dedicated to service, social justice, and a commitment to others.” His memoir, Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years was published in 2014.


  • The Johns Hopkins University, M.A., Writing, 
  • The John Hopkins University, Master of Liberal Arts
  • U.S. Army War College, Defense Strategy Course
  • Command and General Staff Officer’s Course
  • NATO Staff Officer’s Course
  • Military Operations Training Course
  • Defense Strategic Debriefer Course
  • Intelligence in Counter-Terrorism
  • Psychological Operations Officer Course
  • Old Dominion University, B.A., English Literature
  • Named Distinguished Analyst by the Director of National Intelligence
  • American Foreign Service Association William R. Rivken Award “for intellectual courage and the creative use of dissent in foreign policy”
  • Department of State Superior Honor Award (Iraq, Kosovo)
  • Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster (Afghanistan)
  • Department of State Meritorious Honor Award (Darfur, Central African Republic)
  • Named an Exceptional Collector of Human Intelligence by the Director of Central Intelligence
  • Essays listed as notable in Best American Essays 2012, 2014, 2015
Professional Experience:
  • Advisor, British Defence Staff, British Embassy Washington DC
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Maryland University College
  • Foreign Service officer, U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Army and Army Reserve officer

Researcher on START Projects