Daniel Abel
Retired Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard. Former Deputy Commandant for Operations, USCG.
Background: Featured Speakers | Former Officers | Military Leaders
Topic: Business Strategy, Decision Making, Leadership, National Security

Speaker Profile

Summary: Daniel Abel tackles challenges from his experience of over 37 years of tactical to strategic roles in the Coast Guard, joint military settings, international engagements, industry teaming and the interagency. He is President of the coaching and consulting firm Status Paratus, and a Senior Fellow for both the RAND Corporation and the National Defense University. He has taught Crisis Leadership at the Master’s and Executive level for Harvard University, Dickinson College, Endicott College and the military’s Judge Advocate General School. He most recently stood up and led a COVID Joint Coordination Cell for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to enhance intra-HHS and interagency response. His final Coast Guard tour was as Deputy Commandant for Operations, where he set operational strategy, policy, guidance, and resources that addressed national priorities. This oversight of Coast Guard missions included: intelligence; international affairs; cyber; the maritime transportation system; search and rescue; maritime security; law enforcement; defense operations; environmental response; contingency planning; and the operational capabilities of cutter, boat, aviation, shore, and specialized forces. Leading the Coast Guard’s maritime regulatory and inspection functions, he partnered with industry to ensure common sense safeguards for this vital transportation mode.

From a joint military perspective, he was the Deputy Director of Operations at U.S. Northern Command and focused on homeland security and support to domestic emergency response. He later was Director of Operations at U.S. Southern Command leading all U.S. defense operations and cooperation with the 31 nations of Central and South America. This required tasking effective counter-drug/migration operations plus fielding responses to hurricane destruction of vulnerable island nations.

At the senior, Admiral level, he commanded Coast Guard forces in our nation’s Northeast. Challenges included leading the Coast Guard response and recovery for Superstorm Sandy and then safeguarding and reassuring the City of Boston after the Marathon Bombing. More northward, he commanded Coast Guard forces in Alaska, confronting an evolving Arctic and directing operations in the North Pacific and Arctic Ocean. Of note was the teaming with industry and a myriad of Federal agencies for the safe exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. He also oversaw significant international search & rescue and multinational fisheries enforcement efforts in the brutal climates of the Far North.

Why would a prospective client want you to be their keynote speaker or to support their speaking event? What are some compelling aspects of your background/career/experience that we should know about? 

I have had a unique, dynamic, and organizationally varied journey through my 37 years in uniform.  Retiring as a Coast Guard Vice Admiral, my career has put me on the front lines in leadership roles of national-level crisis responses.  Additionally, the placement of the Coast Guard within the Department of Homeland Security while being a branch of the Armed Forces, has provided a unique perspective from senior joint roles at Northern Command (Deputy Director of Operations), Southern Command (Director of Operations) and finally seated in “the tank” of the Pentagon with fellow service “Director of Operations” to forge and field solutions to national security challenges.

What are your primary topics/areas of expertise? Some examples may include: Conflict resolution, International Relations, Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, Cybersecurity, as well as specific countries or geographical regions. 

  • Crisis leadership, gleaned from senior-level roles for response to complex crises such as the Deepwater Horizon explosion/fire/spill, Hurricane Sandy response and recovery, influx of migrant children at the border, the Boston Marathon Bombing, safeguarding over a quarter of a million U.S. cruise passengers as COVID made its way into this dynamic industry,
  • Served as the Director of the Joint Coordination Cell for the Secretary of Health and Human Services as he confronted COVID.  Also, from nearly 38 years of Coast Guard service, I offer a unique multi-agency view of national security, especially maritime threats.  These challenges include protecting man from the sea, protecting the sea from man, and denying the sea as an avenue to harm our nation.

What are some positions you have held in your career that you would like prospective clients to know about?

  • I held the Coast Guard lead for the maritime response to Hurricane Sandy’s destruction of the New York metro area, Northern New Jersey, and Long Island. 
  • While serving as Deputy Director of Operations for U.S. Northern Command, I lead all U.S. military assistance to the “all hands-on deck” national response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 
  • As the senior Coast Guard official in the Arctic, I ensured a safe delivery of our multiple missions in a rapidly changing arctic, dealing with nation-state competition in an increasingly accessible region, was sensitive to native concerns, and mindful of environmental stewardship.
  • As the Coast Guard’s Director of Operations, I served a senior policy making role in both the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon, addressing homeland security and defense issues.  
  • Asked to remain on active duty for a 38th year, I served directly for the Secretary of Health and Human Services as his Director of the Joint Coordination Cell seeking to optimize the Federal response to minimize COVID’s impact.

What are some speaking events you’ve supported recently?

  • Capstone Speaker for The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School’s annual course that prepares military lawyers for Defense support of civil authorities.  Through case studies and firsthand “sea stories,” I reinforced the thorny legal and command and control complexities of deploying and employing federal troops for rescue/relief operations in our homeland.
  • Teamed with other active and retired Coast Guard admirals as a guest lecturer for Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI).  NPLI is the premier executive-level training for those in senior public and private sector roles who may have to lead large organizations or our nation through a “once in a career” crisis.  Seminar focus was my role as Director of Coast Guard operations in the world-wide draw down of nearly half million cruise passengers aboard over 300 ships sailing around the globe as COVID spread.
  • Lecturer for FEMA’s Executive Leadership Seminar focused on a cohort of senior public and private officials preparing to lead through crisis.
  • Capstone Speaker for the Coast Guard’s annual Flight Safety Officer Symposium.  This annual training brings all field and staff officers who execute the aviation safety program for the Coast Guard – a service whose mission demands safe flight operations in brutal conditions to save lives.  My perspective included having served as the Coast Guard’s Chief of Flight Safety, two assignments as air station “skipper,” senior admiral-level field commands and retiring as Coast Guard Chief of Operations.
  • Lead off Speaker for the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center’s Acquisition Symposium 2022, with remarks titled “The Transformation of the Department of Homeland Security” offering an historic perspective of the two-decade maturation from 22 disparate Federal Agencies merged post 9/11 to form the second largest Federal Department. 
  • Keynote speaker for a Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Workshop on Maritime Security.  Topics included security research planning concerns such as our economy’s dependence on quickly evolving worldwide maritime commerce, cyber’s rapidly expanding role in the maritime (both ashore and afloat), climate change, nation state competition at sea, plus autonomous and subsurface maritime homeland threats.
  • Repeated guest lecturer for Dickinson College’s master-level courses “Managing Complex Disasters” and “Leading Through Crisis.”

Do you have any articles or publications? Have you been featured in any? If so, what were they? 

Unfortunately, none at the moment!

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