With combat operations, covert action, clandestine intelligence missions, diplomatic assignments, Rick Francona brings over twenty-five years of political-military experience in the Middle East to his analysis of the challenges for American foreign policy in this volatile yet critical region.
A dynamic speaker, author of Ally to Adversary - An Eyewitness Account of Iraq's Fall from Grace, retired USAF intelligence officer and Middle East specialist Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona provides analysis and commentary on various Middle East topics.
Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona is a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, a veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, and service in the Balkans. His assignments include the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency, with tours of duty in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, and operational duties in virtually every country in the Middle East.
During the last year of the Iran–Iraq war in 1988, Rick was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as a liaison officer to the Iraqi armed forces intelligence service, where he observed field operations of the Iraqi Army. Throughout the first Gulf War he served as the personal Arabic interpreter and advisor on Iraq to General Norman Schwarzkopf and later co-authored the report to Congress on the conduct of the war.
Following the Gulf War, Rick served as the first air attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria until 1995. In 1995 and 1996, Rick served in northern Iraq with the Central Intelligence Agency, where he narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by Iraqi agents. During that tour, he was involved in the extraction of an Iraqi nuclear scientist's family from Baghdad.
In 1997 and 1998, he served in the Department of Defense counter terrorism branch and led a special operations team in Bosnia that captured five indicted war criminals. That hunt is the topic of Rick's latest book, Chasing Demons - My Hunt for War Criminals in Bosnia.
From 2003 to 2007, Rick was an on-air military analyst for NBC News, appearing on NBC News, Today, CNBC and MSNBC. From 2013 to 2019, he was a military analyst for CNN. He currently conducts seminars and workshops for a variety of government and commercial organizations.