General Wayne A. Downing served in a variety of command assignments in infantry, armored, special operations, and joint units, culminating in his appointment as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He served two combat tours in Vietnam as a junior infantry officer with the 173d Airborne Brigade.
As a general officer, Wayne Downing commanded the special operations of all services during the 1989 invasion of Panama and commanded a joint special operations task force operating deep behind the Iraqi lines during Operation DESERT STORM. Following retirement, General Wayne Downing was appointed by the President to assess the 1996 terrorist attack on the U.S. base at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and to make recommendations on how to protect Americans and U.S. facilities worldwide from terrorist attack.
From 1999-2000, General Wayne Downing was a member of the Congressionally mandated National Commission on Terrorism (the Bremer Commission) charged with examining the terrorist threat to the US, evaluating America's laws, policies, and practices for preventing and punishing terrorism directed at US citizens, and recommending corrective actions.
General Wayne Downing most recently served in the White House as National Director and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism. As the President's principal advisor on matters related to combating terrorism, he was responsible for the close coordination among the military, diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, information, and financial operations of our war on terror, and for developing and executing a strategy that integrated all elements of national power.
General Wayne Downing is the Chairman of the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The Center seeks to better understand foreign and domestic terrorism threats, to educate future leaders, and to provide political analysis and advice to counter future terrorist activities. He serves on two boards in the private sector and has served on three government advisory panels. General Downing is a visiting faculty member at the University of Michigan Business School conducting seminars on leadership and transformation management.
His awards include twelve decorations for valor on the battlefield and the Purple Heart. General Wayne Downing has earned the Combat Infantryman's Badge. He is a Military Free Fall Jumpmaster, a Master Parachutist, and an Army Ranger. General Downing is a Commander in the French Legion of Honor.
General Downing has a B.S. degree from the U.S. Military Academy and a Masters degree in Business Administration from Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.