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Senior Operations Officer Gary Berntsen

  • Senior Operations Officer Gary
    USAF/CIA, Security Consultant, Apollo Beach, FL


The Combat Veterans For Congress PAC is pleased to announce the appointment of a Combat Veteran to the Board of Directors; he is fiscally conservative, supports our efforts to reduce the national debt, rein in the out of control and irresponsible spending by the Obama Administration, and continues his pledge to protect and defend the US Constitution.  Mr. Gary Berntsen is a US Air Force Veteran and a decorated former Senior Operations Officer in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Clandestine Service; he resides in Apollo Beach, Florida.  Gary is an endorsed Combat Veteran For Congress, and was the endorsed Republican Candidate for the US Senate in New York in 2008.  In June of 1975, Gary graduated from Hauppauge High School in Hauppauge, New York.  In June of 1982, Gary received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  


Gary Berntsen began his career in government by enlisting in the US Air Force in 1976.  Airman Gary Berntsen was a crash Firefighter in the US Air Force and rose to the rank of Sergeant.  He was discharged in 1980 and matriculated at the University of New Mexico on the GI Bill; during his summers he attended USMC Platoon Leaders Course (PLC) at Quantico, VA.  Prior to accepting his US Marine Corps commission, he was recruited by the CIA in 1982 and served in the Clandestine Service for 23 years.   Senior Operations Officer Gary Berntsen is best known for leading CIA Para-Military forces in Eastern Afghanistan along with the North Alliance and seizing Kabul and Talaqan.  Gary Berntsen was the architect of the battle of Tora Bora where significant numbers of Al Qaeda were destroyed and Osama Bin Laden ultimately escaped.  During his CIA career Gary was a CIA Station Chief on three occasions and led many of the most important counterterrorism deployments.  Berntsen was the recipient of the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal in 2000 and the Intelligence Star in 2004.  He retired from the CIA in 2005.


In 2005, Gary Berntsen had the book he wrote published that became the bestselling book “Jawbreaker, The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda” where he recounted his Afghan service.  In 2006 at Intelcon, he was presented with the first William F. Buckley Award for Leadership.  In 2008, Gary authored a novel, “The Walk-In,” about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and published a policy manual for incoming Presidents and White House staff entitled “Human Intelligence, Counterterrorism, and National Leadership: A Practical Guide”.  In 2008 Gary served as the New York State Veterans Coalition Chairman for Senator John McCain’s and Governor Sarah Palin’s Republican Presidential Campaign.  Mr. Berntsen is a frequent National Security Contributor on Fox News, CNN, and other major news outlets.  Gary is a sought after Security Consultant in the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America, and is employed by Concerned Veterans for America in the state of Florida.  


Mr. Berntsen's son, a Captain with the 82nd Airborne, recently completed his second tour of duty in Regional Command South in Afghanistan.  Mr. Berntsen's daughter served as Naval Intelligence Officer on board the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and a tour in the US Naval Facility in Bahrain.  She is now a U.S. Diplomat serving in India, and member of the Department of State's Foreign Service.  The Combat Veterans For Congress PAC is pleased to have former Senior Operations Officer Gary Berntsen, USAF/CIA (Ret), join its Board of Directors and is looking forward to working with him.  The military is one of the few remaining institutions producing the caliber of men and women needed to restore this nation to the greatness our Founding Fathers envisioned.  Gary Berntsen is a Veteran who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America” for an amount “up to and including his life.”