Security Studies Graduate Takes Position Advising Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

U.S. Army Colonel Joseph Funderburke, Ph.D. ’19, has stepped into a new advisory role as Special Assistant to the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley — the highest-ranking military officer in the Department of Defense and principal military advisor to the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense.

“You’d never guess it, but the chairman is very human behind closed doors,” said Funderburke. “We’re all very human. We laugh, we speak frankly and we make decisions based on the national security of the United States.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sit within the Department of Defense function as a conduit of information and assistance to civilian authorities in the United States. Funderburke serves as part of this advisory council to Milley, and provides input on military conflict and strategy.  From speech writing to informing major military decisions, Funderburke’s day-to-day tasks always vary.

“It’s a humbling experience to serve on the Joint Staff as a special assistant to the Chairman,” said Funderburke. “I have the responsibility of making sure he’s informed in his decisions. His success is my success is the American people’s success. Ensuring that he makes the right choices strengthens the fibers of our national security system.”

In 2013, Funderburke began pursuing his degree in Security Studies after a program supporting the education of military officers was created by the Army’s Chief of Staff. Funderburke, already having served over 20 years in the military, felt drawn towards the opportunity.

“Pursuing my degree at the University of Central Florida ended up being the best decision,” said Funderburke. “The education at this institution provided me with the intellectual and critical thinking skills needed to successfully do my job today.”

Funderburke’s military experience, in combination with his education, has given him the necessary knowledge to advise some of the world’s most powerful officials.

“I’m in weekly meetings with people like the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman himself,” said Funderburke. “I am very honored to be in this role where I’m trusted to represent and inform our country’s leaders.”




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