Jim Steele is an expert in the areas of security and counterterrorism. He has worked extensively in some of the most dangerous places on the planet, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mexico and West Africa. His insights into unconventional warfare, insurgencies, counterterrorism and law enforcement are based on extensive personal experience.
In May 2013, Jim returned from Liberia, West Africa, where he was engaged in a commercial venture as the CEO of an energy company. Prior to that he worked in Afghanistan and the FATA region of Pakistan as a consultant to the US Government. Until 2008, Jim was also the president of J&D International, a security firm based in Houston, Texas. In that capacity, he assisted police forces in Mexico in dealing with the mounting danger presented by drug cartels. The SWAT team he trained made what was reported to be the largest drug bust by any state police entity in Mexican history at the time. The same team was highly successful against a Zeta force in the Mexican state of Sonora.
Jim returned from Iraq in January 2006, having served nearly three years there. From May 2003 until assuming the position of senior counselor to Ambassador Bremer for Iraqi security forces in November 2003, Jim Steele was the senior police advisor with the Iraqi police SWAT unit in Baghdad. He headed the advisory team that organized, trained and operated with this special unit. He personally led the unit on a series of highly successful operations that netted former high-ranking members of the Saddam regime as well as numerous other criminal and terrorist elements. During one such operation, despite intense fire, Jim Steele and his team successful overpowered the terrorists and rescued two hostages that had been kidnapped, brutally beaten and tortured by their captors. In March 2004, he participated in the raid that resulted in the capture of Saddam’s former Minister of Interior, General Mohammed Zimam Abdul Al-Razzaq, the four of spades with a bounty of one million dollars on his head. In April 2004, prior to the Marine offensive in Fallujah, Jim Steele led a small group of Iraqi police and U.S. advisors on an undercover operation into the city to recover the remains of the Blackwater contractors that had been ambushed and killed there, determine exactly what had occurred and assess the enemy situation. Because of an increasing threat throughout the country, Jim Steele also assumed responsibility for the security of Iraq’s most senior government officials, the members of the Governing Council. In the execution of this mission, he organized and supervised the training and equipping of over 300 members of the personal security details for members of the Governing Council and key ministries. The success of this mission was repeatedly demonstrated by the superb performance of these protective security details under fire. In November 2004, the Iraqi commando unit that he was advising came under attack by a large insurgent force in Mosul. Jim Steele’s actions during the battle were instrumental in defeating the enemy and saving the lives of both Iraqi commandos and U.S. soldiers. For his heroic actions, he was awarded the Special Forces Gold Medal by the Government of Iraq. During the Iraqi elections in January 2005, the Iraqi commandos with which Jim Steele was operating were a key force in protecting the polling sites in Baghdad and pivotal in the overall success of the election process.
His efforts in Iraq received substantial press coverage and favorable mention in Congressional testimony. During hearings by the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, the Deputy Secretary of Defense described Jim Steele as having “incredible bravery and also incredible expertise about police forces in third world countries.” He characterized his work with the Iraqi police as “heroic.” In December 2004, Secretary Rumsfeld presented Jim the Department of Defense Medal of Valor for his actions under fire and the Distinguished Public Service Medal for his extraordinary service in Iraq. In a recent article in The New York Times Magazine, he was described as “one of the United States military’s top experts on counterinsurgency.”
Prior to April 2003, Jim Steele was the president and CEO of TM Power Ventures, an independent power company with operating power plants in North America and Europe. He also served as chairman of the board of Commonwealth Chesapeake Company, which built the largest power plant on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He was also the chairman of the advisory board of RPM, an international security company headquartered in Pinehurst, Texas.
Jim Steele retired from the U.S. Army after 24 years of distinguished service. He was consistently promoted ahead of his peers culminating in his selection for promotion to brigadier general, the youngest officer of his branch to be selected at that time. His promotion was pending Senate confirmation at the time he left the Army to join the private sector. Jim Steele served briefly as a vice president in Enron Power Corp. and later as a managing director in Enron Development Corp. In early 1995, he was asked by Texas oilman and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Robert Mosbacher, to join the Mosbacher family of companies and form a new independent power company. In May 1995, Jim Steele became President and CEO of Mosbacher Power Group. In 1998, he also became President and CEO of TM Power Ventures, a joint venture between TECO Power Services and Mosbacher Power Group.
During his military career, Jim served in a series of leadership positions ranging from a recon platoon leader in Vietnam to the deputy commander of U.S. Army South. His regimental commander in Vietnam, General George Patton Jr., described Jim Steele as the best small unit combat leader he had witnessed during two wars. In November, 1968, Jim’s small recon patrol came under fire from a large North Vietnamese force. During the ensuing battle, Jim was shot twice attempting to aid a fallen comrade. After being evacuated to Japan to recover, Jim Steele returned to Vietnam to command another recon unit in combat. As a colonel, he commanded the U.S. Military Group in El Salvador during the height of the guerrilla war. In addition to administering one of the largest US military assistance programs in the world, Jim Steele was credited with training and equipping what was acknowledged to be the best counter-terrorist force in the region. He was instrumental in the rapid response and negotiations that resulted in the safe return of President Duarte’s daughter after she was kidnapped by FMLN guerillas. Upon his departure, the Salvadoran Government awarded Jim Steele the Gold Medal of El Salvador for his extraordinary service. During the Cold War, he also commanded the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment stationed along the Czech and East-West German borders. During “Operation Just Cause” in Panama, with operational control of U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Navy SEALs, military police and civilian police advisors, Jim Steele was the primary military interface with the new government and responsible for establishing a new professional police force. During an attempted coup in 1990, rebels comprised of former members of Noriega’s military attempted to take him and his small team of advisors hostage. After an all-night standoff, Jim Steele led the force that thwarted the coup and captured the rebels. For his exceptional efforts, President Endara awarded him the nation’s highest award granted to a foreigner, the Order of Vasco Nunez de Balboa.
Jim’s military decorations include the Silver Star, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, four Legions of Merit, three Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and various other service and campaign medals. Jim Steele earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist Badge, as well as the Salvadoran Parachutist Badge, Special Operations Badge and Aviator Wings. In addition, he is a commercial pilot with helicopter, multi-engine and jet aircraft ratings. He is a martial arts expert with a Black Belt in the Korean art of Hopkido.
Jim Steele earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Dayton and a Masters degree in International Affairs from the University of Florida. He is a graduate of the Army and Naval War Colleges, and the Defense Language Institute. He is certified in law enforcement operations by the International Institute for Counterterrorism Studies and is a Charter Member of the International Society of Counterterrorists. He speaks Spanish, conversational German and limited Arabic.