ABOUT MAJGEN ARNOLD PUNARO, USMC, RET.Punaro is CEO of The Punaro Group, a Washington-based firm offering business development, strategic planning, and federal budget and market analysis. A retired Marine Corps Major General, he was previously an executive vice president of SAIC and served as Sen. Sam Nunn’s staff director of the Armed Services Committee. Punaro has been consistently recognized as one of the 100 most influential individuals in U.S. Defense.
Punaro also sits on the Board of Advisors of IronArch Technology, a business providing next generation information technology solutions and business transformation to its customers. IronArch has been named to the Washington Business Journal’s Best Places to Work list for five consecutive years in the small business category.
In October 2020, Gen. Punaro began his second two-year term as the Chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association, the country’s largest defense industry association with over 1,600 corporate and 91,000 individual members. He previously served as NDIA Chairman from 2015-2017. Gen. Punaro is Chairman of the Secretary of Defense Reserve Forces Policy Board, which serves as an independent advisor to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Reserve and National Guard matters. He was first appointed by Secretary Panetta in 2011 and reappointed by Secretaries Hagel, Carter, Mattis, and Esper. He served on the Secretary of Defense Business Board (DBB) as a founding member at its inception in 2002 until 2013. he served on the DBB again from 2015-2020.
From 2005 to 2008, Gen. Punaro was the Chairman of the Independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. He also served as a task force member for the U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Regional Security in 2008, a Commissioner on the Independent Commission on the Iraqi Security Force in 2007, Deputy Executive Director of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century from 1998 to 2001 and chaired the Defense Reform Task Force for Secretary of Defense William Cohen in 1997.
As an executive vice president at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a $10B technology and services company, from 1997 to 2010, Gen. Punaro served as a sector manager, deputy president of the Federal Business Segment, and led SAIC’s Corporate Business Development organization. He was the senior corporate official responsible for SAIC’s government affairs, worldwide communications and support operations, to include crisis and risk management, as well as general manager of their Washington operations and supervisor of SAIC’s corporate Small and Disadvantaged Business office.
From 1973 to 1997, Gen. Punaro worked for Senator Sam Nunn in national security matters. He served as his director of National Security Affairs and then as Staff Director of the Senate Armed Services Committee (eight years) and Staff Director for the Minority (five years). In his work with Senator Nunn and the Senate Armed Services Committee, he was involved in the formulation of all major defense and intelligence legislation, the oversight and review of all policy and programs, and civilian and military nominations. His work includes the landmark Goldwater-Nichols Act, the Packard Commission Acquisition Reforms, and the creation of the Special Operations Command.
A retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General, Gen. Punaro served as the Director of the Marine Corps Reserve, Deputy Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command (Mobilization), and for three years as the Commanding General of the 4th Marine Division. Other assignments were Commanding General, Marine Corps Mobilization Command, and Deputy Commander, Marine Forces Reserve. In December 1990, he was mobilized for Operation Desert Shield. In December 1993, he completed a tour of active duty as Commander of Joint Task Force Provide Promise (Forward) in the former Yugoslavia. He was mobilized for a third time in May 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served on active duty as an Infantry Platoon Commander in Vietnam where he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart.
Gen. Punaro is on the Board of Advisors for the Center for a New American Security, Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and for the Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. He serves on the non-profit boards of the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs and the Georgia Institute of Technology Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.
Gen. Punaro is the recipient of numerous recognitions including the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award – the Department’s highest award, and two Secretary of Defense Medals for Exceptional Public Service. He received the Marine Corps League’s “Iron Mike Award” in 1993 for “exceptionally outstanding service” and “unwavering commitment” for over 20 years to “ensuring a strong national defense.” He has received the Air Force Association’s “Exceptional Service Award,” the National Guard “Minuteman Award,” the Army’s “Outstanding Civilian Service Medal,” the Reserve Officers Association’s “Minuteman of the Year Award” and was the recipient of the SAIC’s “Founders Award” and two special CEO awards. He has over 20 military awards and decorations to include the Distinguished Service Medal as well as numerous civic awards.
Gen. Punaro holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Georgia and a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University, the latter in national security studies. He served on the Adjunct Faculty of the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University for ten years where he taught an annual graduate level course entitled “National Security Decision Making.”
Punaro is the author of On War and Politics: The Battlefield Inside Washington’s Beltway that was published by the Naval Institute Press in October 2016.
Major General Arnold L. Punaro, USMC, Ret. discusses his experience being a rifleman in the military and his time in congress.