Lt Col Rick Francona, USAF (Ret)



Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona is a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, a veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, and service in the Balkans. His assignments include the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency, with tours of duty in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, and operational duties in virtually every country in the Middle East.

During the last year of the Iran–Iraq war in 1988, Rick was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as a liaison officer to the Iraqi armed forces intelligence service, where he served in the field with the Iraqi army and flew observation sorties with the Iraqi Air Force.

Throughout the first Gulf War he served as the personal Arabic interpreter and advisor on Iraq to General Norman Schwarzkopf and later co-authored the report to Congress on the conduct of the war. He is the author of book, Ally to Adversary – An Eyewitness Account of Iraq’s Fall from Grace.

Following the Gulf War, Rick served as the first air attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria until 1995. In 1995 and 1996, Rick served in northern Iraq with the Central Intelligence Agency, where he narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by Iraqi agents.

In 1997 and 1998, he served in the Department of Defense counter terrorism branch and led a special operations team in Bosnia that captured five indicted war criminals. That hunt is the topic of Rick's latest book, Chasing Demons - My Hunt for War Criminals in Bosnia.

From 2003 through 2008, Rick was a military analyst for NBC News, and since 2013, a military analyst for CNN. In 2006, Rick was inducted into the Defense Language Institute Hall of Fame.