Student Spotlight: Johnny Brandes


Henley-Putnam doctoral student Johnny Brandes shares his passion and his perspective on the value of online learning.

Johnny is a Major in the United States Air Force stationed at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. He is currently the Chief, Analysis and Innovation Division, at the Standoff Munitions Application Center (SMAC), Joint-Global Strike Operations Center (J-GSOC), Air Forces Strategic (AFSTRAT).  SMAC is responsible for planning all USAF standoff munitions consisting of AGM-158 JASSM, ADM-160 MALD, and future long-range fires. Additionally, it integrates AF cruise missile plans with maritime and land based long-range fires, and non-kinetic fires.


Why did you choose Henley Putnam, and what has your online education experience been like?

I chose Henley-Putnam because I am attending through a program with the Air Force Institute of Technology, School of Strategic Force Studies that partners with civilian institutions with funding by Air Force Global Strike Command.

I actually finished my Master’s online, while deployed to Iraq in 2016. Having completed my Master’s previously online, it was a no brainer to work on my doctorate H-P.  I’ve really enjoyed online classes, especially at the Master’s and Doctoral level. The online flexibility H-P provides is paramount in the modern era. In a traditional classroom it would be difficult to maintain progress in a timely manner when having to work full time and manage family in conjunction with military service.

The experience studying and working with the faculty at Henley-Putnam have been great, and I’ve had positive interactions with faculty, even with the challenge of relationship building in online classes compared to traditional classes.

In class we analyze real world events from a historical point of view and bring a different perspective to these problems. This gave me the opportunity to do deep dive and write and present a paper about something I do every day, that’s a hot topic right now.

The paper I wrote and presented is called: Integration of Long-Range Multi-Domain Fires, and advocates for the integrating U.S. and allied long-range fires across all domains. The problem is long-range fires including cyber and other non-kinetic effects are not fully integrated, and remain heavily stovepiped, but these stovepipes are breaking down. Additionally, the treatment of SOW (Standoff Weapons) as just long-range bombs instead of special weapons. The question I worked to answer is: Does the integration of long-range multi-domain fires enable a more optimal method of attack against widely dispersed targets in an A2/AD environment? The first major statement of the paper is defining what a standoff weapon is, and I defined them as: theater level weapons systems, tactical – operational – strategic fires, ranges between 100 to 5,000 NM. The paper begins by providing a general analysis of the Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) threat posed by Russia and China. The paper looked at their ranges and basic capabilities that prove the threat posed by our adversaries as outlined in the National Defense Strategy. I then examine US and NATO kinetic long-range fires and US strategies of Air-Land Battle, Air-Sea Battle, and Multi-Domain Operations. Lastly, I come to the conclusion that integrating long-range multi-domain fires is a critical enabler for US operations and gives us an advantage over our adversaries and help enable their defeat. This paper is a hot topic because we are in the infancy of figuring out how to integrate fires from all domains, not just services or operationally, but integrating down to the individual cruise missile and non-kinetic effect.


Would you recommend Henley-Putnam to students like yourself?

I would recommend Henley-Putnam to others who are interested in national security and intelligence, or in those career fields. The focus and learning in the Doctorate of Strategic Security program has been highly beneficial to what I am doing in my career. The ability to tailor a lot of the work I have done to issues that are relevant to me and what I do, or even use my experiences with almost 13 years in the military to my education has been great. I especially appreciate having the opportunity to share some of my works with my colleagues and to present my paper at a conference was great, as I plan to get my paper ready for an attempt at publication.


About Henley Putnam

NAU’s Henley-Putnam School of Strategic security offers certificates, Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Strategic Security and Protection Management, Homeland Security, Cybersecurity, Nuclear Studies, and Foreign Languages. Which is right for you? Read more about H-P specialized programs in our blog.


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