Special Support Technologies (SST) is delighted to announce the new additions to our advisory board. Lieutenant General (Ret) Ken Tovo – former commander of the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), Major General (Ret) Buck Elton - former Deputy Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and former J3 of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Colonel (Ret) Mark Mitchell – former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC), SES Johnny Sawyer – former chief of staff at Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Major General (Ret) Todd McCaffrey – former chief of staff at Africa Command.
We are honored and humbled to join hands with our senior advisory board as they help guide us on our path of providing mission-critical technologies to our nation’s warfighters.
Every member of our team has over three decades of government agency or military experience and possesses an unparalleled understanding of the current and future defense, national and homeland security challenges we face and will continue to face in the future.
Lieutenant General (Ret) Ken Tovo
Former Commander, US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)
Ken Tovo is a recognized leader in special operations, strategic planning, and leadership. He is the president of DOL Enterprises, Inc, a consulting firm providing services primarily in the defense and technology sectors.
Over the course of his 35-year career, much of it as a Green Beret, Ken developed and led high performing organizations at varying levels, from a 12-man Special Forces ‘A-team’ to the 34,000-strong Army Special Operations Command. His operational assignments include the first Gulf War; refugee relief operations in Turkey and Northern Iraq; noncombatant evacuation operations in Sierra Leone; peacekeeping operations in Bosnia on two occasions; five tours in Iraq; and one tour in Afghanistan.
He has significant experience in developing organizational culture; managing change and incorporating new ideas and technology; and strategic planning and resourcing. In addition to his consulting work, Ken currently serves on the board of several companies, is the chairman of a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting US Army Green Berets and their families, and is an advisory board member of a nonprofit that supports the educational needs of killed, wounded, or seriously injured servicemembers.
Ken was a distinguished graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point and earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering. He holds a MS in Advanced Military Studies from the US Army Command & General Staff College and a MS in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College; he received the Bristol Military History Writing Award for his War College thesis. Ken and his wife of 36 years, Suzanne, live in Pinehurst, NC. They raised two sons who both serve the Nation – one as a Special Forces officer and the other as a high school English teacher.
Major General (Ret) Buck Elton
Former J3, US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
As a recently retired United States Air Force Major General, Buck brings over 31 years of experience with the Department of Defense, United States Government Agencies and International Partners. He will join our efforts to grow our partnership with United States Special Operations Command, Joint Special Operations Command and the United States Air Force. Previously, Buck served as the Director of Operations at United States Special Operations Command, as the Commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force – Afghanistan, the Deputy Director of Special Operations and Counterterrorism on the Joint Staff, and the Deputy Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command. He is a Command Pilot with 4,300 flying hours in MC-130, C-130 and MQ-1 aircraft. Buck holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle University.
Ret. Air Force Major General Albert “Buck” Elton brings extensive senior leader experience in the United States Special Operations Command and a wealth of knowledge following a distinguished career highlighted as the Commanding General of U.S. and NATO Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan, as well as the Deputy Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command.
Major General Buck Elton retired in October 2020 after 31 years of service. He flew MC-130H, MC-130E and MQ-1s in Air Force Special Operations Command, commanded at the squadron, group, wing and task force levels and was the Commanding General of the Special Operations Joint Task Force in Afghanistan. He also served as the Deputy Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command, the Deputy Director for Special Operations and Counterterrorism on the Joint Staff, and the United States Special Operations Command Director of Operations. Buck and his wife, Karen, live in Medford, Oregon.
Colonel (Ret) Mark Mitchell
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC)
Mark E. Mitchell is a highly decorated U.S. Army combat veteran in the Special Operations community with extensive experience in the Middle East and South Asia. Mitchell was among the first U.S. soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 and advised the Northern Alliance prior to the fall of the Taliban regime. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in the November 2001 Battle of Qala-I Jangi in Mazar-e Sharif.
In 2014, Mitchell served as a Director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council where he was intimately involved in significant hostage cases and recovery efforts in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia. He previously served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as the Senior Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. As a colonel, he commanded 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and simultaneously commanded a nationwide, Joint Special Operations Task Force in Iraq in 2010-2011. Mitchell has planned and conducted counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, and other sensitive special operations.
Mitchell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Marquette University and a Master of Science degree in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also served as a National Security Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
SES Johnny Sawyer
Former Chief of Staff, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
Johnny Sawyer is founder and chief executive officer of The Sawyer Group, a consulting firm focused on partnering with organizations to deliver tailor-made practical defense, intelligence and strategic management solutions.
Following a distinguished 22-year military career as a U.S. Army officer, he joined the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2001 and served in multiple positions of increased responsibility during his 20-year tenure there. In 2009, Mr. Sawyer was elevated to the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service. His senior executive assignments included principal deputy director for analysis; first director, Middle East/Africa Regional Center; chief, Middle East North Africa Office; chief, Defense Resources and Infrastructure Office; and senior expert for enterprise management.
Mr. Sawyer's last assignment at DIA was chief of staff. As the third ranking officer at DIA, he was the Agency's chief operating officer—overseeing a sixteen thousand officers and a multi-billion-dollar budget, and exercising broad responsibilities to ensure continued excellence while simultaneously developing plans, process improvements and strategies to prepare the Agency for future success. He is the recipient of the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Director’s Award. Mr. Sawyer's formal education includes an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology, M.S. from National War College and Master of Military Studies from the U.S. Marine Corps University.
Major General (Ret) Todd McCaffrey
Former Chief of Staff, US Africa Command
Todd McCaffrey is a retired US Army Major General with over 34 years of service culminating as the Chief of Staff, US Africa Command. He commanded at all echelons through division and led both an infantry battalion and Stryker Brigade Combat Team in combat. McCaffrey is an expert on training policy, strategy, and execution and has significant experience supporting security cooperation efforts across multiple theaters.
He was the US Army’s Director of Training and later commanded First Army Division East where he supported US Army Reserve and Army National Guard units and gained a lasting appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our nation’s Citizen-Soldiers. He served as the chief of staff to two 4-Star level commanders and was the Deputy Commander at US Army Pacific where he conducted engagements throughout Southeast Asia. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and holds master’s degrees in economics from the Colorado School of Mines and in national security studies from the US Army War College. Following his military career, he was the University of South Carolina’s Director of Military Affairs where he built strategic partnerships with the Department of Defense and helped to lead the school to being recognized for the first time as one of the nation’s ‘Best for Veterans’ colleges and universities.