Conference Chair
Dr. Phyllis Mihalas, U.S. Army (Retired)
LEXA Global, LLC

Phyllis Mihalas’ military career started in 1979 when she enlisted as a U.S. Army Reservist. In 1980 she earned a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and by 1982, was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in Civil Affairs. Her active duty started as a Psychological Operations officer with the 5th Psychological Operations Group, transferring to the Military Intelligence community as a Counterintelligence Officer. In 1988 she was selected for Command of the HHC, 5th PSYOP Group, followed by Command of the 3rd Psychological Operations Company (Tactical Support), as the first female to hold the position which was designated male only. From there she mobilized to serve in the U.S. Department of Defense, Army Operations Center in support of Operation Desert Storm as the only Civil Affairs/Psychological Operations officer. Her deployment to Oman was followed by various staff positions in the Pentagon where she directly supported then-Chairman Joint Chief of Staff, General Colin Powell.

Beginning her involvement with the United Nations, Phyllis was selected to Command the U.S. Military Observers for the UN Mission in Ethiopia & Eritrea (UNMEE), in addition to serving as the G5/CIMIC Officer. As the G5/CIMIC Officer for UNMEE, then-Lieutenant Colonel Mihalas was responsible for the CIMIC projects and disaster relief throughout the Temporary Security Zone and the oversight of international officers assigned to the G5. In 2006 she was selected to create the Ethiopian Command Defence Staff College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for which she created the curriculum and was the first American instructor. She retired from active US Army service in 2007 after 28 years on active duty.

As a senior civilian for the U.S. Navy, Dr. Mihalas served as the Navy’s Maritime Civil Affairs subject matter expert and worked closely with Allied Command Transformation/NATO in the development of NATO’s Maritime CIMIC. In 2014 the U.S. Navy dis-established and discontinued the Maritime Civil Affairs capability. Understanding the void of the Navy’s decision, in 2015 Dr. Mihalas started LEXA Global, LLC to continue consultation and expertise to NATO and continue her support of CIMIC in Peace Operations which continues to this day. In 2020, Dr. Mihalas earned an Executive Masters in International Affairs from Seton Hall University. She continues to pursue work in support of the United Nations and other peace operations initiatives.
Chris Reynolds
Head of Mission
EUCAP Somalia

Chris Reynolds’s maritime career started in the Irish Navy in 1979 as an Executive (Deck) Officer. He qualified as a Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Officer with the Royal Navy and as a Bomb Disposal Officer by the Irish Army. He was Gunnery Officer on board LE Aisling, the On-Scene Coordinator at the first terrorist bombing of a jet, the Air India bombing, and Humanitarian Convoy Commander first into the Qana massacre in 1995 during his years’ service with the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon.

Chris left the Navy in 1997 to join the newly formed Irish Coast Guard as an Operations Officer. During the next 10 years, he acted as On-Scene Manager for most of the serious incidents on Ireland’s coast for both rescue and ship casualty response. He was appointed Director of the Coast Guard in August 2007 at the age of 46. Chris was Chair of the European Heads of the Coast Guards Forum in 2011/2 and wrote the first doctrine on Coast Guard Functions, which now have international legal status, was Chair of the North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum in 2017 and Chair of the Bonn Agreement in 2018. As Director of the Coast Guard Chris is a member of the Board of the Irish Maritime Administration.

In 2016/17, he served as Head of Operations for the EU’s maritime Security Capacity Building Mission in Somalia. Chris returned to Somalia as the EUCAP Deputy Head of Mission and Chief of Staff in January 2019 and became Head of Mission in September 2019. Chris as seconded still retains the position of Director of the Irish Coast Guard.

Keynote Speakers
Maj Gen Abdul Khalifa Ibrahim
Force Commander
Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF)

Major General Abdul Khalifah Ibrahim, born 18 March 1968 in Kaduna State, Nigeria, hails from Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State. His interest in taking up a military career was influenced by his father who served in the military and was a veteran of World War II (Buma Campaign) and the Nigeria Civil War before being retired. General Ibrahim gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna in September 1987 as a member of the 39 Regular Course. He was commissioned into the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1992 in the Infantry Corps.

Major General Ibrahim holds a Bachelor of Science Honours (History) from the NDA and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan. Until his appointment as the MNJTF Force Commander, he had held numerous instructional, staff and command appointments. He was Platoon Commander, Intelligence Officer, Adjutant and Operations Officer at NIBATT 17 Economic Community Monitoring Group (222 Bn) and NIBATT 12 UNMIL (11 Field Engineer Regiment). He also served at the United Nation Missions in South Sudan and Liberia as a Military Observer Team Leader and Deputy Sector Commander at the NIGCON Liberia.

General AK Ibrahim participated in several operations both within and outside Nigeria, some of which include the Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia, UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). Others within Nigeria are Operation HARMONY in Bakassi Peninsular, Operation RESTORE HOPE in the Niger Delta area, Operation YAKI in Kaduna and Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the Northeast part of the country. He is a recipient of numerous honours and awards amongst which are the Distinguished Service Star, Fellow Defence College, Field Command Medal of Honour and Operation LAFIYA DOLE medal amongst others.