Colonel Gatanas was a U.S. Army Infantry officer and Foreign Area specialist in the Middle East. He served from 1960-1986 and retired with the rank of Colonel. Colonel Gatanas held the full range of command, staff, and diplomatic assignments, leading and managing various military organizations of up to 2500 personnel.
His 26 years’ service included three combat tours in Vietnam and the Middle East, positions at the Pentagon, Department of State, Assistant and Military Advisor to President Reagan’s Representative for the Middle East (in turn, Ambassadors Phil Habib, “Bud” McFarlane, and Don Rumsfeld) and President Reagan’s Special Negotiator for Middle East Peace. Initially, he was Assistant and Military Advisor to Ambassador Phil Habib and in their 1982/83 missions were instrumental in arranging for the departure of over 23,000 PLO fighters from Lebanon.
Colonel Gatanas stayed in the same role with “Bud” McFarlane (then Deputy National Security Advisor) when McFarlane replaced Ambassador Habib. In this role, he assisted in achieving a truce in Lebanon in 1983, after a period of extreme turmoil and civil war, involving many Lebanese factions, the Syrians, Israelis, Hezbollah, PLO, and Druze. Prior to the truce, the situation had become so dire, that for a time, Colonel Gatanas was asked to forgo his negotiating duties and became the advisor to the only viable Lebanese Brigade then fighting in intense combat to keep the Government of Lebanon alive. In the written words of Bud McFarlane, “Colonel Gatanas saved Lebanon from collapse.” When McFarlane was promoted to National Security Advisor, he was replaced by Don Rumsfeld but Colonel Gatanas’s injury in the fighting in Lebanon allowed him to serve only briefly in the same position under Rumsfeld.
Colonel Gatanas’s extensive combat experience and decorations include the Silver Star for gallantry in action in Vietnam during which his rifle company in the First Cavalry Division (AM) was surrounded for twenty-four hours by a combined Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army force of over twelve times its size; the Bronze Star for heroism in combat with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and other U.S. and foreign awards.
After retiring from the U.S. Army, Colonel Gatanas has been working in Information Technology and Information Systems Management, as senior officer in large corporations (EDS and CACI) with billions of dollars of revenue; and as President and CEO of VizorNet, Inc., Impact Management Armor Systems (IMAS), and Impowerment, LLC. He has also served as director on the boards of several information technology companies.
He is a graduate of the City College of NY with a Bachelor of Science and is a graduate of NC State University with a Masters of Public Affairs. His professional education also includes a variety of U.S. Government formal education and training, including: diplomatic; language (Hebrew); Foreign Area Specialist training and Middle East studies and travel. He is a graduate of the U.S. National War College and the Army’s Command and Staff College; and other formal courses and military training. He has published in professional journals and is mentioned in several books.