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Commander Hesham H. Islam, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Special Assistant for International Affairs
Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense

Service:  US Navy
Career:  1985 - 2005
Status:    Retired
Billet:     Surface Warfare Officer (SWO)

Hesham Islam serves as Special Assistant for International Affairs to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Gordon England, at the Pentagon, Washington, DC.  A retired U.S. Navy Commander (1985-2005), he was born in Cairo, Egypt and raised in Alexandria, Egypt. As a teenager he moved with his parents to Iraq where lived for seven years. There he completed high school, and graduated from the Arabian Gulf Academy in Basra, Iraq, with a B.S. in Maritime Studies. 

He immigrated to the United States in 1980 and joined the United States Navy in January 1985 as an Electronics Technician in the Navy’s submarine force at Groton, CT.   In 1987, he graduated from Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI and commissioned an Ensign.  

Mr. Islam earned his Surface Warfare Officer designation during his initial sea duty tour in USS SYLVANIA (AFS-2) with the ship’s engineering department.   Subsequent sea duty tours were in engineering, operations and combat systems posts aboard USS YARNELL (CG-17), USS ARTHUR W. RADFORD (DD 968), the staff of Commander Carrier Group Two (CG-2) aboard the aircraft carrier USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67), and later as Executive Officer of USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG 58).     

During his years at sea he has made numerous deployments to Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Arabian Gulf and the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.   Shore assignments included duty at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, where he earned a Masters Degree in National Security Affairs, with a special emphasis on Middle Eastern Studies and on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy in the Pentagon.  

Fluent in Arabic, Mr. Islam’s joined the staff of the Deputy Secretary of Defense in 2005 and is responsible for international engagement and the coordination of various policy issues for the Deputy Secretary. 

Personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy Achievement Medal (four awards) and various service and campaign medals. He has two children, Rami and Amir.  Following in his father’s footsteps, Rami Islam was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy in July 2005 carrying on a five-generation family tradition of naval service.  

Mr. Islam has lectured at the United States Naval Academy and other universities.  He has also appeared on radio and TV networks including BBC, Al Jazeera, ABC, ART-Network and others.






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