United States Air Force Academy

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Major Melissa McLain

Fellow, Institute for Future Conflict &
Instructor of Military & Strategic Studies

Department of Military & Strategic Studies

Major McLain
Contact Information

(719) 333-3248




Major Melissa McLain is currently an Institute for Future Conflict (IFC) Fellow and Military and Strategic Studies (MSS) Instructor at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Major McLain earned her commission through the United States Air Force Academy in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Factors Engineering. She has supported 9th Bomb Squadron, B-1B operations at Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas. Then Major McLain worked at the Blue Horizons Fellowship at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama. In this position she developed wargames to complement the curriculum and conducted classified research for the fellows. She was then charged by the CSAF with standing up an Emerging Technology Office in Washington, D.C. based upon one of the fellow's approved proposals. In her most recent assignment, Major McLain worked as a Squadron Director of Operations for two years, followed by the Group Director of Operations at Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia. In these roles she ensured mission execution of SIGINT missions spanning the globe and designed the 16 AF/CC approved Cryptologic Strategy.


2009 Bachelor of Science, Human Factors Engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

2015 Master of Arts, Global Security Studies, American Military University

2015 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

Current Institute of Future Conflict Fellow (IDE), U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Professional Experience

Major McLain is an intelligence officer. She is an avid critical thinker with the grit and determination to lead teams grappling with DoD's intractable problem sets. She has over 12 years of leadership experience building and leading multi-discipline teams, developing individuals' 'super powers' to deliver outsized impacts. She also has 6 years of experience leading geographically separated teams (ranging from 10 to 100 people per site) to solve complex problems by effective communication, thus delivering decision confidence to customers and options to warfighters. Major McLain has specific expertise in wargaming development, program management, big data tool ontology creation and organizational design.

Honors & Awards

Defense Meritorious Service Medal

Meritorious Service Medal

Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters

Air Force Meritorious Unit Award with three oak leaf clusters

Research and Scholarly Interests

Decision making when teamed with autonomous systems

Mental Models impact on developing 'new' ideas and communication

Solving complex problems

Effective Organizational Design with intentional incentives to drive outcomes

Emotional Intelligence and Intuition Development