Bill Cowan: Terrorism and homeland security expert in the Piedmont

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SURRY COUNTY, N.C. -- Bill Cowan doesn’t want to slow down. When I spoke with him a few days ago, he was already planning another trip to two of the world’s most troubled and volatile countries: Libya and Somalia. He still has friends in both regions working to resolve problems. And he feels he can still help.

Cowan, after all, is an internationally-recognized authority in several areas: terrorism, homeland security, intelligence and military special operations. That reputation flows out of an impressive resume: three tours of duty in Vietnam as a United States Marine, a Silver Star for valor in combat, military intelligence officer, hostage rescuer and a lot of other things so classified he can’t talk about.

“You know, I’ve been wounded a number of times. I’ve jailed a bunch of people. I’ve captured people, interrogated people,” he told me. “I’ve done all the things many of the young men and women who’ve served in the military have done.”

Today, his home base is on a farm in rural Surry County. He moved here several years ago because this is where his wife called home.

If his face looks and voice sounds familiar, there’s a reason. He’s the outspoken, tough, not-hesitant-to-step-on-toes commentator on the Fox News Channel. You’ll see him there often speaking on the topics I mentioned above. Recently, he and his wife graciously welcomed me into their home and we discussed many of today’s “hot” topics.

Here’s his take on some of them:

Whether we in the Piedmont Triad should feel safe

“I think we should feel very safe here because we’re not a high profile place, the names of which resonate around the world. New York means something. Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, all those names are well-understood around the world. But around the world, nobody’s heard of Winston-Salem or Greensboro or Mt. Airy.”

What it’s going to take to defeat ISIS/Islamic militants

“I think it’s going to take all the nations in that region to a lesser extend the United States, except for air power, but we have to coalesce the people over there to fight against them.”

“We don’t have enough bombs and bullets in the United States of America to defeat Radical Islam. We could be killing people every day and we’d never achieve it.”

On deploying American ground troops to fight ISIS

“I don’t want to see any more American casualties. But we do have a role as Americans. That is air power. We sometimes need people on the ground to facilitate the dropping of bombs accurately on the right targets. So I see a small role, but nothing more.”

On the potential of another terrorist attack in United States

“If I was their (the enemy) planning guy right now, I would already have 10 surface-to-air missiles, shoulder fired missiles here in the United States. You don’t have to hit an airplane to have an impact. Sometimes when those missiles hit big commercial aircraft, they don’t bring them down. But just fire them. That day commercial aviation as we know it in the United States will cease.”

The biggest long-term threat to the United States

“The biggest long-term threat in my judgment is China. The Chinese would like to push us off our perch. We’ll no longer be the number one power in the world. We will lose a lot of our economic interests. We’ll lose a lot of our accessibility to raw materials.”


“Russa’s threat is in the context right now because Putin’s not going to slow down. He’s going to try to achieve his objectives. But I think when people talk, when knowledgeable people talk about him wanting to re-create the Soviet Empire as much as he can, I think there’s some validity to that. And ultimately, he’ll push to the point that we, the west, including all our European allies, may have to stand up and do something.”

Here are Cowan’s opinions/analysis on some other major topics making news around the world:



Israel and the Palestinians