For Missouri Military Academy alumnus Lawrence Walter “Kwakou” Casselle ’93, serving his country has been his life’s calling. Starting his career as an Army infantry officer, Casselle has risen to work some of the nation’s highest-profile security assignments over the past two decades. Among the highlights? Serving on the protective detail for then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2006 to 2008 and his current position as Director of Counterterrorism on the National Security Council staff at The White House.
Casselle’s journey began in the fall of 1990, when his mother and aunt made the decision to send him away from his hometown of Las Vegas to Missouri Military Academy, with the hopes that he would obtain discipline and purpose at MMA. Though he recalls his first year as extremely challenging, he began to really thrive his second year, under the guidance and direction of MMA faculty and staff.
As a cadet, Casselle rose to the rank of Captain and was selected to be Delta Company Commander and Battalion S-4 his senior year. Casselle was passionate about sports and was a captain of the Varsity track team and played on the football and basketball teams. He also realized he had a knack for spelling, winning the school spelling competition both his junior and senior years. He was also was an active member of the Dramateers, which gave him confidence in public speaking. Looking back, Casselle says he is grateful for all that MMA instilled in him during his formative years. He hopes current MMA cadets take advantage of the world-class education and leadership training that MMA provides.
Casselle as a senior MMA cadet.
“I would tell MMA cadets to learn those leadership lessons at MMA — in the academic classrooms, on the athletic fields and with your peers in the barracks,” Casselle advises. “MMA is not easy, but neither is life. Take those challenges head-on and persevere!”
Casselle was awarded a 4-year Army ROTC scholarship during his senior year at MMA and chose to attend Hampton University, a Historically Black University in Virginia, where he was commissioned as an Army infantry officer in 1998. Casselle went on to serve as a mechanized-infantry platoon leader, company executive officer and task force logistics officer in the 1st Calvary Division.
Casselle transitioned from the Army to the State Department’s Foreign Service, where he became a special agent with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in 2003. As a DSS agent, Casselle served in the New York Field Office where he conducted criminal investigations and was the lead site agent at the United Nations.
Casselle also served in Washington D.C. where he was a watch officer in the State Department’s 24/7 Operations Center, the global information hub for the Department.
Casselle then spent the majority of the next 3 years traveling across the world, coordinating protection and providing close-protection for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Casselle states: “the constant international travel was brutal on my body and hard on my family, but getting to see over 70 countries with such a dynamic team was infinitely rewarding.”
Casselle with Secretary Rice in a blackhawk helicopter in Baghdad, Iraq.
Casselle has also served overseas at U.S. Embassies in the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Belize and Iraq. He has represented the United States as both a diplomat and a federal law enforcement professional, working closely with host-nation law enforcement entities and managing security programs to keep U.S. Embassies safe overseas. Among his highlights are working with the Belize Special Branch police to coordinate the capture and return of 40 international fugitives who were hiding in Belize. Casselle was also selected to serve briefly as the Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy.
In 2015, Casselle was elected to the Governing Board of the American Foreign Service Association, where he represented the U.S. Foreign Service’s interests to Congress and the American public.
Casselle in The White House.
Most recently, Casselle served as the senior DSS liaison to the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) and the Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR) in Iraq.
Casselle meets with a senior Iraqi security forces general in November 2019.
Casselle currently serves as Director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council staff, in the Executive Office of the President at The White House. In this role, he is responsible for the global-threats portfolio.
MMA is proud to count Casselle among our noteworthy alumni.