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Damien O’Connell is a military historian, world-recognized facilitator and developer of decision games, and the owner and Senior Consultant of DAO Consulting. Since May 2020, he’s also served as a Non-Resident Fellow with Marine Corps University’s Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare. 

From 2012-2016, Damien led the efforts of Marine Corps University’s Case Method Project to institutionalize the case method at The Basic School (TBS), the Marine Corps’ school for newly commissioned and appointed officers. His duties at TBS included developing decision-forcing cases (DFCs), facilitating DFCs for students and staff, and conducting workshops for students and staff on DFC development and facilitation. Damien also served as the project’s lead for all work with the Infantry Officer Course, the Schools of Infantry, and Fleet Marine Force.

From 2017 to 2021, Damien worked as a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Cognitive Performance Group. As his primary role, he co-facilitated and later led the Innovative Instruction Workshop, a highly sought workshop sponsored by the Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command (TECOM). He was a founding member of the facilitator team, took part in each of the program’s 34 workshops, and worked with educators from every corner of TECOM.

In his current position at DAO Consulting, Damien has successfully facilitated educational events and workshops for TBS, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion-East (USMC); 8th Engineer Support Battalion (USMC); 1st Battalion, Second Marine Regiment; 1st Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment; Second Battalion, Eleventh Marine Regiment; Combat Logistics Battalion 15 (USMC); Amphibious Raids Branch, Expeditionary Operations Training Group, (I MEF), (USMC); Recruiting Station New York (USMC); Naval Service Training Command; George Washington University's NROTC Capitol Battalion, the Baltic Defence College, and the Latvian Training and Doctrine Command.

Over the course of his career, Damien has had the privilege of presenting or teaching multiple times at the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, the Swedish Defence University, the Finnish National Defence University, the Estonian National Defence College, the Baltic Defense College, the US Naval Academy, the FBI National Academy, and elsewhere. He has also facilitated workshops for Avion Express, Microsoft, and the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

To stay abreast of developments in academic military history and educational wargaming, Damien has attended and presented at both the Society for Military History’s Annual Conference and the wargaming conference Connections USA.


In his spare time, he hosts Controversy and Clarity, a podcast of the Warfighting Society, an organization he founded and helps run.

Damien earned a Bachelor of History (summa cum laude) and certificate in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona in 2009.

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In October 2017, Damien founded The Warfighting Society, an organization focused on improving professional military education and encouraging comprehensive reform across the U.S. Armed Services. Comprising an all-volunteer group of current and former service members and civilians in the defense establishment, the society encourages its members to form local communities of practice (chapters) that regularly meet after work hours to conduct self-directed educational events. These include decision games and essay presentations and critiques. With an unwavering focus on the art and science of warfare, the society seeks to fill the gaps of its members' professional education. It believes in the power and necessity of grassroots solutions to institutional problems. It believes that great good can come from the work of a dedicated few. If you'd like to learn more, please visit the Warfighting Society's website at

Controversy & Clarity

Damien hosts and produces the podcast Controversy & Clarity. A leading effort of the Warfighting Society, the podcast has racked up over 41,000 streams and was recognized in 2020 as one of the “Top 10 Military Podcasts" by DOD Reads. It consists of long-form interviews that aim to generate honest debate and discussion across the U.S. Department of Defense and larger Western defense community. Recurring topics include professional military education, decision making, decision games, small unit tactics, leadership, history, teaching, learning, and critical thinking, to name a few. The guest list has features notable retired and active-duty U.S. generals and diplomats, innovative junior military leaders, pioneering scientists and academics, and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors.

Controversy & Clarity is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and RadioPublic.

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