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Chip Beck


Soldier, Sailor, Artist, Spy, Peacekeeper


As of 2011, Chip Beck is once again trying his hand at retiring from Uncle Sam’s Service, but that does not mean he stopped working altogether, traveling, writing, or being an artist.

From late 1996 through 2001, in his first departure from the government, Chip was a full time editorial cartoonist, combat artist, photographer, and freelance writer, retiring from his Cold War CIA service in 1993 and from the Navy 3 years later in 1996, after serving as a Prisoner of War (POW) Special Investigator at the Pentagon. War, politics, victories, and human tragedies were not abstractions for this artist and writer. 

Then reality called him out of retirement.

After witnessing the terrorist attack against the Pentagon from outside the building on September 11, 2001, Chip came back on duty with the Federal Government from December 2001 until January 2010.  He was appointed as a “Defense Fellow” in the Department of Defense Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) directorate as a Middle Eastern Affairs expert (MA—George Washington University) leading up to the Iraqi Invasion.  When the DOD bureaucracy proved too slow to implement several “strategic communications” concepts relevant to the post invasion conflict, Chip volunteered to serve in Iraq for six months but ended up being posted in Baghdad for 15 months, from December 2003—February 2005. 

Both inside the Pentagon and in Iraq, Chip used his artistic skills to induce humor (“KILJOY-Behind the Pentagon Walls”) and chronicle the war on terrorism and events in Iraq through his sketches and paintings.  During 15 months service that included being Director of Community Affairs in the “Green Zone,” Chip helped Iraqi artists from sectors of the country unite to form the Iraqi Contemporary Visual Artists Society. Most innovative and rewarding however, was a “diplomatic initiative” he created and implemented to resurrect the entire national infrastructure of the Iraqi Boy Scouts and Girl Guides (Al-Khasafa al-Iraqia) in all 18 Iraqi provinces with the help of the World Order of the Scout Movement (WOSM) in Geneva, the Arab Scout Commission in Cairo, the Boy Scouts of America (International Division), and “Scouts and Scouters” worldwide.  As of 2011, a quarter million boys and girls were back in the Scouting Program that originated in Iraq in 1922 under WOSM’s founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell himself.

After returning from Baghdad, Chip transfer from DOD to work in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, where he became the Program and Policy Coordinator for the Africa Contingency Operations Training & Assistance (ACOTA) program, the USG’s premier international peacekeeper training program in Africa from 2005-2010.  During that time, he increased the ACOTA “partnerships” from 10 to 25 countries, led a $264 million program that trained, equipped, and deployed over 150,000 peacekeepers to some 10 UN or African Union peace support operations throughout the continent.  During that time he traveled widely in Africa and completed his doctoral studies in “Conflict Resolution” at Nova Southeastern University (NSU).

In January 2010, Chip retired from the State Department and returned to Africa for six months, working as a consultant in Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, and South Africa for a small company in Nairobi.  Since June 2010, he has worked as a part-time consultant on Africa and the Middle East for larger corporations in the US and Europe, while focusing on a full return to art and writing in 2011.


Prior to returning to government service, Chip traveled to Cuba five times between 1998-2001, where his combat art of the Angolan War was displayed at Havana University (even though it portrayed the war from the side that Cubans had fought against).

Until 9-11 interrupted life in general, Chip was researching material for a book called The Eagle and the Mongoose: The Secret Wars Between the U.S. and Cuba. He spoke on his life as a Combat Artist at a War Correspondents Convention in Havana, Cuba in November 1998, in which he was the only north American journalist to attend. As a result, he discovered several leads to stories he is pursuing. From 5-13 February 1999, he led a delegation of America's top Editorial Cartoonists to Cuba where they engaged in a groundbreaking program of encounters with the Cuban people, cartoonists, officials, and journalists.  He and fellow cartoonist Paul Fell returned three more times, encountering and interviewing historical figures, Cold War operatives, current newsmakers—all without any interference from the Cuban authorities.  In February 1999, Chip and cartoonists Ted Rall, Joel Pett, and Mike Ramirez produced  what is believed to be the first live political satire radio broadcast from Havana to audiences in California, spoofing long-held views of both the Left and the Right.

 During those trips, Chip persuaded the Cuban government to assist him on his investigations into the fates of Americans missing in various parts of the world during the Cold War (See Soldier of Fortune Magazine back issues 1999-2001).  As a prelude to the Cuba trips, Chip traveled to East Berlin where he met with former intelligence officers who were involved in contacts with American POWs in Vietnam in 1967-1968, returning with photographs and information that he hopes to incorporate into a future book.

in 1999, Chip was the freelance "Intelligence and Espionage Correspondent" for APB News, an internet online news service covering police, crime, law and order, espionage and justice stories. He received the Society of Professional Journalism's Sigma Delta Chi Award for his participation in Online Reporting in 1999. Simultaneously, he produced a cartoon feature for APB called "KILJOY-Behind the Badge," focusing on police humor.

On a part-time basis, he was a correspondent and a contributing editor for a variety of military and technological publications, primarily writing feature and thought pieces, ranging from politics and humor to quantum physics and philosophy.

From 1997-1998, Chip was chief editorial cartoonist, caricaturist, and a writer for the satire newspaper The Real Washington. His work still reaches additional audiences via his own visual and news company, Political Graphics & News Service.

In 1996, he was appointed to the Board of Directors for the National Cartoonists Society (NCS), then elected to two subsequent 2-year terms. He is a member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) and was the official photographer for both NCS and AAEC during their annual conventions and official functions. He worked with the International Museum of Cartoon Art (Boca Raton) and Ohio State University to preserve the history of the cartoonists and their societies.

He began his Navy service as a Frogman, and retired as a Commander in Naval Intelligence. In his military and intelligence careers, he saw service or was involved in wars and conflict zones in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola, Western Sahara, Sudan, Algeria, Chad, Ethiopia, Beirut, El Salvador, Honduras/Nicaragua, Colombia, Afghanistan, Grenada, Operation Just Cause in Panama, and Operation Desert Storm. As a Reserve Intelligence Officer, he was Commanding Officer of a Navy Criminal Investigative Service unit and a Defense Intelligence Agency unit.

From 1979-1996, he created and drew SUPERCRAT, the Super Bureaucrat for State Magazine. Another cartoon feature, KILJOY, appeared in newspapers, Navy and Defense publications from 1995-2009, and was a special feature for APB and even the Bush-era Pentagon Policy Directorate, finding its way to Saddam’s old Presidential Palace in the Green Zone from 2003-2005 where KILJOY managed to poke fun at war and politics in a way the real warriors appreciated. 

From 1988-1991, he was daily editorial cartoonist for the Northern Virginia Sun. During that time, he was recalled to active duty for the Gulf War, as the Navy's official Combat Artist. He was also editorial cartoonist for the Sun Gazette and the Georgetown Courier.

Beck has 130 paintings in government collections of the Navy, State Department, Defense Department, National Defense University, the Kuwaiti Embassy, NCIS, the Newseum and U.S. Postal Service. His cartoons and paintings have been displayed in solo and joint exhibitions in Washington, around the country, and abroad.

As an artist, he appeared on Good Morning America, Eye Witness News, Good Morning with Harry Smith, News Channel Eight, Antenne 2, and was the subject of a documentary clip by French TV. The History Channel produced two episodes about his service in Lebanon and Cambodia entitled Live Wire in Beirut and Witness to the Killing Fields.

He taught seminars on editorial cartooning and the ethics of journalism for the Journalism Educators Association, Congressional Youth Leadership Forum, and the Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Korea and Germany until his return to government in 2001.

Beck has a Master's Degree in Near Eastern Studies from George Washington University and completed his Doctoral studies in Organizational Leadership and Conflict Resolution at Nova Southeastern University.  He speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese, and beginning Swahili. He can order beer and swap insults in Russian, Arabic, Lao, and Thai.  He has traveled to 110 countries collecting material for future art and stories.

For more information, contact Political Graphics & News Service at e-mail

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