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
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 News.com called "KILJOY-Behind
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
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
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
unit and a Defense Intelligence Agency unit.
From 1979-1996, he created and
drew SUPERCRAT, the Super
Bureaucrat for State
cartoon feature, KILJOY, appeared in newspapers, Navy and
Defense publications from 1995-2009, and was a special feature for APB
News.com 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
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
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 BeckChip@AOL.com.