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Robert “Alan” Howe was born and raised as a Conservationist: a Boy Scout, hunter and fly fisher in Afton, New York, along the banks of the Susquehanna River.

After graduating from high school in 1980, Alan enlisted in the Air Force, eventually serving 24 years, including 20 years in overseas assignments in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.  As a communications and operations planner, he helped plan and launch the Special Operations actions in the 2003 Iraq War, earning a Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his efforts.  His other military awards include: Joint Service Achievement Medal, US Air Force Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), US Air Force Commendation Medal (two awards) and the US Air Force Achievement Medal.

After retiring in 2005, Alan has engaged in a variety of education and volunteering efforts in Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.  He completed a second Associate’s Degree at Gulf Coast Community College (2006, summa cum laude in History) and a Bachelor’s Degree at George Mason University (2012, summa cum laude in Middle East Displacement Studies).  He has organized and led Civil Rights Movement history tours to Montgomery Alabama, and led citizen science teams in stream ecology in Arlington County, Virginia, and in teaching stream ecology to students in Carlisle schools.  He has written dozens of op-eds and letters published in the Panama City News Herald, The Washington Post, and The (Carlisle) Sentinel, where he wrote a periodic community column.  

In 2006, Alan authored a stabilization plan for Iraq to advance the US Senate debate.  After recruiting distinguished professors from American University and Wayne State University, he lobbied Senate offices in 2007 and 2008, eventually being asked to write the elements of his plan into a Senate amendment for consideration by the Democratic caucus. He was asked to deliver five lectures on the Iraq war at American University.  At the same time, he and his wife, Hiromi Kowaguchi, worked with staff in Senator Bill Nelson’s office to reverse decisions by the US Customs and Immigration Service that discriminated against military families.  As a direct consequence of their efforts, President Bush signed an amendment to the US Immigration and Nationality Act in December 2007 that ended the discrimination. 

Alan is a long-time student of governance and international affairs.  His studies led to his elevation to Government Facilitator for the US Institute of Peace SENSE program (2010-15) that trained government officials on assisting nations as they restored governance and economic activity following civil wars and violent insurgencies. 

Alan and Hiromi purchased their home in Carlisle in 2012.  Since moving to Carlisle fulltime in 2014, Alan has served on several local boards and was most recently a Carlisle Borough representative on the Letort Regional Authority.  He enjoys fly fishing on local streams, plotting a return to hunting, reading, and playing with his hounds.  He and Hiromi have been married for 25 years. Alan has a daughter and four grandchildren from his previous marriage.  His son-in-law is on active duty with the US Army. 

What is Alan reading?

Books (since January 1, 2017)

Johann Hari – Chasing the Scream: The first and last days of the war on drugs

George Orwell – Animal Farm

J.D. Vance – Hillbilly Elegy: A memoir of a family and culture in crisis

Stephan Haggard and Robert P. Kaufman – Dictators and Democrats: Masses, elites and regime change

Jonathan Tepperman – The Fix: How nations survive and thrive in a world in decline

Jamie Longazel – Undocumented Fears: Immigration and the politics of divide and conquer in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Charles Peters – We do our part: Toward a fairer and more equal America

Ian Haney Lopez – Dog Whistle Politics: How coded racial appeals have reinvented racism and wrecked the middle class

Harlow Giles Unger – John Quincy Adams

Niall Kishtainy – A Little History of Economics

Thomas Dublin and Walter Licht – The Face of Decline: The Pennsylvania anthracite region in twentieth century

Carlo Cottarelli – What We Owe: Truths, myths and lies about public debt

George Packer – The Unwinding: An inner history of the new America

Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale

Joe Bageant – Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s class war

Jonathan Haidt – The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion

Patrisse Kahn-Cullors & Asha Bandele – When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir


Currently reading

March/April and May/June Foreign Affairs



Douglas V. Mastriano – Alvin York: A new biography of the hero of Argonne