About Matt

Mr. Matthew Armstrong is a writer and speaker on public diplomacy and political warfare. Since January 2020, he has been an MPhil/PhD student at King’s College London in the Defence Studies Department. His research area is the early cold war, 1945-1965, and how the U.S. armed for the war it was comfortable with instead of the war being waged against the national interests. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer for the Joint Special Operations University and an Associate Fellow at King’s Centre for Strategic Communication at King’s College London. His book on how the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was not just the first peacetime statutory authorization of global public diplomacy or one of the U.S. government’s first responses to Russian political warfare waged against U.S. interests abroad, but an acceptance that foreign public opinion was critical to the success of national security policies, should be available in 2021.

From August 2013 through January 2017, Matt served as a Governor on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, since renamed the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate into this part-time role, he provided strategic guidance and oversight over the U.S. government’s international media operations and many of its Internet Freedom operations.

From 2012 through 2018, he served as a Member of the Board of The Public Diplomacy Council and served as Board Secretary from 2014 to 2016. The PDC is a nonprofit organization committed to the importance of the academic study, professional practice, and responsible advocacy of public diplomacy.

In 2011, Matt served as the Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy where he reoriented the organization to its core purpose of providing “advocacy and oversight over U.S. government efforts that intend to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics.” This Commission is a federal body established by the Smith-Mundt Act 1948, pursuant to an amendment from then-Rep. Everett Dirksen (R-IL), to provide advice the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. It did not work for the State Department and served both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government.

In 2010, Matt founded and led the MountainRunner Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit focused on issues related to public diplomacy. In 2004, he launched the leading blog on public diplomacy and strategic communication, www.MountainRunner.us.

Matt currently sits on the advisory board of the Information Professionals Association and was a founding editorial board member for the academic journal of the NATO Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence. He has participated in “small councils” and served as a “gray beard” (well before he had traces of gray) advising various agencies and NATO ministries on issues related to strategic communication, political warfare, information operations, and anti-propaganda efforts. He was a member of the (U.S.) National Press Club for over a decade.

In March 2017 and October 2015, he testified before Congress on the subject of “information warfare”* and countering propaganda. In October 2016, he was inducted into the Psychological Operations Regiment at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School as an Honorary Member. (* The quotes denote my discomfort with this poorly conceived term as “information” is a munition)

Matt taught graduate courses on public diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism as an Adjunct Lecturer, has lectured at U.S. military schools, and was a frequent speaker at NATO conferences, as well as other military and civilian foreign government, academic, and commercial events across Europe and in Asia on public diplomacy and strategic communication.

Matt earned a B.A. in International Relations and a Master of Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California. He also studied European security and the Middle East at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Matt resides outside of Zürich, Switzerland, with his wife, two children, and dog (a rescue from a Romanian shelter).

On the personal side, Matt is a veteran Ironman triathlete (racing 1998-2004, 2016-present), ultramarathoner, cyclist (road & gravel), and experienced open water swimmer (thoroughly enjoying his relay swim across the English Channel in 2015). His longest run is the 69-mile Hadrian’s Wall ultra. He held coaching certifications from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling (Level II), USA Track and Field, and was a certified Masters swim coach.

“Mountainrunner” was and remains the nickname of his favorite, best, and now late (2002-2016), running partner: Luna. We were lucky to adopt her from the Carson (California) animal shelter and later just as lucky to rescue Teddy (2003-2016), a three-legged wonder dog found in a trash can as a tiny pup. (No, 2016 was not one of the better years.) When I first launched this blog in November 2004, I did so anonymously with the only purpose of practicing writing. (See more about the origin of the blog here.) The hosting platform needed a name for the site and, with my girl was at my side and continuing with the anonymity, I typed in her nickname gained from running 25-35 miles per week on the trails in the Santa Monica Mountains. Her longest runs at just under 14 (hilly) miles. There are many stories about her, including the two times we encountered the local mountain lion. If you’re ever running on the Westridge Trail and drop down into Sullivan Canyon, you’ll be running the Luna Loop.

The picture of Luna at the top of this site is my digital adaptation of a superb oil on canvas portrait done by the artist Emily Wynn. She did this, and one of Teddy (see the blue dog with the blue background at the link), from photos and both original paintings hang in my home office.