About the Expert
Colonel Alison J. Thompson, U.S. Marine Corps, most recently served as the senior military advisor to the secretary of the Navy. A CH-53E helicopter pilot, she has commanded a helicopter squadron and a Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) comprised of eight squadrons and three site commands. Colonel Thompson served combat tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, and conducted humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Albania, Haiti, and Turkey. She has had staff assignments in manpower, budgeting, acquisitions, readiness, and the U.S. Senate.
Colonel Thompson earned aviation designations as an air mission commander, functional check pilot, and weapons and tactics instructor. From 2018 to 2020, she had the privilege of commanding Marine Aircraft Group-49. In 2010, she became the first female Marine to command a squadron, and had the honor of deploying HMH-464 to Afghanistan ten years after she participated in the seizure of Camp Rhino in 2001.
In 2008, Colonel Thompson deployed for the CONTINUING PROMISE mission that provided humanitarian and civic assistance to Central and South American countries. Previously, she deployed to Iraq for thirteen months during the Al Anbar Awakening, serving as an air mission commander.
She was the future plans officer for her first Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployment, planning the aviation response efforts for humanitarian operations in Albania, earthquake disaster relief in Turkey, and the combat entry force into Kosovo. During her second MEU deployment, she was a tactics officer, conducting operations as part of Task Force 58 immediately after 9/11.
Colonel Thompson has served staff assignments in enlisted assignments, as the rotorcraft occupational field sponsor, and as a congressional fellow as Senator Elizabeth Dole’s military legislative assistant. She was the acquisition vertical lift, special military staff assistant in the Office of Secretary of Defense, and served in both the Navy and Marine Corps programming and budgeting offices.
Her personal awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Individual Air Medal and Strike/Flight with numeral 10, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, she holds an MBA from the University of Mary Washington and an MA in national security strategy from the National War College. Colonel Thompson was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Seminar XXI fellow and a Center for Strategic and International Studies women's global leadership fellow. In 2021, she was inducted into the Women in Aviation International, Pioneer Hall of Fame.