Steve Galster

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"Steve has helped develop five organizations, including Global Survival Network (USA), Phoenix (Russia), WildAid, ASEAN-WEN, and Freeland. Steve has served as a Chief of several USAID-sponsored programs between 2005-2012 and now works closely with the ASEAN Secretariat, NGOs, Police, Customs, and environmental agencies of 14 Asian countries to develop multi-agency task forces and public awareness initiatives that address transnational organized crime. His background covers investigative research, media campaigning, and program development relating to counter-human and wildlife trafficking programs in the former Soviet Union, USA, China, Afghanistan, Africa and Southeast Asia."[1]

"Steve Galster and his colleagues have now taken their armed conservation approach to South-East Asia. In Thailand, the government was very slow to sanction WildAid's operations, until a ranger and poacher were shot and killed in a national park. " [1]

2016 article: "Steven Galster, the founder and executive director of the Freeland Foundation, based in Bangkok, is known for his aggressive and inventive covert and overt operations to combat wildlife and human trafficking." [2]

"Galster has spent the past two decades working as a political and environmental detective, often under cover, and during that time he has specialized in collating intelligence on the global flow of contraband—be it grenades, ganja, girls, or gorillas. Along the way he's made some unusual connections. He spent part of the late eighties embedded with the anti-Soviet mujahedeen in Afghanistan, where he watched the guerrillas routinely use opium profits to buy weapons. In the nineties, while helping Russian police and environmental officials break up a ring that was smuggling the pelts (and parts) of endangered Siberian tigers, he saw firsthand that the crooks were also involved in an entirely different enterprise—moving women into the sex-slavery trade in Japan...

"WildAid was founded in 1999 to turn back this tide. It's the brainchild of Galster and three colleagues: Suwanna Gauntlett, 40, who previously ran the Gauntlett Group Inc., an eco-consulting firm that helped industrial giants such as Nike and Alcoa make their factories run cleaner; and Peter K. Knights and Steven Trent, two 40-year-old trafficking experts from Great Britain who previously worked for the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a nonprofit that specializes in exposing environmental crime. ..

"The group received its initial seed money—$1 million—from the Barbara Delano Foundation, a San Francisco–based green fund created by the late Barbara Delano Gauntlett, Suwanna's mother and the heir to the Upjohn Pharmaceutical fortune. These days, the foundation provides 38 percent of WildAid's $5 million annual budget; the rest comes from institutional grants and public donations, 100 percent of which go directly into international field projects, which will cost about $4 million this year...

"In 1986, he enrolled in a security studies graduate program at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., where most of his teachers were either employees or alums of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, the State Department, or the White House. It was there—and during a subsequent job at the National Security Archive, a GWU think tank that oversees the world's largest collection of declassified U.S. government documents—that he learned to "treat every little piece of intelligence as significant information, part of a puzzle that becomes clear only later, when you put all the pieces together."

"Galster coupled his curiosity with an inherent affinity for intrigue. In 1988, the Archive assigned him to analyze the U.S.-Soviet proxy war in Afghanistan, starting with declassified documents in which important information had been blacked out. He filled in the blanks by traveling to Moscow and convincing a few Soviet academics to endorse a visit to Afghanistan. He started off embedded with Soviet troops but ended up hanging out with the CIA-backed mujahedeen...

"In 1991, the EIA hired Galster and his girlfriend at the time, an Africa scholar named Kathi Austin, to examine the connections between civil wars in Africa and the ivory trade. They got started by joining a Young Republicans chapter in Washington, which led to their meeting what Galster calls "mercenaries and right-wingers" who were supporters of such rebel leaders as Jonas Savimbi, in Angola, and Alfonso Dhlakama, in Mozambique. Posing as conservative journalists, the pair traveled all over southern Africa and met members of the Mozambique National Resistance (a.k.a. Renamo), who were arming themselves by selling elephant ivory, rhino horns, and gems. After more than a year of research, their 1992 report for the EIA, "Under Fire: Elephants in the Front Line," helped convince CITES to uphold the international ban on the ivory trade. " [3]

"n 1984/85 he took to travel through Europe, ending up working as an English teacher in Greece. Then he returned to the United States to take up a Masters Degree at George Washington University, where he graduated in 1988 with an M.A. in Security Policy Studies. He focused on US-Soviet Cold War relations, with an emphasis on superpower competition along the 3rd World periphery...

"– 1986-1990: Led National Security Archive’s Afghanistan Project. Through the declassification of security documents and his first-hand accounts inside war torn Afghanistan and Pakistan border areas, Galster observed the complex dynamics of a super power proxy war.[2] He interviewed diplomats and intelligence service officers from multiple countries, and then accompanied both Soviet soldiers and Mujahideen rebels into war zones, documenting the trafficking of arms and narcotics among combatants. He predicted protracted civil war after the Soviet withdrawal, as well as strengthened fundamentalists due to what he described as a skewed covert assistance program by by the CIA through Pakistan’s ISI, which favored Islamic hardliners. [3] In his research, Galster was mentored by experts Selig Harrison, Dr. Eric Hooglund, and investigative journalists Scott Armstrong and Ahmed Rashid. With his colleagues at National Security Archive, he produced an encyclopedic document set on US Policy toward Afghanistan from 1973-1990, which was published by National Security Archive and Chadwyck Healy in 1991. [4] He also published articles on the war in Afghanistan in The Nation,[5], Afghanistan Forum, [6], Third World Quarterly [7], and a small book on arms dealers supplying civil wars (co-written with Lawrence Lifschultz and Rabia Alia)...

"– 1993-1994: Hired by the UK-based Tiger Trust, Galster moved to Russia to help design and oversee the development of “Operation Amba”, a counter-poaching program that aimed to reduce poaching of Siberian tigers in the Far East. Amba went on to reduce poaching of the tiger population[11]...

"– 1994: Galster was lead author of report and video called “Crimes Against Nature: Organized Crime and the Wildlife Trade”, published by Endangered Species Project (ESP), which was presented at the 9th UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) that was held in Florida. The report and video were commissioned, funded, and used by ESP Director, Sam LaBudde to campaign for global wildlife enforcement reform.[12]

"– 1995: Together with Michael C. Mitchell, Galster launched Global Survival Network (GSN), a Washington,DC-based NGO focusing on wildlife and human trafficking.[13]" [4]

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  1. Freeland Foundation Team, organizational web page, accessed March 12, 2019.