Frank Miller: The International Hatterasman
By KIP TABB
in a booth at the Hatterasman Drive-In, eating a fried flounder
sandwich, it’s hard to imagine Frank Miller, the new owner, is a
man who has walked the halls of power in Iraq and Afghanistan.
of the talk centers on what it takes to run the drive-in, how he has
some kids who are working for him whom he really believes in, and plans
he has for the summer and beyond.
of his plans include creating a place where the Hatteras Island
veterans' community will feel comfortable coming to have a cup of
coffee and meal—and that’s part of the story that brought him to
first came to the Outer Banks in the 1970s when his wife, Nancy, a
teacher at Cape Hatteras Secondary School, took a teaching job in
Manteo. He was running his own landscaping business, but what he really
wanted to do was change things. He ran for mayor—unsuccessfully, as it
turns out. “I was the youngest candidate to ever run for mayor of the
town,” he recalls.
in his 20s, not quite sure what he wanted to do, he joined the Army and
began a 20-plus year career that took him all over the world.
worked his way up through the ranks of the Army—boot camp enlisted all
the way to major, but one thing was clear. “I was major promotable,”
Miller says. “But . . . I was never going to be a general.”
liked the Army. He liked what he was doing, but Miller is the type of
person who believes everything can be improved, believes he is the one
to improve things, and the best way to do that is to be in charge.
It was what he was trained to do in the Army. It’s what he is still doing today.
His last military assignment was as executive officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
I was still green-suited, they created a position as an executive
officer,” he says. “Shortly before 9/11, I retired and went right back
into DIA in the exact same job.”
With security suddenly the top priority for the Army, Miller started traveling.
spent the next 18 months in a whirlwind tour going to all the DIA sites
making sure all their force protection was all set up and everything
was proper in all their locations around the world,” he recalls. “It
was pretty awesome.”
the experience he had gained in the Army and as a civilian contractor,
he formed RedTiger Intelligence Solutions. “We do worldwide mentorship
for leadership,” is how he describes the company’s mission.
The phrase “nation building” gets thrown around a lot, and if it does exist, then Miller and his company are in the thick of it.
my consulting team does, we go over and work with the senior leaders,
in this case in Afghanistan, Karzai and his national security
structures on down,” he explains. “We do all the consulting with those
folks and teach them business processes that have worked for 200 years
for us as we’ve evolved.”
consists almost entirely of retired senior government officials and
general officers, creating an environment where top-level government
officials feel they are talking to their counterparts.
of us are 55 years and older up to about 75,” Miller says. “We do
worldwide mentorship programs for U.S. coalition and host nations'
Afghanistan was the most recent deployment, he and his RedTiger team
have been sent to countries all over the world. Regardless of the
country or setting, Miller has found everyone is searching for the same
want a roof over their heads, they want the security, they want the
safety, they want their kids to go to school, they want food on their
tables,” he says.
are differences, though. Significant differences that make bringing a
western-style government to a troubled nation state such as Afghanistan
is organized crime in all nations, but in many of the countries in
which Miller and his team work, the tendrils of international crime run
through every layer of society.
transnational crime is probably one of the greatest influencers of the
nations we go to. Transnational crime is something the farmer wants to
do because he wants to feed his family,” Miller says. “Afghanistan is
being controlled by maybe half a dozen prime crime families. Call them
warlords or whatever what you want.”
mission has been successful, although as Miller points out, predicting
the future can be dangerous. As he explains it, the key is
understanding to whom to teach the systems that will create success,
not just how to train.
you go in . . . that person who is there may not be there next year,”
he says. “The person you’re training at that time is not the important
person. It’s the person who is going to take his place.
our successes are phenomenal. When you look at what’s happening in
Afghanistan now, notwithstanding what may happen in the future, we’ve
been able to keep all the ingredients to keep 9-10,000 troops into the
future. We’ve got a base security agreement with them. We didn’t have
that in Iraq.”
no matter the level of government power, the similarities to life
everywhere are apparent to him and brings a reminder of home.
call it family leaders. Because you look at Hatteras village or Manteo,
the tribal aspects or the family aspects are very much the same,” he
notes. “You’ve got to be able to work inside that. Those people have to
be able to get the message out the way you want them to hear it.”
back home now, but still on a mission -- this mission to create a
place of refuge for veterans at Hatterasman Drive-in.
vets, they come in and they just hang out,” he says. “And that’s what
this place is all about. It’s a fishing village (Hatteras) but at the
same time it has a really, really strong military tradition.”