He is a senior fellow at the Program on National Security of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and edits its journal, Orbis, starting in 2008. Owens has previously served as a national security advisor to Senator Bob Kasten and in the Department of Energy under the Reagan administration. From 1990 to 1997, Owens was editor-in-chief of the defense journal Strategic Review and an adjunct professor of international relations at Boston University.
Owens served as an infantry platoon commander from 1968-1969 in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, during which he was injured twice, and awarded the Silver Star. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1994. He holds a Ph.D in politics from the University of Dallas, a Master of Arts in economics from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara.