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Nora Bensahel

Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies and Senior Fellow of the Merrill Center for Strategic Studies

About

Nora Bensahel is a Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies and Senior Fellow of the Merrill Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She is also a Contributing Editor and Columnist for War on the Rocks, and an Adjunct Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. She writes and lectures frequently on U.S. defense policy, U.S. and coalition military operations, and leader development, and also serves as a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board.

Before joining Johns Hopkins SAIS, Bensahel was a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the School of International Service at American University and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. Prior to that, she was a senior fellow and co-director of the Responsible Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. Her recent publications include The Future of the Army: Today, Tomorrow, and the Day After Tomorrow; Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity; Building Better Generals; Battlefields and Boardrooms: Women’s Leadership in the Military and the Private Sector; and The Seven Deadly Sins of Defense Spending.

Bensahel’s early career included over eleven years at the RAND Corporation, where she rose to the position of senior political scientist. She authored numerous reports at RAND including “After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq” and “The Experiences of Foreign Militaries,” in Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy. Bensahel has also written several book chapters and has published articles in Survival, Journal of Strategic Studies, Joint Force Quarterly, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Defence Studies, and European Security.

She spent more than a decade as an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, where she taught MA-level classes and received the Alumni Leadership Council Teaching Award. Bensahel is a frequent commentator in well-known media publications and programs, and has testified before Congress.

Bensahel received her PhD and MA degrees from the Department of Political Science at Stanford University and her BA magna cum laude from Cornell University. While at Stanford, she worked as a research assistant for former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. She held fellowships at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. She currently serves as a member of the President’s Council on Cornell Women.

Expertise

Topics

  • Defense Analyses
  • U.S. defense policy
  • U.S. and coalition military operations

In the News

On adaptation under fire.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel interviewed on The Dead Prussian podcast, 9/14

Strategic Outpost’s fifth annual summer vacation reading list.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 7/28

Veering toward a civilian-military crisis.

Dean Eliot A. Cohen, David Barno, and Nora Bensahel quoted and Mara Karlin and Paula Thornhill cited in Johns Hopkins Hub, 6/30

Reflections on the curse of racism in the U.S. military.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 6/30

After photo op debacle, Pentagon leaders try to regroup.

Mara Karlin and Nora Bensahel quoted in Politico, 6/11

The military and pandemics: Early lessons and future actions.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel participated in Center for Strategic & International Studies webinar, 6/10

Experts challenge general’s rosy forecast for post-pandemic military.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel quoted on Military.com, 5/22

Five ways the U.S. military will change after the pandemic

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 4/28

I do my hair toss, check my emails

Nora Bensahel interviewed on War on the Rocks Bombshell podcast, 4/21

The pandemic’s effect on national defense strategy

David Barno and Nora Bensahel interviewed on Federal News Network, 4/17

Unicorn session

Nora Bensahel interviewed for NatSecGirlSquad, 4/6

After the pandemic: America and national security in a changed world.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 3/31

After the pandemic: America and national security in a changed world

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 3/31

How to fix U.S. Special Operations Forces.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 2/25

A military straining against civilian control?

Nora Bensahel, Mara Karlin, and Paula Thornhill interviewed on War on The Rocks podcast, 2/24

Protecting the U.S. against drone strikes.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel interviewed on Government Matters, 1/22

The drone beats of war: The U.S. vulnerability to targeted killings.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 1/21

Santa’s classified national security gift list for 2019.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 12/10

President Trump, the SEAL controversy, and what it means to be commander in chief.

Nora Bensahel interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio, 11/26

Revisiting the Vietnam War at home — and what it means for today.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 11/12

Changes in strategy for the U.S. Marine Corps.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel interviewed on Government Matters, 10/16

A striking new vision for the Marines, and a wakeup call for the other services.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 10/1

The Joint Chiefs’ power surge.

Nora Bensahel quoted in U.S. & World Report, 9/30

Strategic outpost’s fourth annual summer vacation reading list.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 7/23

The increasingly dangerous politicization of the U.S. military.

David Barno and Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks. 6/18

The other stolen valor: Unrecognized heroism in our recent wars.

Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks. 5/21

Powerful lessons from spring break in World War II France.

Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 4/23

Loyalty and dissent: Getting flag officers to hear the truth.

Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 3/19

Barno and Bensahel mythbusters.

Nora Bensahel cited in Washington Examiner, 2/13

Debunking the myths of the war in Afghanistan.

Nora Bensahel wrote in War on the Rocks, 2/12