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Thomas G. Mahnken

Senior Research Professor

Director of External Programs for the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies


Thomas G. Mahnken is a Senior Research Professor and the Director of External Programs at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, as well as the Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security at the US Naval War College. From 2006 to 2009, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning. Between 1997 and 2006, he served as a Professor of Strategy at the US Naval War College. From 2004 to 2006 he was a Visiting Fellow at the Merrill Center at Johns Hopkins SAIS. During the 2003-04 academic year he served as the Acting Director of the Strategic Studies Program. He is currently serving on the staff of the Congressionally-mandated National Defense Panel and served on the staff of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, in the Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment, and as a member of the Gulf War Air Power Survey. His most recent books are Strategic Studies: A Reader (Routledge, 2014) and Competitive Strategies for the 21st Century: Theory, History, and Practice (Stanford University Press, 2012). He holds a MA and PhD in international affairs from Johns Hopkins SAIS and BA degrees in history and international relations (with highest honors) from the University of Southern California. He is a Commander in the US Navy Reserve and a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service



  • American Defense Policy
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Arms Control and Disarmament
  • Counterterrorism
  • Elections and Foreign Policy
  • Intelligence
  • International Relations
  • Nuclear Policy and Proliferation
  • Strategic and Security Issues
  • Terrorism
  • U.S. Presidency and Foreign Policy
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction

In the News

The U.S. sea-based nuclear deterrent in a new era.

Thomas G. Mahnken wrote in RealClearDefense, 6/11

Assessing the changing nuclear balance

Thomas G. Mahnken and Jacob Cohn wrote for SAIS Review of International Affairs, 4/17

Preparing for a dark future: Biological warfare in the 21st century

Thomas G. Mahnken wrote in RealClearDefense, 4/16

Antiques road show: The real state of the U.S. military.

Thomas G. Mahnken wrote in The Atlantic, 7/27

Hearing on “A ‘World-Class’ Military: Assessing China’s Global Military Ambitions”.

Thomas G. Mahnken testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 6/20

Andrew W. Marshall: In memoriam.

Thomas G. Mahnken wrote in War on the Rocks, 4/8