Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Thomas Mahnken

Thomas G. Mahnken is currently Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security at the U.S. Naval War College and a Visiting Scholar at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at The Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Dr. Mahnken served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning from 2006-2009. In that capacity, he was responsible for the Department’s major strategic planning functions, including the preparation of guidance for war plans and the development of the defense planning scenarios.   He was the primary author of the 2008 National Defense Strategy and contributing author of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. He spearheaded the Secretary of Defense’s Minerva Research Initiative, which will provide $100 million in grants to universities to conduct basic research in the social sciences, and led an interagency effort to establish, for the first time in five decades, a National Security Council-run interagency policy planning body.

Prior to joining the Defense Department, he served as a Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College. From 2004 to 2006 he was a Visiting Fellow at the Merrill Center at SAIS. During the 2003-04 academic year he served as the Acting Director of the SAIS Strategic Studies Program. His areas of primary expertise are strategy, intelligence, and special operations forces.


Articles by Thomas Mahnken (1)

  • Sea-based nukes: A marginal effect on stability

    There are several sources of instability in the Asia Pacific region today. Some are political, such as China's pursuit of territorial claims at sea and on land at the expense of its neighbours. Others are military, such as those elements of Chinese military modernisation aimed at coercing Beijing's neighbours and countering US extended deterrence guarantees and power projection capabilities. Chinese doctrine also contains features that could be highly destabilising.