Shawn Brimley

  • Executive Vice President and Director of Studies

Shawn Brimley is Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) where he oversees the center’s research and serves on the executive leadership team. Mr. Brimley rejoined CNAS after serving in the Obama Administration from February 2009 to October 2012 most recently as Director for Strategic Planning on the National Security Council staff at the White House. He also served as Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon from 2009 to 2011, where he focused on the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, overseas basing and posture, and long-range strategy development. In 2012, he was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service and in 2010 he was awarded the Officer of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.

Mr. Brimley was a founding member of CNAS in 2007 and was the inaugural recipient of the 1Lt. Andrew Bacevich Jr. Memorial Fellowship. He has also worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mr. Brimley has been published in a variety of venues, including the New York Times, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. Educated at Queen’s University and George Washington University, his research interests include U.S. national security strategy and defense policy, the impact of emerging technology on U.S. strategic choices, and the evolution of America’s global diplomatic and defense posture. Mr. Brimley is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Washington with his wife Marjorie and their two children.

  • June 23, 2015
  • Dafna Rand, Jacob Stokes, Julianne Smith, Shawn Brimley
  • Reports

Enabling Decision: Shaping the National Security Council for the Next President

Four CNAS experts - including three former National Security Council (NSC) staff - recommend changes to NSC management processes and structure to make it more agile and effective for the next president. 

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  • February 3, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley, Phillip Carter, Elbridge Colby, Patrick M. Cronin, Michele Flournoy, Ilan Goldenberg, Jerry Hendrix, Nicholas Heras, Van Jackson, Katherine Kidder, Paul Scharre, Julianne Smith, Jacob Stokes, Alexander Sullivan
  • Reports

Ideas to Action: Suggestions for the 25th Secretary of Defense

In advance of Dr. Ashton Carter’s upcoming nomination hearing to be Secretary of Defense, CNAS experts have produced a series of commentaries outlining the key issues the 25th Secretary of Defense will face.

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  • December 3, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Congressional Testimony

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley before HASC on DOD's Third Offset Strategy

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley testified before the HASC Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces on The Role of Maritime and Air Power in DoD’s Third Offset Strategy.

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  • July 16, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Congressional Testimony

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley before House Armed Services Committee on UCLASS

cnas-shawn-brimley-prepared-statement-hasc

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley testified before the House Committee on Armed Services regarding the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) Requirements Assessment.

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  • May 13, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley, Paul Scharre
  • Op-Eds

CTRL + ALT + DELETE: Resetting America's Military

ctrl-alt-del-resetting-americas-military-brimley-scharre

In the May edition of Foreign Policy, Shawn Brimley and Paul Scharre address the question: "If you built the U.S. Military today from scratch with no historical burdens, how would you build it?"

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  • January 22, 2014
  • Robert O. Work, Shawn Brimley
  • Reports

20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age

20YY-Preparing-for-war-in-the-robotic-age

20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age calls upon the United States to prepare for war in new era in which “unmanned and autonomous systems will play central war-fighting roles for the United States, its allies and partners, and its adversaries.”

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  • November 13, 2013
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Commentaries

The Danger of Strategic Distraction

The United States will respond to the horrifying use of chemical weapons by the Asad regime. It is in America's interests to be seen as leading the charge against such an abomination, and in the process help accelerate a dictator's departure. We should be under no illusions however that any use of force opens the door to a brighter future for Syria's oppressed and vulnerable population. Asad's departure will not end the civil war – it may even make things worse.

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  • September 25, 2013
  • Ben FitzGerald, Kelley Sayler, Shawn Brimley
  • Reports

Game Changers: Disruptive Technology and U.S. Defense Strategy

game-changers-CNAS

In Game Changers: Disruptive Technology and U.S. Defense Strategy, Vice President Shawn Brimley, Director of the Technology and National Security Program Ben FitzGerald and Research Associate  Kelley Sayler discuss how the rapid diffusion of advanced technology throughout the world has the potential to challenge the U.S. technological advantage in defense capabilities.

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  • September 5, 2013
  • Robert O. Work, Shawn Brimley
  • Commentaries

Defense Reform Consensus

Defense Reform Consensus Letter to the Pentagon and Congress

In a joint letter to Congress and the Pentagon, individuals from ten diverse think tanks, including CNAS, express a consensus on "the need to address the growing imbalances within the defense budget that threaten the health and long-term viability of America’s volunteer military." 

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  • February 27, 2013
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Congressional Testimony

Shawn Brimley Testifies Before the House Armed Services Committee on the QDR

Shawn Brimley Testifies Before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the QDR

In his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, CNAS Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley discussed the role of the QDR and key issues for the 2014 QDR in the context of a changing strategic environment.

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Pages

  • June 10, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

US to Send Up to 450 More Troops to Train Iraqis

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley weighs in on President Obama's order to deploy up to 450 more U.S. troops to Iraq.

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  • May 28, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Press Notes

CNAS Press Note: To Beat ISIS, Bypass Baghdad

In response to vigorous debate over U.S. strategy in Iraq following ISIS’ conquest of Ramadi, Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley has written a new Press Note arguing that we need to bypass the central government in Baghdad in order to defeat ISIS.

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  • May 15, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Bush struggles to clarify stance on wisdom of invading Iraq

Shawn Brimley, executive vice president and director of studies, weighs in on the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq.

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  • May 4, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Obama picks Marine commander for next chairman of the Joint Chiefs

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley discusses President Obama's pick for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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  • April 2, 2015
  • Julianne Smith, Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Why Obama chose the Iran talks to take one of his presidency’s biggest risks

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley and Director of the Strategy and Statecraft Program Julianne Smith discuss why the President is willing to take risks with Iran negotiations.

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  • March 26, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Conquering the South China Sea

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley weighs in on Chinese military bases in the South China Sea.

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  • February 18, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Obama’s Reagan Play

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley weighs in on economic landscape under the Obama Administration.

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  • February 12, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

The Pentagon's new whiz kids

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley weighs in on potential reforms at the Pentagon.

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  • February 6, 2015
  • Richard Fontaine, Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Obama's national security strategy: Version 2.0

Reuters references President Richard Fontaine and Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley's recent op-ed on national security strategy. 

 

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  • January 22, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

McCain will use influential Senate perch to push for expanded Middle East response

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley remarks on John McCain's position as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Pages

  • May 11, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley, Ilan Goldenberg, Nicholas Heras
  • Op-eds

Can Obama Save the GCC Summit?

In a Foreign Policy op-ed, CNAS experts Shawn Brimley, Ilan Goldenberg, and Nicholas Heras discuss different methods through which the United States can manage its anxious Gulf Arab allies in order to prevent greater instability in the Middle East. 

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  • April 28, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

THE NAVY’S NEW MUSEUM DRONE AND STRATEGIC MALPRACTICE

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley discusses the Navy possibly decommissioning the two X-47Bs.

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  • March 27, 2015
  • Jerry Hendrix, Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

Let’s Lock in the Rebalance to Asia

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley and Senior Fellow and the Director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Jerry Hendrix weigh in on the Rebalance to Asia. 

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  • March 2, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

Contesting China’s Facts on New Ground

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley dives in on China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

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  • February 24, 2015
  • Jerry Hendrix, Paul Scharre, Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

Ash Carter: Invest in the 3rd Offset Strategy

CNAS experts Shawn Brimley, Jerry Hendrix and Paul Scharre pen an op-ed discussing U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's vision for the future. 

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  • February 5, 2015
  • Richard Fontaine, Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

Don’t Expect Too Much From Obama’s National Security Strategy

President Richard Fontaine and Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley pen an op-ed discussing what to expect from Obama's national security strategy.

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  • February 4, 2015
  • Elbridge Colby, Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

Ash Carter Has One Shot To Keep the Pentagon’s Technology Edge

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley and Robert M. Gates Fellow Elbridge Colby pen an op-ed discussing major challenges facing Ash Carter.

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  • January 21, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

THE STATE OF THE UNION: THE PRESIDENT STRUCK THE RIGHT TONE

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley gives his thoughts on the State of the Unions address.

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  • January 21, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

THE STATE OF THE UNION: THE PRESIDENT STRUCK THE RIGHT TONE

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley gives his thoughts on the State of the Union address.

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  • October 15, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

Offset Strategies & Warfighting Regimes

Director of Studies Shawn Brimley pens an op-ed  marking the beginning of a new project, "Beyond Offset." The op-ed discusses offset strategy and "military-technical superiority."

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Pages

  • December 3, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Congressional Testimony

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley before HASC on DOD's Third Offset Strategy

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley testified before the HASC Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces on The Role of Maritime and Air Power in DoD’s Third Offset Strategy.

Read More
  • July 16, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Congressional Testimony

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley before House Armed Services Committee on UCLASS

cnas-shawn-brimley-prepared-statement-hasc

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley testified before the House Committee on Armed Services regarding the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) Requirements Assessment.

Read More
  • February 27, 2013
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Congressional Testimony

Shawn Brimley Testifies Before the House Armed Services Committee on the QDR

Shawn Brimley Testifies Before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the QDR

In his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, CNAS Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley discussed the role of the QDR and key issues for the 2014 QDR in the context of a changing strategic environment.

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  • August 3, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Videos

Interview: Shawn Brimley on This Week in Defense News on DoD budget

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley discusses the National Defense Authorization Act on This Week in Defense News.

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  • July 8, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley, Jacob Stokes, Katherine Kidder, Michele Flournoy
  • Videos

Video: 1LT Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr., USA Fellowship

This video highlights the 1Lt Andrew Bacevich, Jr., USA Fellowship and its impact on current and former Bacevich Fellows.

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  • July 8, 2015
  • Michele Flournoy, Shawn Brimley
  • Videos

Video: CNAS 2015 Annual Conference - 1Lt Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr., USA, Fellowship Presentation

Research Associate Katherine Kidder is presented with the Bacevich Fellowship.The fellowship is presented by Chief Executive Officer Michèle Flournoy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Asia Group, Dr. Kurt Campbell, Vice President, Global Security Policy, Europe and the Americas at Lockheed Martin Corporation, Dan Fata, and Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley. 

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  • July 8, 2015
  • Michele Flournoy, Shawn Brimley, Jerry Hendrix, Robert D. Kaplan
  • Videos

Video: CNAS 2015 Annual Conference - Opening Remarks & Orienting to the World in 2025

Chief Executive Officer Michèle Flournoy and Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley welcome attendees to the conference. Senior Fellow Robert D. Kaplan, Senior Fellow Dr. Jerry Hendrix, and Chief Executive Officer of Caerus Associates, Dr. Erin Simpson discuss the rise and fall of global powers and what developments we can expect in the next decade.

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  • February 5, 2015
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Audio

Audio: Shawn Brimley discusses suggestions for Ash Carter

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley discusses suggestions for Ash Carter.

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  • October 31, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Audio

Shawn Brimley, Executive Vice President, CNAS

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley joins Federal News Radio to discuss the Beyond Offset program.

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  • September 8, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Videos

Interview: Shawn Brimley on CNN OutFront discussing ISIS

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley joined CNN's OutFrount with Erin Burnett to discuss ISIS' recruitment of American Ahmad Abousamra.

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  • June 16, 2014
  • Jacob Stokes, Shawn Brimley
  • Videos

Video: Eighth Annual Conference: 1Lt Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr., USA, Fellowship Presentation

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley announces Jacob Stokes as 2014 Bacevich Fellow.

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  • June 17, 2013
  • Shawn Brimley, Michele Flournoy
  • Videos

Video: CNAS 2013 Annual Conference - Defense Strategy Dialogue

CNAS 2013 Annual Conference - Defense Strategy Dialogue

CNAS Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley moderated a discussion at the 2013 CNAS Annual Conference on June 12 with the Honorable Michèle Flournoy, co-chair of the CNAS Board of Directors; Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman Corporation; and The Honorable Eric Edelman, Distinguished Fellow at CSBA on U.S. national security strategy in the era of sequestration and beyond.

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