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.

  • 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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  • February 12, 2013
  • Jacob Stokes, Shawn Brimley
  • Commentaries

Renewing America's Strategic Solvency

Renewing America's Strategic Solvency

As Shawn Brimley and Jacob Stokes write in their commentary Renewing America's Strategic Solvency, foreign policy experts are likely to feel spurned when President Obama gives his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Some may interpret the President’s focus on jobs and the economy, with only passing discussion of international issues, as declinism or retrenchment. However, they argue, given the critical intersection of domestic strength and U.S. national security, these experts would be mistaken to do so.

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  • January 28, 2013
  • Jacob Stokes, Phillip Carter, Shawn Brimley
  • Factsheets

The Future of U.S. Defense Policy: Questions for Secretary of Defense Designate Chuck Hagel

The Future of U.S. Defense Policy: Questions for Secretary of Defense Designate Chuck Hagel

On January 31, the Senate will hold confirmation hearings for former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel to be President Obama’s third secretary of defense. Hagel’s hearing comes at a time of strategic and budgetary uncertainty for the United States and for the Pentagon in particular. In the memo The Future of U.S. Defense Policy: Questions for Secretary of Defense Designate Chuck Hagel, CNAS experts Shawn Brimley, Phillip Carter and Jacob Stokes suggest several possible areas for senators to consider.

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  • October 15, 2008
  • Michele Flournoy, Shawn Brimley
  • Policy Briefs

Enduring U.S. Interests in Iraq: The Three No’s

Even as forces in Iraq are drawn down, the U.S. has enduring interests in that besieged country and the surrounding region, and these interests will require a significant military presence therefore the foreseeable future.These vital longterm U.S. interests in Iraq can be boiled down to Three No’s: no regional war; no al Qaeda safe havens; and no genocide.

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  • September 24, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Obama Embraces Role of Indispensable U.S. in Syria Strike

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley in Bloomberg weighs in on the debate surrounding President Obama's foreign policy in light of his recent orders to attack in Syria. 

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  • September 12, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

The emergence of arm-and-train approach one measure of Islamic State’s rapid rise

In The Washington Post, Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley comments on the previous debates over U.S. intervention in Syria amid the reemergence of the "arm-and-train" approach in the region. 

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  • September 11, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

5 questions for Obama's ISIL speech

POLITICO quotes Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley on President Obama's plan for Syria in his strategy to combat ISIL. 

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  • September 4, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley, Paul Scharre
  • In the News

If America Could Rebuild the U.S. Navy from Scratch...

The National Interest cites Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley and Fellow and Project Director for the 20YY Warfare Initiative Paul Scharre's in an article questioning how the U.S. Navy would be built today if starting from scratch. 

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  • September 4, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Commitments on Three Fronts Test Obama’s Foreign Policy

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley in The New York Times weighs in on the connection between national security policy and reality. 

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  • August 26, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Navy Program at Center of Drone Survivability Debate

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley weighs in on the debate on the future of drones in the Navy in National Defense Magazine.

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  • August 12, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Hillary Clinton criticizes President Obama’s foreign policy in interview with the Atlantic

The Washington Post quotes Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley on Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent statements about President Obama's foreign policy.

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  • July 21, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Panel Debates Future of Carrier-based Drones

Military.com article cites Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley in a discussion of the House Armed Services Committee's continued debate over developments in carrier-based aviation.

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  • July 17, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

Don’t look now, but the plan for massive drones on aircraft carriers is coming

The Washington Post quotes Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley and Bryan McGrath on how new drone aircraft technology serves as an impetus for improving U.S. maritime power projection effectiveness.

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  • June 19, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • In the News

House to vote on A-10 amendment — Afghanistan an Iraq redux? — Defense bigwigs to screen Afghanistan documentary

Politico's "Morning Defense" quotes Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley on U.S. Navy defense policy reform in regards to addressing UCLASS requirements in his upcoming testimony for the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. 

 

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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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  • October 14, 2014
  • Paul Scharre, Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

To Save the Navy’s Next-Gen Drone, Kill It First

In a Defense One op-ed, Shawn Brimley and Paul Scharre argue that killing UCLASS now may be the best way to save it in the long run.

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  • July 16, 2014
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

Getting Unmanned Naval Aviation Right

Executive Vice President Shawn Brimley and Bryan McGrath, managing director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, make a case for why the U.S. Navy should invest smartly in unmanned aircraft.

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  • September 18, 2013
  • Shawn Brimley
  • Op-eds

The Next QDR Is the Last Chance for Sanity

In an op-ed for Defense One, Vice President and Director of Research Shawn Brimley, discusses the high stakes associated with the QDR and warns, "If hard choices are not made between now and the QDR’s release in
February 2014, it will become exponentially more difficult to prevent an
erosion of American military power."

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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.

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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  • 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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