September 07, 2023

Meet NATO’s new China-focused intel chief


Journalists: Paul McLeary, Alexander Ward, Matt Berg

The intel position at NATO is generally an American job, partly because “we’re the ones that have most of the intel assets,” said JIM TOWNSEND, who spent years working on NATO and European security issues at the Pentagon and NATO HQ.

“It’s hard enough to get intel from the U.S., even on a good day, so if you have an American who’s running that intel shop, who is from the U.S. intelligence community,” American intelligence offices “feel a little more comfortable giving information to an American at NATO,” added Townsend, who’s now an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.


“Everyone’s acknowledged by now that NATO is not going to play a big role in a China contingency,” Townsend said. “This isn’t the Biden transition where you’re being clever by sending a China hand to NATO headquarters. Now we’ve got a big, long war going on in Europe, and we’re still sending China people there?”

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  • Jim Townsend

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    James Joye Townsend Jr. is an adjunct senior fellow in the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program. After eight years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for European ...