National defense strategy: Asking what you can do for your country

American flag superimposed with image of soldiers

National defense strategy: Asking what you can do for your country

Thursday, April 11, 2024
2:00PM - 3:15PM (EDT)
Event Details

Congress established the Commission on the National Defense Strategy by statute to examine and make recommendations about national defense strategy. The Commission will issue a report to Congress, the president, and the American public in the summer of 2024 to describe the U.S. strategic threat environment and to inform future budget requests, legislation, appropriations, and Department of Defense operations and planning.

To prepare recommendations for this report, the Commission is holding public conversations and meeting with senior national security leaders, business leaders, members of Congress, and foreign allies and partners. We invite you to join Commission Chair Jane Harman and Vice Chair Eric Edelman, along with commissioners Tom Mahnken, General Jack Keane, Mara Rudman, and Alissa Starzak, for a public conversation moderated by Miller Center Director and CEO William Antholis.

Thursday, April 11, 2024
2:00PM - 3:15PM (EDT)
The Miller Center
2201 Old Ivy Rd
Charlottesville, VA
Eric Edelman headshot

Eric Edelman

Eric Edelman, a Miller Center practitioner senior fellow and vice chair of the Commission on the National Defense Strategy, retired as a career minister from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2009 after having served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House. As the undersecretary of defense for policy (2005–2009), he oversaw strategy development as the Defense Department’s senior policy official with global responsibility for bilateral defense relations, war plans, special operations forces, homeland defense, missile defense, nuclear weapons and arms control policies, counter-proliferation, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, arms sales, and defense trade controls. Edelman served as U.S. ambassador to the Republics of Finland and Turkey in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and was principal deputy assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney for national security affairs.

jane Harman headshot

Jane Harman

Jane Harman, chair of the Commission on the National Defense Strategy, was selected by Congress in January 2023 to hold this role. She served nine terms in Congress as the U.S. representative for California’s 36th congressional district and was ranking member of the Intelligence Committee after 9/11. Since leaving the House in 2011 to become the first woman president and CEO of the Wilson Center, she has served on numerous government advisory boards (CIA, DNI, DOD and State Department) and currently serves on boards for DHS and NASA. She also chairs the board of Freedom House and is a trustee of the Aspen Institute, a Hauser Leader at the Kennedy School, and a Presidential Scholar at USC. Her book, Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Makes Us Less Safe, was published in 2021. Harman holds a BA from Smith College and a JD from Harvard Law School.

General Jack Keane headshot

General Jack Keane

General Jack Keane is the chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, a member of the Secretary of Defense Policy Board, and a member of the 2018 and 2022 National Defense Strategy Commissions. A four-star general, he completed 37 years of public service in December 2003, culminating in his appointment as acting chief of staff and vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army. General Keane was in the Pentagon on 9/11 and provided oversight and support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He received a BS from Fordham University as a distinguished military graduate and holds an MA from Western Kentucky University. He also is a graduate of the Army War College and the Army Command and General Staff College. His military service medals and citations include the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Award, the Bradley Prize, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many others.

Thomas Mahnken headshot

Thomas Mahnken

Thomas Mahnken is president and chief executive officer of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He is a professor of practice at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and serves as a member of the 2022 National Defense Strategy Commission. He was previously deputy assistant secretary of defense for policy planning from 2006 to 2009 and helped craft the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review and 2008 National Defense Strategy. He was a member of the 2018 National Defense Strategy Commission and served on the staff of the 2014 National Defense Panel, the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Gulf War Air Power Survey. He also served for 24 years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, including tours in Iraq and Kosovo. Mahnken holds a BA from the University of Southern California, was a national security fellow at the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, and holds an MA and PhD in international affairs from Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS.

Mara Rudman headshot

Mara Rudman

Mara Rudman is a James R. Schlesinger Distinguished Professor at the Miller Center, where she directs the Ripples of Hope Project, aimed at identifying practical approaches to help democratic leaders resolve key challenges. She serves on the 2022 National Defense Strategy Commission and the Howard University College of Arts and Sciences board of advisors. Rudman also consults for Democracy Forward. She was previously executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, and her government positions have included serving as deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs in the Obama and Clinton administrations; deputy envoy for the Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace at the U.S. Department of State; assistant administrator for the Middle East at the U.S. Agency for International Development; and chief counsel to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She received an AB from Dartmouth College and a JD from Harvard Law School.

Alissa Starzak headshot

Alissa Starzak

Alissa Starzak is the vice president and global head of public policy at Cloudflare and a member of the 2022 National Defense Strategy Commission. Before joining Cloudflare, Starzak served as general counsel of the U.S. Department of the Army during the Obama-Biden administration. She was previously general counsel for legislation at the U.S. Department of Defense, counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and assistant general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of General Counsel. Starzak graduated from Amherst College and the University of Chicago Law School. After law school, she clerked for The Honorable E. Grady Jolly, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Bill Antholis headshot

William Antholis (moderator)

William J. Antholis has served as director and CEO of UVA's Miller Center of Public Affairs since January 2015. In that time, the Miller Center has strengthened its position as the leading nonpartisan research institution on the American presidency and worked with scholars across the University of Virginia to deliver vital research to policymakers and the public. Before coming to the Miller Center, Antholis served as managing director at the Brookings Institution from 2004 to 2014, working directly with Brookings's president and vice presidents. Antholis is the author of Inside Out India and China: Local Politics Go Global (2013) and co-author (with Strobe Talbott) of Fast Forward: Ethics and Politics in the Age of Global Warming (2010). He has published articles, book chapters, and opinion pieces on U.S. politics, U.S. foreign policy, international organizations, the G8, climate change, and trade.

The speech is best known for the words: "Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."

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This Department of Defense report includes U.S. national defense strategy, nuclear posture review, and missile defense review