Former Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff


Former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO







As the nation’s former highest-ranking military officer and principal military adviser to the president, secretary of defense and National Security Council, he’s intimately familiar with the greatest geopolitical military threats the U.S. is currently facing and how the coronavirus pandemic might alter the global balance of power. HIGHLIGHTS

Retired chair, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff under Former President Obama and President Trump (2015-2019) Retired U.S. Marine Corps general Former Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (2013-2014) Former top American commander in Afghanistan (2013-2014)


Prior to becoming the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under then-President Obama in 2015, he was a Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps since 2014. He previously served as the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces-Afghanistan from 2013-2014. He was made assistant commandant of the Marine Corps in 2010 after rising rapidly in the ranks from colonel in 2003 to lieutenant general in 2008. He commanded the 5th Marine Regiment during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was one of the first U.S.-led units to cross into the country that year. He earned the nickname “Fighting Joe” for his leadership. He’s from Boston, and his father was a Marine veteran who had a 40-year career with Boston Police. Notable: He was the first Marine Corps officer to serve in four different four-star positions. He was ranked #7 on Fortune magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” in 2014. Some of his foremost challenges as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were winding down the war in Afghanistan and figuring out how to win another conflict against the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. He pushed to keep as large a security force as possible in Afghanistan for as long as possible but did so while maintaining the impression that he respected the president’s ultimate decision-making power. He’s known for his low-key demeanor and strong support within the military ranks.


“Gen. Dunford's Remarks and Q&A at the Center for Strategic and International Studies,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Dunford addresses the most pressing challenges the military faces, foremost among them Islamic violent extremism. He also comments on the situations in Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. He says the Russian military presents the greatest array of threats to U.S. interests, that China’s rise could erode the U.S.’s competitive advantage in Asia, and that the military is closely monitoring Iran and North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. “The Last Adult is Leaving the Room,” Foreign Policy, August 2019 Mark Perry commends Dunford for his careful handling of Donald Trump and praises his combination of political prowess and military intelligence. Dunford’s colleagues also weigh in on his thoughtful leadership on decisions like restarting military-to-military talks with his Russian counterpart in 2017 and stopping the president from striking Iran after Tehran downed an American drone last June.


He retired as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September. He made headlines in 2015 when, after Former President Obama nominated him to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he identified Russia as the top military threat to the U.S. during his confirmation hearings, citing its nuclear arsenal and military intervention in eastern Ukraine. He also made news when he recommended to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus that the Marine Corps request an exemption from a policy change that allowed women to perform all jobs in the infantry in 2015.



He can identify the most pressing national security issues amid the coronavirus crisis and provide perspective on how to resolve them. HIGHLIGHTS

Retired admiral, U.S. Navy Supreme Allied Commander at NATO (2009-2013) Now working in the private sector as an operating executive with The Carlyle Group and as the chair of the Board of Counselors at McLarty Associates Chief international diplomacy and national security analyst for NBC News Chair emeritus of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Naval Institute Senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory BACKGROUND

Stavris retired as a four-star admiral in 2013 after 37 years in the Navy, He was Supreme Allied Commander at NATO from 2009 to 2013 and also oversaw U.S. European Command. At NATO, he was responsible for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, counter piracy, and cyber security. He also previously commanded U.S. Southern Command, which entailed overseeing military operations in Latin America, from 2006 to 2009. Earlier in his military career, he commanded the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet in combat and won the Battenberg Cup, which is given each year to the best ship or submarine in the Navy’s Atlantic fleet. After he retired in 2013, he served five years as the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University before leaving in 2018. Hillary Clinton vetted him for Vice President in the 2016 election, and Donald Trump also considered him as a Secretary of State after he was elected in Fall 2016. In addition to his current role as Chief International Security and Diplomacy Analyst for NBC News, he’s a columnist at both TIME magazine and Bloomberg Opinion.


He has published eight books and hundreds of articles (to use Hamilton parlance, he really does write like he’s running out of time). His most recent book, Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character, was published in October 2019 and chronicles the lives of 10 successful naval commanders. He also published The Leader’s Bookshelf in 2017, which catalogues his picks for the top 50 books that inspire better leadership, and then another book that same year, Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans. He also published The Accidental Admiral, which describes his years in the Navy, in 2014.



Bachelor’s in Political Science from St. Michael’s College Graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School Graduate of the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School Graduate of the U.S. Army War College Master’s (M.A.) in Government from Georgetown University Master’s (M.A.) in International Relations from Tufts University


Graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy Master of Arts (M.A.) in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University Doctorate (Ph.D.) in International Relations from Tufts University


“Joseph Dunford, Joint Chiefs Nominee, Known to Maneuver Between Roles,” The New York Times, May 2015 Written just after Former President Obama nominated Dunford to become the next Joint Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, this article outlines his military career and reputation as a no-nonsense straight-talker popular within the ranks. RECENT VIDEO INTERVIEWS

“A Conversation With General Joseph Dunford,” Council on Foreign Relations, September 2019 This interview was conducted by New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger just before Dunford retired as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. “Joseph Dunford Speaks at Duke University,” Duke University Department of Political Science, November 2018


“Admiral James Stavridis: What I Read,” The Atlantic, August 2012 This piece provides a window into what a day in Stavridis’s life looked like when he was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. He used Google Alerts to streamline his news consumption and kept CNN International on all the time in the background in his office. He also said he enjoyed watching Ken Burns documentaries in his (nonexistent) free time, had never been in a Twitter fight (though he’s a heavy user of the platform), and hoped to one day publish a work of fiction. “James Stavridis, former NATO commander, seen as one of Clinton's top VP contenders,” Navy Times, July 2016 This piece provides an overview of Stavridis’s stances on foreign policy issues and how they might fit into a potential Hillary Clinton administration’s goals (he was being vetted as a potential running mate at the time). He is viewed as a “mainstream foreign policy thinker,” is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladmir Putin’s military-led annexation of Crimea and has called for bolstering NATO in response, and has regularly criticized both former President Obama and then-candidate Trump. VIDEO INTERVIEWS

“Stavridis: Protests Aren’t ‘A Battlespace to Be Dominated," NBC News, June 2020 In this “Meet the Press” appearance, Stavridis explains that he’s speaking out against the Trump administration’s use of active-duty military members because he feels the constitutional right to peaceful protest is under threat. He argues that zones of protest should be protected, not dominated as a battlespace. He says military leaders need to take a stand when they’re asked to take actions that contradict constitutional principles. “A Navy Admiral’s Thoughts on Global Security,” TED Talks, June 2012 Stavridis argues for a vision of global security driven by bridges — that is, collaboration — not walls. He wants the government and the public and private sectors to work together to communicate strategically. He uses the example of Wikipedia to illustrate his point that no one person or agency is as smart as a bunch of them thinking together. Quotable: “I would argue that we will not deliver security solely from the barrel of a gun.”