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About the Center on 21st Century Security and Intelligence

The Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence (21CSI) was created to address the key issues shaping security policy over the coming decades. The Center seeks to answer the critical questions emerging in defense, cybersecurity, arms control, and intelligence in an all-encompassing manner, seeking not just to explore important new policy challenges but also how they cross traditional fields and domains.

The Center focuses on delivering cutting-edge research, analysis, and outreach that shapes public understanding and official decision-making across a broad range of security issues. The Center encompasses five key focal points of public policy research:

  • A Defense Policy team focuses on key trends in warfare and how the U.S. military should respond, both in the near and long term. It is led by Michael O’Hanlon, one of the most widely quoted and influential defense scholars in the world. He is joined by Vanda Felbab-Brown, a leading expert on illicit networks and counterinsurgency, and retired general John R. Allen. It also houses the Federal Executive Fellows (FEF) program, which hosts career officers from each military service and Coast Guard for a year of researching and publishing on defense topics, as well as an International Security Fellowship, which hosts officers from allied militaries.
  • The Brookings Intelligence Project, focusing on the nexus between policymaking and intelligence, is led by Bruce Riedel, a 30-year veteran of the intelligence community. He is supported by a team of resident and nonresident researchers, including career public servants from the intelligence and diplomatic community—John McLaughlin, Paul Pillar, and Daniel Benjamin, and Federal Executive Fellows from the Central Intelligence Agency and National Counterterrorism Center.
  • The Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative examines both the emerging questions of nuclear proliferation and the continued legacy of the Cold War. It is led by Steven Pifer, former special assistant to the president and advisor on the START talks, and he is joined by Robert Einhorn, previously the State Department’s special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control. The initiative also includes seasoned non-proliferation nonresident fellows Gary Samore and Richard Nephew and houses a program designed to cultivate the next generation of arms control scholars
  • A research node on Cybersecurity brings together the work of experts like Richard Bejtlich, chief security strategist at FireEye, to focus on the new policy issues generated by the increasing growth of cyber threats as well as organizations dedicated to conducting cyber operations.
  • Finally, the Africa Security Initiative includes work being done by Michael O’Hanlon, Vanda Felbab-Brown, and colleagues in the Africa Growth Initiative to highlight key issues concerning military, social, and human security in Africa, ranging from crises and conflicts in places such as the Horn of Africa, Central and East Africa, and Nigeria to cross-cutting issues involving illicit economies, terrorism, and other dangers.

The Center is designed to draw lessons from across related fields to allow an even greater scope of collaboration and dissemination for maximum policy impact. In addition, 21CSI links the security studies world to the wealth of expertise and capacity that exists within Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings and its world-class regional and functional centers. The creation of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence promotes the close integration of regional knowledge with functional security analysis in a manner not possible at other institutions.

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