News Release

Brookings Appoints Colin H. Kahl as the Sydney Stein, Jr. Scholar in Foreign Policy

October 2, 2023

Washington, D.C. — The Brookings Institution announced that Colin H. Kahl has joined the Brookings Foreign Policy research program as the Sydney Stein, Jr. Scholar in Residence within the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology. Kahl’s appointment at Brookings began on October 1, 2023. He will continue to serve as the Steven C. Házy Senior Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and Professor of Political Science (by courtesy) at Stanford University. 

Based in Washington, D.C., Kahl will focus on three broad research questions:  

  1. Strategic stability and how lessons from Russia’s war in Ukraine might apply to a world with three major nuclear powers. 
  2. The role of emerging technologies in “integrated deterrence.” 
  3. An assessment of how useful the concept of the “Free World” is in U.S. foreign policy. 

“Colin Kahl is an extraordinary scholar and dedicated public servant,” said Suzanne Maloney, Vice President and Director of Brookings Foreign Policy. “With his deep expertise and high-level experience, he will make valuable contributions to Brookings’s efforts to tackle the most urgent challenges to peace and security.” 

Kahl joins Brookings after leaving public service at the U.S. Department of Defense, where he served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2021 to 2023. In this role, he served as principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense for defense policy and led the formulation and coordination of national security policy within the Department of Defense. Under Kahl’s leadership, the Department rolled out its National Defense Strategy, focusing on the challenge of the People’s Republic of China. He also helped ensure more than $40 billion in security assistance for Ukraine after it was invaded by Russia in February 2022. 

In recognition of his work at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin awarded Kahl with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. 

“Throughout his career, but especially over the last three years in serving the nation at a fraught era in geopolitics, Colin Kahl has demonstrated a level of vision, realism, smarts, and policy sophistication that together make him one of the finest strategic thinkers in the nation,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon, director of research of the Brookings Foreign Policy program. “We are thrilled to welcome him to Brookings.” 

Previously, Kahl served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President (2014-2017) and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East (2009-2011) and taught at Georgetown University (2007-2017) and the University of Minnesota (2000-2007). He received his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University in 2000. 

About Brookings

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