News Release

Mara E. Karlin Appointed Visiting Fellow in the Brookings Foreign Policy Program.

July 8, 2024

Washington, D.C. – The Brookings Institution announced today that Mara E. Karlin has been appointed Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Foreign Policy program. She is affiliated with the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology in the Foreign Policy program 

“We are thrilled to welcome Mara back to Brookings,” said Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Suzanne Maloney. “Her rigorous scholarship and hands-on policy expertise and leadership will make a powerful contribution to our work on defense and security.” Michael E. O’Hanlon, director of the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology and Director of Research for the Foreign Policy program, also welcomed Karlin’s appointment. “Mara’s world-class track record of government service and scholarship speaks for itself. We are delighted that she is re-joining us at Brookings.” 

Until recently, Karlin was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities at the U.S. Department of Defense, where she led the development and implementation of the 2022 National Defense Strategy. She was also responsible for advising the Secretary of Defense and others on the forces, plans, posture, emerging capabilities, and security cooperation activities necessary to implement the defense strategy. While at the Pentagon, Karlin oversaw the formation of a new emerging capabilities policy office; a historic modernization of U.S. force posture in the Indo-Pacific; the implementation of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States partnership (AUKUS); reform of the security cooperation workforce; and the development of the Defense Planning Guidance, Guidance for the Employment of the Force, and Contingency Planning Guidance. She has served in national security roles for six U.S. secretaries of defense and is a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest civilian award presented by the secretary of defense. 

Karlin’s research interests include national security and defense strategy and budgeting, nonproliferation, terrorism, and regional security in the Middle East and Asia. She is the author of two books, The Inheritance: America’s Military after Two Decades of War (Brookings Institution Press, 2021) and Building Militaries in Fragile States: Challenges for the United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). Her analyses have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, and War on the Rocks. 

From 2017 to 2021, Karlin was a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy program. She is a Professor of Practice and Director of the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (JHU-SAIS). Karlin received her Ph.D. and M.A. from JHU-SAIS, and her B.A. from Newcomb College, Tulane University. 

The Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology researches U.S. grand strategy, foreign policy, and military affairs as well as transnational threats and arms control amid the changing international order. 

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