The folks at the Center for a New American Security, also known as the Obama administration in waiting, announced a wave of potential military leaders today, including the announcement that President Obama's former campaign advisor Richard Danzig is its new board chairman.
Danzig was of course, one of the front-runners for the defense secretary job and was to bring with him a slew of experienced Democrats to run the building. But Danzig was left at the altar, with the others when Gates was kept on. It will be extremely interesting to see if Danzig and some of the others below end up following Bill Lynn, now deputy defense secretary, Michele Flournoy, former head of the center and now undersecretary of defense for policy, to the Pentagon.
Just how influential is CNAS with the Obama administration? Well, in addition to Lynn and Flournoy at DoD, Dennis Blair, a former board member, is our new DNI. And two former members of its board of advisors are in positions of power. Susan Rice is the new UN ambassador and James Steinberg is the new deputy secretary of State.
Perhaps the most interesting person in a new position at CNAS is John Nagl [pictured above], who is described by the center's press release as "acclaimed author, West Point graduate, Rhodes Scholar, retired Army officer, and Bronze Star recipient." Nagl is probably best known in military circles for having co-authored the Army's counterinsurgency field manual. He is the center’s new president.
A former Marine, Nathaniel Fick, is the center's new operating officer. He replaces Nate Tibbits, who is a new special assistant to President Obama. Fick wrote the New York Times bestseller, "One Bullet Away."
The center also scooped a prestigious name from the ranks of ink-stained wretches. Tom Ricks, formerly of the Washington Post and winner of a Pulitzer Prize while at the Wall Street Journal, has joined the center.
If you want some insight into what national security Democrats are thinking about, here are some new programs and priorities CNAS lays out. Danzig will lead "an extensive research program on bioterrorism." The center is expanding its work on Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a report coming soon. An Energy Security and Climate Change team will come out with "a comprehensive review of energy policy within the U.S. government." To prove no Democrat can be too green, the center is also starting a new program called "natural security," based on what it calls a "new concept of integrating all natural resource-related security challenges."
Two reports are due out on Asia this month, one on the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the second one is an assessment of strategic imperatives in the region.
They have started a new program for Next Generation Defense Leaders, led by Steve Biegun, Ford Motor Co.'s VP for international governmental affairs, and Nagl. They will hold a series of "events" to introduce participants to policymaking. Any bets these will be eagerly sought spots? CNAS is also working on a broad look at NATO and our other alliances with Europe.