James J. Townsend Jr. (Jim) is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy, responsible for managing the day-to-day defense relationship between the United States, NATO, the EU and the nations of Europe. He is married to Joan Diggs Townsend and has three children, Carolyn, Jimmy and Beth.
Before taking up his current position, Jim was a Vice President of the Atlantic Council of the United States and Director of the Council’s Program on International Security. In this position, he strengthened the Council’s voice and impact on transatlantic security and defense issues, making the Atlantic Council a leading player in shaping the Euro-Atlantic defense agenda.
Jim joined the Atlantic Council after a distinguished career at the Pentagon and at NATO. In the 1990s, Jim was the Principal Director of European and NATO Policy (2003-2006), the Director of NATO Policy (2002-2003) and the Director of the Defense Plans Division at the US Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium (1998-2002).
Before beginning his tour at NATO, Mr. Townsend served for eight years (1990-1998) as Deputy Director of European Policy, where he played a pivotal role in NATO enlargement and building new relations between the US and the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe. From 1990 – 1994, Mr. Townsend was the Country Director for Northern Europe, where he developed new, post-Cold War defense relations between the US and the Scandinavian nations. During this time, Mr. Townsend was also heavily engaged in the Balkan crisis and in building the European coalition that fought with the US in the Gulf War.
Prior to his service on the European Policy staff, Mr. Townsend worked in the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) as a Country Director for European security assistance and as the assistant to the DSCA Comptroller, where he worked on most of the financial aspects involved in foreign military sales. Mr. Townsend began his career in 1978 with internships in the Departments of State, Defense, in the Office of Congressman Charles E. Bennett and in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), where he worked on the strategic affairs staff. In 1986, Mr. Townsend received a direct commission in the U.S. Navy Reserve (intelligence) leaving the Reserves as a Lieutenant Commander.
Mr. Townsend has been awarded a Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious Executive), Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Civilian Service Award (twice), the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence and the Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service Award. He is an adjunct professor of international studies at American University and has lectured overseas and in the US at the War Colleges, National Defense University, and the Foreign Service Institute. He has also provided commentary in the international press on TV, radio and in newspapers.
Mr. Townsend earned a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in International Economics and American Foreign Policy.