Dr. Rebecca B. Chavez

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Dr. Rebecca Bill Chavez served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs. In this position, she oversaw security strategy and policy issues involving the countries of the hemisphere as well as U.S. government funding of hemispheric defense cooperation programs and the integration of U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command.

Prior to joining OSD Policy, Dr. Chavez was Professor of Political Science with tenure at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Her research has focused on Western hemisphere security and on comparative politics, with an emphasis on the rule of law, democratization, human rights, and Latin American politics. She developed and taught a wide variety of courses, including Western Hemisphere Security, Democratization, Latin American Politics, Comparative Politics, and Transnational Criminal Networks. At the Naval Academy, she served on the Admissions Board and was elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.

Dr. Chavez spent the 2009-2010 academic year at the Pentagon where she served as Principal Strategic Advisor on Western Hemisphere Affairs for OSD Policy. Her primary responsibilities included developing and coordinating a comprehensive defense strategy for the Western Hemisphere, which former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates signed into action in February of 2011. In addition, she was the author of the proposal calling for dedicated funding for military human rights training in Latin America and the Caribbean and of a Strategic Communications Plan for Latin America.

Dr. Chavez served as advisor to the Commander of U.S. Southern Command from 2007 through 2012 during which time she traveled extensively across Latin America with the Combatant Commander to strengthen U.S. defense relations in the region.

Raised in Austin, Texas, Dr. Chavez received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and her A.B. in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. She is the author of The Rule of Law in Nascent Democracies: Judicial Politics in Argentina (Stanford University Press). Her work has appeared in edited volumes and scholarly journals, including Courts in Latin America (Cambridge University Press), The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics, Comparative Politics, Joint Forces Quarterly, The Journal of Latin American Studies, and Latin American Politics and Society.

Dr. Chavez is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the recipient of multiple grants to conduct research in Latin America, including a Fulbright Scholarship.