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Dr. Colin H. Kahl

Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy


Dr. Colin H. Kahl was the  Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy on April 28, 2021.  In this role, he is the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense for defense policy and leads the formulation and coordination of national security policy within the Department of Defense.  Dr. Kahl ensures the integration of defense policies and plans to achieve desired objectives.  He is responsible for efforts to build partnerships and defense cooperation with U.S. friends and allies. 

Dr. Kahl was most recently the co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, the inaugural Steven C. Házy Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and a Professor, by courtesy, in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University.

He served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President from October 2014 to January 2017 where he advised President Obama and Vice President Biden on all matters related to U.S. foreign policy and national security affairs, and represented the Office of the Vice President as a standing member of the National Security Council Deputies’ Committee.  Dr. Kahl has formerly served in the Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. In this capacity, he was the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, and six other countries in the Levant and Persian Gulf region. In June 2011, he was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service by Secretary Robert Gates. 

Dr. Kahl was previously an assistant and associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.  He served as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he worked on issues related to counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and responses to failed states.

Dr. Kahl received his B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan (1993) and his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University (2000).