Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs
Chidi Blyden is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs.
Ms. Blyden is an expert and socio-cultural advisor on Africa’s conflicts, security, and development issues. She comes to the role with policy, national security, and practitioner experience from her career in government, academia, and non-profit sectors. Her work focuses on the impact of culture in developing policy and community-centric approaches to security challenges in African nations, underscoring the role of women and youth in peace and security.
Ms. Blyden served in the Obama Administration as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs from 2013-2017. She managed several functional and regional responsibilities including U.S.- Africa defense policy for East and Central Africa, served as the Africa Peacekeeping Advisor to the Stability and Humanitarian Affairs office, and was the department's lead on the President’s Africa Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP) initiative. She has received several awards for her time in public service, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.
Ms. Blyden began her career in security studies at the National Defense University’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) as the Senior Academic Research Associate and Academic Operations Coordinator. From 2007-2013 she contributed to the academic curriculum and led the execution of over 30 programs on counterterrorism, defense economics, conflict management, security studies, and civil-military relations for Africa’s security sector professionals. She was the first Africa Director at the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) where she led the design and implementation of culture-specific training for the Nigerian Armed Forces on civilian harm.
Ms. Blyden recently served in Congress on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Policy Team, advising on Africa and South America’s defense equities. She is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, in the Security Studies Program. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University (BSc, Sociology) and the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University (MSc, Conflict, Analysis, and Resolution) and serves on the Leadership Council for Memunatu Magazine, a nonprofit social enterprise that promotes literacy, leadership, and empowerment for teen girls in Africa and the diaspora.