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Lisa C. Sawyer

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy & Special Coordinator for Afghanistan


Lisa C. Sawyer is dual-hatted as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for European and NATO Policy and Special Coordinator for Afghanistan. In the former role, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day defense relationship between the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union, and the nations of Europe. She also supports the Secretary of Defense by developing and implementing security strategies in Europe and deepening defense cooperation with over 40 countries.

As the Special Coordinator for Afghanistan, Ms. Sawyer reports directly to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy on all defense policy matters involving Afghanistan. The Office of the Special Coordinator for Afghanistan (OSCA) was established in April 2023 and acts as the official Department of Defense (DoD) liaison to the Congressionally-mandated Afghanistan War Commission. She brings to these roles extensive foreign policy and national security experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Ms. Sawyer returns to DoD from the White House, where she served as special advisor to the Vice President on all matters related to Europe, Russia, and defense; including policy deliberations around Russia's invasion of Ukraine, engagements with foreign heads of state and government, and initiatives aimed at strengthening transatlantic relations.

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Ms. Sawyer was vice president for international policy at JPMorgan Chase, where she managed a global portfolio with an emphasis on Europe, China, and the Middle East. From 2015-2017, she was a senior fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) with a focus on defense strategy and European security.

During the Obama Administration, Ms. Sawyer served on the National Security Council (NSC) staff as director for NATO and European strategic affairs, where she led the U.S. government’s preparations for the NATO Summit in Wales and managed the development of plans and force posture adjustments to enhance readiness and reassure allies following Russia’s 2014 aggression in Ukraine.

She has also previously served at DoD as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA), NATO Policy Adviser, and Director for North Africa throughout the Arab Spring. Ms. Sawyer received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service for her contributions during the 2011 military intervention in Libya. She began her career as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and has served at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul and at NATO headquarters in Brussels, among other assignments.

Ms. Sawyer has testified on European security policy before committees in the House and Senate and her analysis has been featured in major news outlets such as the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, MSNBC, and others. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Baylor University with a B.A. in international studies and holds an M.A. in international affairs from George Washington University.