Dr. Mara E. Karlin Biography: A Leading Voice in Defense Policy

About Dr. Mara E. Karlin Performing the Duties of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Name Mara E. Karlin
Title Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategies, Plans, and Capabilities
Start Date August 17, 2021
Responsibilities
Advising the Secretary of Defense and other senior defense leaders on national security and defense strategy; the forces, contingency plans, and associated posture necessary to implement the defense strategy; emerging capabilities; and security cooperation plans and policies, to include strategy and policy for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Prior Experience
Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; Director of Strategic Studies and an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; served in national security roles for five U.S. secretaries of defense
Education
Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University; MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University; BA in Political Science from Yale University
Awards Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award
Books
“Hybrid Warfare: Fighting Complex Opponents from the Cold War to the Present” and “The War on Terror: A Military and Political History”

Dr. Mara E. Karlin’s Biography

Dr. Mara Karlin currently holds the position of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Before this, she was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategies, Plans, and Capabilities on August 17, 2021.

In this capacity, she advised top defense leaders, including the Secretary of Defense, on matters of national security and defense strategy.

Her responsibilities included formulating plans for defense forces, contingency strategies, emerging capabilities, and security cooperation plans. She ensured that the Department of Defense’s program and budget decisions aligned with the strategic direction set by senior leaders.

Previously, Dr. Karlin acted as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. In this role, she managed the Department’s relationships with various regions, including Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Eurasia, and the Western Hemisphere.

Her extensive background includes being part of the policy team during the Biden-Harris Transition, holding positions at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the Brookings Institution, and contributing to national security efforts under multiple U.S. secretaries of defense.

Her government career began in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and she received recognition for her service with the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award. Additionally, Dr. Karlin is a respected author with two books focusing on defense policy and military history.

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