Michael O'Hanlon

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Michael O'Hanlon is Senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in U.S. defense strategy, the use of military force, homeland security and American foreign policy. He is Director of Research in Foreign Policy and 21st Century Defense Initiative, and holds the Sydney Stein, Jr. Chair.

He is a member of the State Department's International Security Advisory Board, United States Department of State and of the advisory council, Center for a New American Security, and is a visiting lecturer at Princeton University. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations.


In May 2009, he coauthored a Brookings study on how to assess the progress in counterinsurgency and peace operations.

One is that the current Afghanistan strategy of the Obama administration is rightly focused on population

security—and, more generally, improving the lives of normal citizens—as well as Afghan institution building. Moreover, because absolute levels of violence in Afghanistan are far less severe than they were until recently in Iraq, or many other countries engulfed by civil war, there may be time to pursue this strategy without seeing the country ripped apart in the meantime. However, we also conclude that it may take well into 2010 to see if this generally sound strategy is actually working—especially since the resources being devoted to the task are at the lower end of what such missions have generally

required to be successful.[1]

He has written sympathetically of the problems faced by commanders in the [[Afghanistan War (2001-), describing GEN Stanley McChrystal's public positions as reasonable concern for his troops. [2] Of the removal of GEN David McKiernan, [3] he said "Basically, McKiernan did a good job, but they need someone that they think can do an excellent job. In normal times, that would not be reason enough to relieve a four-star [general]. But, of course, these aren't ordinary times."

With Jane Harman, he wrote that additional troops to Afghanistan had to be tied to Afghan government progress on reducing corruption.[4] They see corruption, specifically including fraud in the 2009 Afghanistan presidential election, as the most serious issue facing effective governance there.

Previous career


  • Ph.D. (1991), M.A. (1988), M.S.E. (1987), A.B. (1982), Princeton University


  1. Jason Campbell, Michael O'Hanlon, Jeremy Shapiro (May 2009), Assessing Counterinsurgency and Stabilization Missions: U.S. Military, Defense Strategy, Afghanistan, Iraq, Transnational Security Threats, Brookings Institution, Foreign Policy Paper 14
  2. Michael O'Hanlon (6 October 2009), "A General Within Bounds", Washington Post
  3. "Sympathy for McKiernan Among Officers", Washington Post, May 12, 2009
  4. Michael O'Hanlon, Jane Harman (23 September 2009), "Tie Troops to Progress on Afghanistan’s Corruption", Financial Times