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Michèle Flournoy

Michèle Flournoy

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs



Michèle Flournoy is a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She is also Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

She served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from February 2009 to February 2012.  She was the principal adviser to the Secretary of Defense in the formulation of national security and defense policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and in National Security Council deliberations. She led the development of DoD’s 2012 Strategic Guidance and represented the Department in dozens of foreign engagements, in the media and before Congress.

Prior to confirmation, Ms. Flournoy co-led President Obama’s transition team at DoD.

In January 2007, Ms. Flournoy co-founded CNAS, a non-partisan think tank dedicated to developing strong, pragmatic and principled national security policies. She served as CNAS’ President until 2009.

Previously, she was senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for several years and, prior to that, a distinguished research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University (NDU).

In the mid-1990s, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy. She has received several awards from the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Ms. Flournoy is a member of the Defense Policy Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Aspen Strategy Group. She serves on the boards of The Mitre Corporation, Rolls Royce North America, Amida Technology Solutions and The Mission Continues, and is a Senior Advisor at the Boston Consulting Group.

Ms. Flournoy earned a bachelor's degree in social studies from Harvard University and a master's degree in international relations from Balliol College, Oxford University, where she was a Newton-Tatum scholar.



By Date



U.S. Department of Defense

July 7, 2013

"The Smart-Shopping Way to Cut Defense Spending"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Michèle Flournoy, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

With more than a decade of war coming to a close and the U.S. government facing daunting fiscal challenges, the defense budget is on the chopping block. Without a budget deal that addresses tax and entitlement reforms, defense spending will play a disproportionately large role in getting the nation's economic house in order. The 2011 Budget Control Act mandated that the Defense Department cut nearly $500 billion over the next decade and crafted the sequestration straitjacket now binding the Pentagon.



AP Images

March 21, 2013

"Kandahar and hope"

Op-Ed, Politico

By Michèle Flournoy, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Michael O'Hanlon

Kandahar. Ancient crossroads of Central Asia. Home province of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and the site from which Osama bin Laden began to prepare the Sept. 11 attacks. Epicenter of the fight pitting Afghan and NATO forces against the Taliban over the past dozen years. Region where patronage networks led by the likes of the late Ahmed Wali Karzai, together with centuries-old tribal rivalries, have greatly complicated our counterinsurgency campaign and efforts to help Afghans establish good, or at least better, governance.



AP Images

February 4, 2013

"The Right Way to Cut Pentagon Spending"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Michèle Flournoy, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Whether or not Congress avoids sequestration by March 1, defense spending will likely be cut by at least 10% over the next decade. As 20% of the federal budget and 50% of discretionary spending, it will be part of any longer-term budget deal.



AP Photo

August 23, 2012

Reforming outmoded government

Op-Ed, Washington Post

By Michèle Flournoy, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

"As the United States peers into the abyss beyond the 'fiscal cliff,' we must come to terms with a sobering reality: Even if Congress manages to take last-minute action to avoid a 'Thelma and Louise' moment for the country, the road ahead could still lead to catastrophe if we fail to navigate well. Unfortunately, if our past behavior is any guide, we risk taking several wrong turns."



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