General John R. Allen

President of the Brookings Institution and Former Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL

Michèle Flournoy

Co-Founder and CEO of the Center for New American Security and Former Under Secretary for Defense Policy

David Sanger

National Security Correspondent for The New York Times

U.S. National Security Challenges in the Trump Era

About the Speaker

General John R. Allen

President of the Brookings Institution and Former Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL

John Rutherford Allen assumed the presidency of the Brookings Institution in November 2017, having most recently served as chair of security and strategy and a distinguished fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. Allen is a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.

Allen served in two senior diplomatic roles following his retirement from the Marine Corps. First, for 15 months as senior advisor to the secretary of defense on Middle East Security, during which he led the security dialogue for the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. President Barack Obama then appointed Allen as special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, a position he held for 15 months. Allen’s diplomatic efforts grew the coalition to 65 members, effectively halting the expansion of ISIL. In recognition of this work, he was presented the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award by Secretary John Kerry and the Director of National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Award by Director James Clapper.

During his nearly four-decade military career, Allen served in a variety of command and staff positions in the Marine Corps and the Joint Force. He commanded 150,000 U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from July 2011 to February 2013. Allen is the first Marine to command a theater of war. During his tenure as ISAF commander, he recovered the 33,000 U.S. surge forces, moved the Afghan National Security Forces into the lead for combat operations, and pivoted NATO forces from being a conventional combat force into an advisory command.

Allen’s first tour as a general officer was as the principal director of Asia-Pacific policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a position he held for nearly three years. In this assignment, he was involved extensively with policy initiatives involving China, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Southeast Asia. Allen also participated in the Six Party Talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and played a major role in organizing the relief effort during the South Asian tsunami from 2004 to 2005.

Beyond his operational and diplomatic credentials, Allen has led professional military educational programs, including as director of the Marine Infantry Officer Program and commanding officer of the Marine Corps Basic School. He twice served at the United States Naval Academy, first as a military instructor, where he was named instructor of the year in 1990, and later as commandant of midshipmen; the first Marine Corps officer to hold this position. Allen was the Marine Corps fellow to the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the first Marine officer to serve as a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where today he is a permanent member.

Among his other affiliations, Allen is a senior fellow at the Merrill Center of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. He is an “Ancien” of the NATO Defense College in Rome, and a frequent lecturer there.

Allen is the recipient of numerous U.S. and foreign awards.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in operations analysis from the U.S. Naval Academy, a Master of Arts in national security studies from Georgetown University, a Master of Science in strategic intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College, and a Master of Science in national security strategy from the National Defense University.

Michéle Flournoy

Co-founder and CEO of the Center for New American Security and Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Michèle Flournoy Michèle Flournoy is the cofounder and chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, which engages in research and analysis related to national security and defense policy.                                                   

Ms. Flournoy served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2009 to 2012.  In that capacity, she was the principal adviser to the Secretary of Defense on national security and defense policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and National Security Council deliberations. She led the development of the 2012 Strategic Guidance for the Department of Defense and represented the department in dozens of foreign and media engagements and before Congress. At the time of her confirmation, Ms. Flournoy was the highest ranking woman ever to serve at the Pentagon.  

Ms. Flournoy has also worked as senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and as a distinguished research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. During the Clinton administration she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy.

Ms. Flournoy is a member of the Defense Policy Board, Council on Foreign Relations, and Aspen Strategy Group, senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and senior advisor at the Boston Consulting Group. She serves on the boards of the Mitre Corporation, CSRA, Amida Technology Solutions, The Mission Continues, Spirit of America, and CARE.

Ms. Flournoy was awarded a B.A. in social studies from Harvard University and a M.A. in international relations from Balliol College, Oxford University.


David Sanger

National Security Correspondent at the New York Times

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and National Security Correspondent for The New York Times David E. Sanger writes compelling analyses and investigative articles that explain the complex events of our time. A member of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning team in international reporting, Sanger is one of the nation’s most lucid analysts of geopolitics, globalization and cyber power. A National Security and Political Contributor for CNN, Sanger’s articulate style has made him a frequent guest on Charlie Rose and other PBS shows.

Sanger's national bestseller, Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, is a riveting analysis of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, including its covert reliance on cyberwarfare, drones, and special operations forces. The book sent shockwaves around the globe. Foreign Affairs called it an “astonishingly revealing insider’s account.”

His previous bestseller, The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power, is an in-depth examination of American foreign policy successes and failures. TIME called it a "behind-the-scenes account...laced with scoops and secret conversations about a world spinning out of America's control."

A 30-year veteran of The New York Times, Sanger’s coverage of the Iraq and Korea crises took home the Weintal Prize, one of the highest honors for diplomatic reporting. He also won the White House Correspondents’ Association Aldo Beckman prize for his presidential coverage. His years as a foreign correspondent have given him a unique view into the rise of Asia, nuclear proliferation, global competition, and a volatile Middle East.

Early in his career, Sanger covered technology and economics, before turning to foreign policy. Over the years, he has focused on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, the rise and fall of Japan, and China’s increasing power and influence. Later, he covered domestic and foreign policy issues as the Times’ White House correspondent from 1999 to 2006 and the NSA and cybersecurity as the current National Security Correspondent. 

He is a featured journalist in Alex Gibney's 2016 docu-thriller, Zero Days, based largely on Sanger’s investigation of the secret American and Israeli cyber program to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Sanger teaches national security policy as a visiting scholar and adjunct professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.