- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Gen. Dunford Shares Insights With National Security Fellows

| Fall 2021

Featured in the Fall 2021 Newsletter »

Gen. Dunford with the National Security Fellows on stairs.

Every other Tuesday, early in the morning and no matter the weather, you can usually spot 17 National Security Fellows (NSFs) making their way from different parts of Boston to a Belfer Center third-floor conference room in Cambridge . They come from all military services, the Coast Guard, Office of the Secretary of Defense, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office. Their research at the Center this year covers a broad range of national security issues from governance and corruption in multiethnic societies to defense technology, artificial intelligence, and space capabilities. They are as different as their professional backgrounds suggest, but on these Tuesday mornings they are united by their eagerness to hear directly from one of the most disciplined military thinkers of our time - General Joseph F. Dunford (ret.).

General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. hails from South Boston and the Quincy area. After 42 years of highly distinguished military service, Dunford is now a resident Senior Fellow with Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. It is in this role that Dunford instructs the NSFs in how senior military leaders approach (or “frame”) problems, assess options, and make recommendations to civilian leadership. He does this almost entirely through relating observations—in precise detail, at times—and drawing lessons from his own experience. He refuses to lecture and can often be heard asking: “You tell me, do I have that right?” At one recent early morning session, Dunford effortlessly outlined Moscow’s security goals, recounted Russian behavior over the last three decades, and then isolated the military problem for the United States. At another session, he discussed the national security significance of Afghanistan. 

The retired general most recently served as the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), the nation’s highest-ranking military officer. As the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council from 2015 to 2019, he was roundly regarded as a transformational leader. The somewhat reserved but also imposing Marine is known to the NSFs as calm, measured, and contemplative. He believes in what he likes to call “fact-based discussion” and freely gives his time to the Fellows who want to meet with him one-on-one.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

General Dunford Shares Insights With National Security Fellows." Belfer Center Newsletter. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. (Fall 2021)

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