Dr. Kimberly Kagan


Kimberly Kagan is the founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War. She is a military historian who has taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Yale, Georgetown, and American University. She is the author of The Eye of Command (2006) and The Surge: a Military History (2009), and editor of The Imperial Moment (2010).  Dr. Kagan has published numerous essays in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post ("The Fall of Ramadi was Avoidable"), Los Angeles Times, Weekly Standard, and Foreign Policy.  She co-produced The Surge: The Whole Story, an hour-long oral history and documentary film on the campaign in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.

Dr. Kagan served in Kabul for seventeen months from 2010 to 2012 working for commanders of the International Security Assistance Force, General David H. Petraeus and subsequently General John Allen. Admiral Mike Mullen, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recognized Dr. Kagan for this deployment as a volunteer with the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor the Chairman can present to civilians who do not work for the Department of Defense.

Dr. Kagan previously served as a member of General Stanley McChrystal’s strategic assessment team, comprised of civilian experts, during his campaign review in June and July 2009.   Dr. Kagan also served on the Academic Advisory Board at the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at CENTCOM.  She conducted many regular battlefield circulations of Iraq between May 2007 and April 2010 while General Petraeus and General Raymond T. Odierno served as the MNF-I Commanding General. She participated formally on the Joint Campaign Plan Assessment Team for Multi-National Force-Iraq - U.S. Mission- Iraq in October 2008 and October 2009, and as part of the Civilian Advisory Team for the CENTCOM strategic review in January 2009.

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Dr. Kagan held an Olin Postdoctoral Fellowship in Military History at Yale International Security Studies in 2004 to 2005 and was a National Security Fellow at Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies in 2002 to 2003. She received a B.A. in Classical Civilization and a Ph.D. in History from Yale University.



Recently from Dr. Kimberly Kagan

  U.S. Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and Al Qaeda

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute conducted an intensive multi-week planning exercise to frame, design, and evaluate potential courses of action that the United States could pursue to destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria. ISW and CTP are publishing the findings of this exercise in multiple reports in a series titled U.S Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al Qaeda. The first report – Al Qaeda and ISIS: Existential Threats to the U.S. and Europe -- describes America’s global grand strategic objectives as they relate to the threat from ISIS and al Qaeda. The second – Competing Visions for Syria and Iraq:  The Myth of an Anti-ISIS Grand Coalition -- defines American strategic objectives in Iraq and Syria, identifies the minimum necessary conditions for ending the conflicts there, and compares U.S. objectives with those of Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia in order to understand actual convergences and divergences. The third report -- Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS:  Sources of Strength -- assesses the strengths and vulnerabilities of ISIS and al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra to serve as the basis for developing a robust and comprehensive strategy to destroy them. Subsequent reports will provide a detailed assessment of the situation on the ground in Syria and present the planning group’s evaluation of several courses of action. 

See the full report series here.