Dr. Kimberly Kagan



Kimberly Kagan is the founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a nonprofit, non-partisan organization with a unique, dual mission: provide real-time intelligence to help leaders make informed decisions in conflict zones around the world, and educate the next generation of national security leaders. ISW is globally recognized and cited for its daily analysis and maps of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dr. Kagan is a military historian who has taught at the US 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). She has published in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, 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. She co-founded and co-teaches the Hertog War Studies Program at ISW, a highly selective, intensive, longitudinal educational program for undergraduates.

Dr. Kagan is an expert on the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. She served in Kabul for seventeen months from 2010 to 2012 assisting 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 civilian 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 had previously served as a member of General Stanley McChrystal’s strategic assessment team in Kabul during his campaign review in June and July 2009. She served on the Academic Advisory Board of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at USCENTCOM.

In Iraq, Dr. Kagan conducted many regular battlefield circulations between May 2007 and April 2010 while General Petraeus and his successor General Raymond T. Odierno served as Commanding General, Multi-National Force Iraq (MNF-I). She participated formally on the Joint Campaign Plan Assessment Team for MNFI - US Mission- Iraq in October 2008 and October 2009, and as part of the Civilian Advisory Team for the CENTCOM strategic review in January 2009. 

Dr. Kagan has subsequently served on expert working groups and commissions, including the congressionally appointed bipartisan, twelve-member Syria Study Group (SSG) in 2018-2019, the expert group for the Afghanistan Peace Plan Study Group, and the expert Defense Panel for the Special Competitive Studies Project. She is also recognized as an innovator in national security. She received a Fed100 award recognizing ISW’s contributions to open-source intelligence on the Ukraine conflict.

She received her B.A. in Classical Civilization and Ph.D. in Military History at Yale University, was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Humanistic Studies, and held Olin postdoctoral fellowships in strategic studies at both Harvard and Yale.