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Andrew Marshall

14 - Andrew Marshall
2012 Rank: 10

Director, DoD Office of Net Assessment
Marshall has been one of America’s most revered and influential defense intellectuals, but a DoD facing steep budget cuts is folding the office he’s run for 40 years back into the Pentagon’s policy organization instead of reporting directly to the defense secretary. Critics say it will dilute ONA’s influence, but the ever-loyal Marshall supports the move (his office spent two decades in policy until Donald Rumsfeld returned it to direct report status). At age 92, Marshall still reports to work daily, but confidants say he’s again hinting at retirement. His vast alumni network, known as St. Andrew’s Prep, is focused on ensuring the survival of net assessment as a key Pentagon function, defined by DoD as “the comparative analysis of military, technological, political, economic and other factors governing the relative military capability of nations ... to identify problems and opportunities that deserve the attention of senior defense officials.” The essence, however, is diagnosing near-, mid- and long-term challenges, not necessarily prescribing solutions. Indeed, one of Marshall’s maxims is: Getting the right answer depends on asking the right question. Marshall helped invent and define the field of net assessment to allow every administration since Nixon’s to better understand the nature of military competition with its adversaries and suggest ways to stay ahead or beat them. His legions of acolytes will ensure Marshall’s influence spans for many more generations. He is best known for trying to assess “unthinkable” scenarios few others are willing to tackle, and focus on emerging threats. And even at his advanced age he remains a shrewd judge of talent, mentoring, among others, Michael Vickers (No. 8), former Navy Undersecretary Robert Work (No. 34), Andrew Krepinevich (No. 82), Eliot Cohen, strategists Tom Ehrhard and Barry Watts, former Air Force Secretary Jim Roche, Gen. Paul Selva (No. 99), as well as DDR&E special adviser Jaymie Durnan. Jamie Morin (No. 35) worked indirectly for Marshall at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

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