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Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies

AJDSS Volume 1 Issue 1

Reflections on an American seer: Andrew W. Marshall and the mind of the strategist

Michael Evans

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Andrew Marshall, legendary former Director of Net Assessment (ONA) in the United States (US) Department of Defence, died on 26 March 2019 at the age of ninety-seven in Arlington, Virginia. In this reflection on his long career, Professor Michael Evans looks at the impact Marshall made from his early career at RAND to building the ONA from 1973 until 2015 - from Nixon to Obama - into a bastion of intellectual activity in a vast Pentagon bureaucracy, where all too often innovation was the prey of bureaucratic fads, inter-service politics and election cycles. In the process, the ONA director became not only an architect of official strategy but a mentor to two generations of American defence analysts, ensuring that the US strategic studies community renewed itself by continuously fostering younger talent and new ideas.

Rarely in the history of any modern defence organisation has one man been so invisible and yet so intellectually influential for so long. Outside of specialist defence circles, Marshall remains a largely unknown figure or as some Western strategists are wont to remark, 'the most influential man you have never heard of'.

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