Daniel M. Gerstein

Washington Office

Education

Ph.D. in biodefense, George Mason University; M.S. in national security, National Defense University; M.M.A.S. in national security strategy, U.S. Army Command & General Staff College; M.S. in operations research, Georgia Institute of Technology; B.S. in engineering, United States Military Academy

Overview

Daniel M. Gerstein is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Previously, he served at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as Under Secretary (Acting) and Deputy Under Secretary in the Science & Technology Directorate. He has extensive experience in security and defense while serving as a Senior Executive Service (SES) government civilian, in uniform, and in industry. He is also an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, D.C. In DHS S&T, he managed the directorate's $1-billion budget and spearheaded several cross-departmental efforts in big data, cybersecurity, and biodefense. Gerstein began his professional career in the U.S. Army, serving on four continents, participating in combat, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, counterterrorism, and homeland security. Following retirement from active duty, he joined L-3 Corporation as Vice President for Homeland Security Services. Before joining DHS, Gerstein was the Principal Director for Countering WMD in OSD (Policy). He also served on the Holbrooke Delegation that negotiated the peace settlement in Bosnia, established SOUTHCOM's cybersecurity facility following 9/11, developed a biosurveillance system for DoD, and led the Army's most comprehensive restructuring since WWII. He has been awarded many foreign, military, and civilian awards, including the U.S. Army Soldiers Medal for heroism. He has published many books and articles on national security topics and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Gerstein graduated from West Point and has master's degrees from Georgia Tech, National Defense University, and Army Command & General Staff College, and a Ph.D. from George Mason University.

Selected Publications

Daniel M. Gerstein, National Security and Arms Control in the Age of Biotechnology: The Biological Weapons Convention, Rowman and Littlefield, 2013

Daniel M. Gerstein, Bioterror in the 21st Century, Naval Institute Press, 2009

Daniel M. Gerstein and Perry Smith, Assignment Pentagon, Potomac Books, 2007

Daniel M. Gerstein, ICMA Report: Planning for a Pandemic, ICMA Press, 2007

Daniel M. Gerstein, Leading at the Speed of Light, Potgomac Books, 2006

Daniel M. Gerstein, Securing America's Future: National Strategy in the Information Age, Praeger Security International, 2005

Daniel M. Gerstein, Conventional Arms Control Study, U.S. Army Concepts Analysis Agency, 1988

Daniel M. Gerstein, Ultra-Fast Sealift Study, U.S. Army Concepts Analysis Agency, 1987

Commentary

  • A rescue boat evacuates people from the rising waters of Buffalo Bayou following Hurricane Harvey in a neighborhood west of Houston, Texas, August 30, 2017

    Rethinking Disaster Evacuation

    Before a storm hits, officials must decide whether to evacuate the public or advise them to shelter in place. Other, more targeted choices — such as sheltering in safer locations within a city — could be available if an analytic basis for making such judgments were fully developed.

    Sep 11, 2017 Domestic Preparedness Journal

  • People walk in front of a monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 10, 2017

    How Did North Korea Get Its Nuclear Capabilities So Far So Fast?

    The recent North Korean missile tests and other provocations have sent shock waves through the global national security community and heightened tensions throughout the region. How has North Korea increased its missile capabilities so dramatically in such a short period of time?

    Aug 14, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • Suitcase with microbiological weapon

    A Countering Bioterrorism Facility Worth a Second Look

    President Trump's proposed budget would close a laboratory dedicated to countering bioterrorism and providing the science behind bioterrorism response and recovery. Policymakers should assess whether the lab's capabilities are worth the price when weighed against the potential cost of a bioterror attack.

    Jun 7, 2017 The Hill

  • A young man is frustrated by the WannaCry ransomware attack

    WannaCry Virus: A Lesson in Global Unpreparedness

    The WannaCry ransomware attack provides important lessons about how to secure cyber networks. History indicates that other attacks will follow. Preparedness is crucial.

    May 22, 2017 The National Interest

  • In an interview with Russian state television on September 12, 2013, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said Damascus would send documents to the United Nations needed to join a convention that prohibits chemical weapons

    Regional Action Needed to Prevent Syrian Chemical Attacks

    Action must be taken to deter future use of chemical weapons. Regional leaders could call for the International Criminal Court to indict Assad for war crimes. Also, borders with Syria could be sealed to prevent any of the remaining stocks from leaving the country.

    May 8, 2017 The Arab Weekly

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to people attending a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017.

    China's Role in Dissuading North Korea from a Chemical Weapons Attack

    North Korea's brash pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and disregard for chemical weapons norms are enormously troubling. China's engagement will be essential in convincing Kim Jong Un that the use of chemical weapons is a red line that cannot be crossed.

    Apr 24, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov (right) attends a meeting on Syria at U.N. headquarters in New York City, April 5, 2017

    Why the Syria Chemical Attack Is a Big Problem for Putin

    The growing use of chemicals and toxins as tools of assassination and terrorism are troubling trends. Global expressions of outrage over the latest attack in Syria could weaken Assad’s international support. Russia should listen and abandon its support for the regime while joining the international chorus of denunciation.

    Apr 6, 2017 Fortune

  • Armed police officers stand at the Carriage Gates entrance to the Houses of Parliament, following the attack in Westminster earlier in the week, in London, Britain March 25, 2017

    Two Very Different Views of Terrorism and What to Do About Them

    Does the public want fewer government initiatives aimed at fighting terrorism, or more? The answer could lie in the type of attack involved as well as in individual perceptions of risk and how much inconvenience people are willing to accept in the name of public safety.

    Apr 6, 2017 The National Interest

  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster after making the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, February 20, 2017

    A More Public National Security Strategy Discussion

    President Trump has proposed an increase of $54 billion in defense spending, about 10 percent more than the current budget. But what is the national security strategy that supports this reallocation of resources? A comprehensive discussion of threats to U.S. interests and strategies to address them is in order.

    Mar 7, 2017 RealClearDefense

  • U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force special forces personnel participate in a training exercise at Naval Station Pascagoula, Mississippi, October 26, 2016

    The Mission to Counter WMD: Avoiding Missteps While Transitioning Responsibility

    U.S. Special Operations Command will soon lead the Pentagon's anti-WMD efforts. SOCOM is well positioned to contain and reduce threats, but will need new expertise to prevent the acquisition of related material and respond to crises.

    Feb 10, 2017 Defense One

  • Retired General John Kelly arrives to testify before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, January 10, 2017

    Kelly as DHS Chief Should Focus on Improving Employee Morale

    Building the morale of the Department of Homeland Security workforce should be a priority of the incoming leadership team. Strong communication with career employees, team building, and demonstrating respect for work that has already been done is needed.

    Jan 13, 2017 The Hill

  • President Barack Obama meets with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, September 10, 2014

    Presidential Policy Directive 1: Forming the National Security Council

    If precedent holds, the National Security Council will be defined in the first policy directive that President Trump signs in the early weeks of his administration. Several important questions should be considered.

    Dec 5, 2016 The Hill

  • The blast furnaces at the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill remain standing in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2016

    America's Shifting Labor Market in a Technology-Driven World

    Making America competitive in a transitioning market will require examining future labor market requirements. Workforce development programs that target building labor capacity for a new economy will be essential.

    Nov 25, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. President Barack Obama chairs the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit, focusing on the Counter-ISIL campaign, in Washington, April 1, 2016

    Protect Nuclear Nonproliferation Norms

    Strong and viable global nuclear nonproliferation norms should remain a cornerstone of U.S. security now and into the future. Friends and allies must continue to have confidence in the U.S. strategic nuclear guarantees.

    Oct 9, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • A DNA sequence displayed on a computer screen and a scientist in a laboratory

    Can the Bioweapons Convention Survive Crispr?

    Crispr is a biotechnology that's making genetic editing easier, cheaper, and far more accessible, but it has also been called a major security threat. Do such advances in biotechnology make the bioweapons convention obsolete?

    Jul 29, 2016 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

  • A common mosquito

    How to Handle the Infectious Diseases Threat

    The reactive approach to emerging infectious disease should be augmented with an anticipatory model that accounts for the dramatic changes occurring through globalization, greater interactions between human and zoonotic populations, and changes to the environment and climate patterns.

    Jun 3, 2016 CNN

  • Unaccompanied minors and a family stand next to Honduran border policemen after being detained at a porous border known as La Montanita, on the border of Honduras with Guatemala, June 20, 2014

    Understanding and Addressing the Unaccompanied Minor Immigration Issue

    The number of unaccompanied child immigrants apprehended at the U.S. southwest border is on the rise again, the majority of them coming not from Mexico, but from Central America. Research could provide valuable information to policymakers as they try to find ways to help young immigrants.

    Apr 22, 2016 The Hill

  • Artist Ana Teresa Fernandez and members of cultural organization Border/Arte paint the fence between Mexico and the U.S. to give it the illusion of transparency in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, April 9, 2016

    Walls Won't Keep Us Safe

    Experience along the U.S. southern border demonstrates that even with fortifications, a wall provides only modest capacity to stop illegal crossings. More emphasis should be placed on expanding border security beyond the physical dimension.

    Apr 15, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • An NYPD officer stands across the street from the Apple Store on 5th Ave. in New York, March 11, 2016

    The False Choice at the Core of the Apple-FBI Standoff

    The Apple-FBI case should spark a broader debate among technology companies concerning their role in maintaining the privacy and security balance. A starting point should be to recognize that the majority of cyberattacks are related to phishing—and a user's action—not to whether a device can be secured.

    Mar 21, 2016 The National Interest

  • German police found traces of radiation in Hamburg locations linked to a Russian businessman who had met the murdered ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko on the day he fell ill

    Russia on the Horns of a Nuclear Dilemma

    While the murder of Alexander Litvinenko is a human tragedy, broader concerns about the lowering of WMD norms and violations of international law should be addressed. The use of radioactive matter to kill him represents a serious breach of international agreements.

    Feb 19, 2016 Foreign Policy Concepts

  • Marina Litvinenko, widow of murdered ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, poses with a copy of The Litvinenko Inquiry Report with her son Anatoly during a news conference in London, Britain, January 21, 2016

    Troubling Truth Beneath Litvinenko Headlines

    Slipping radioactive material into a spy's tea in the middle of London may not sound like a CBRN attack, but it is, as the Owen report has confirmed. Hopefully, the report's release will help focus global attention on the growing threat posed by these devastating weapons.

    Jan 21, 2016 CNN

  • A demonstration on infectious disease identification and treatment from the Benin Armed Force in Contonou, Benin, January 2013

    Countering Bioterror

    While advances in biotechnology have brought a wide range of benefits, biological weapons are now within the reach of many rogue nations and possibly some terrorist groups. Reports show that the U.S. is ill prepared to address this threat.

    Jan 18, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter stands with Col. Otto Liller as he is greeted by Iraqi Major General Falah al Mohamedawi (L) at the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service Academy in Baghdad, July 23, 2015

    Solving the Geometrical Problem of Terrorism

    Think of terror organizations as being composed of four elements, organized in concentric circles with the leaders at the center bull's eye, operational elements in the second ring, supporters in the third, and sympathizers in the fourth. Neutralizing each group will require different strategies.

    Jan 13, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • Two Oregon Army National Guard members make notes from the edge of the blast zone after a simulated dirty bomb detonated during an exercise in Portland, October 16, 2007

    The U.S. Needs to Exercise Leadership at the Biological Weapons Convention

    The world is one rogue microbiologist away from a potentially devastating biological attack. In this new, evolving environment, the United States should establish its goals and objectives and build coalitions to help meet them.

    Dec 28, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Protesters from the online activist group Anonymous

    Anonymous vs. ISIS: Wishing the Vigilante Hackers Luck Against the Murderous Jihadists

    While ISIL uses the Internet to recruit fighters and incite violence, the Anonymous counter initiative could lower the volume of the online echo chamber, and yield support for the war against ISIL and its extremist ilk.

    Dec 14, 2015 New York Daily News

  • The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen as flags fly at half staff at the Washington Monument, November 16, 2015

    Time to Prepare for the Unthinkable

    Given ISIS's strategy, it seems only a matter of time before these extremists might attempt an attack in the United States. The irony is that the very rights that Americans hold so dear (liberty, privacy, freedom) place it at greater risk. So what should America do to prepare?

    Nov 16, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • A U.S. Air Force airman works at the 561st Network Operations Squadron, which executes defensive cyber operations

    The Two Sides of Cybersecurity

    Securing government networks is certainly necessary, but authorities should not lose sight of the need to couple their defense of America's networks with appropriate resources dedicated to combatting criminal, terrorist, and other threats in cyberspace.

    Nov 13, 2015 GlobalSecurity.org

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands following a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington September 25, 2015

    Define Acceptable Cyberspace Behavior

    While a U.S.-China cyberspace agreement is a welcome step, it also underscores the greater issues facing the United States and the international community in this largely ungoverned space. A precondition for securing U.S. networks should be the development of an overarching cyber doctrine that defines acceptable behavior and allows the U.S. to defend its networks against threats.

    Sep 27, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • A woman grieves near the grave of a relative who was a victim of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, at the Potocari Memorial Center and Cemetery, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    20 Years Later, the Lessons of Bosnia-Herzegovina

    U.S. intervention in Bosnia ended the fighting, bought time for a political solution to be reached, and halted the humanitarian crisis. But 20 years later, the prospects for lasting peace and a true multiethnic society to emerge in Bosnia are not encouraging.

    Aug 19, 2015 FOX News Channel

  • Medicins Sans Frontieres health workers disinfect protection clothes and boots outside the isolation unit at ELWA hospital in Monrovia August 23, 2014

    Ebola and Syria's Chemical Weapons Show U.S. Can Leave Nothing to Chance

    There are key takeaways from the Ebola outbreak, Syria's chemical weapons, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The U.S. and its international partners should view these events as learning opportunities that could help improve preparedness and response capabilities before the next crisis strikes.

    Jul 9, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Immigration law book, gavel, legal document, and a passport

    The Forgotten Cornerstone in the Immigration Reform Debate

    The Executive Office for Immigration Review manages the U.S. immigration court system and thereby plays a pivotal role in assuring the timely processing of foreign nationals and the security of the nation and its borders. It should not be left out of discussions of immigration reform.

    Apr 30, 2015 The Hill

  • Hand touching tablet behind social media diagram and map

    The Clash of Internet Civilizations: Why Neither Side Should Prevail

    The debate over net neutrality pits two opposing philosophies against each other — one pushing for the continued evolution of the Internet as an open information superhighway, the other asserting that the Internet's evolution needs to take more account of the many ways it is and will be used.

    Apr 10, 2015 Government Technology

  • Soldiers at Suwon Air Base, South Korea, finish a comprehensive air defense artillery field training exercise

    To Know the Future of Biological Weapons, Look to the Past

    A panel chaired by former Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Gov. Tom Ridge will review U.S. policy on biodefense. Looking back to the end of the U.S. offensive biological warfare program would provide valuable lessons.

    Apr 10, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Illustration of idea, solution, and money

    Managing Technology in an Unmanageable World

    The need for purposeful and focused R&D in the U.S. has never been greater, but technology is advancing so quickly that the structures available to manage it have not kept pace. A comprehensive examination of the technological landscape is needed to help the government take a more holistic approach to investing in and regulating technologies.

    Feb 19, 2015 The Hill

  • U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson speaks at Los Angeles International Airport in California, February 20, 2014

    Go Back to Basics to Reform Homeland Security

    The Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986 made the broadest and most sweeping changes to the Pentagon since its establishment in 1947. With the Department of Homeland Security in a similar state just over a decade after its hurried creation, it's time for DHS to have a Goldwater-Nichols of its own.

    Jan 28, 2015 Politico

  • Health workers don protective gear before entering an Ebola quarantine zone at a Red Cross facility in Koidu, Sierra Leone, December 19, 2014

    What Have We Learned from the Ebola Outbreak?

    For much of 2014, the world has confronted the most deadly Ebola outbreak since the discovery of the disease in 1976. What lessons have emerged? What should the world do to better prepare for transnational outbreaks?

    Dec 31, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

Publications