Michael J. McNerney

Photo of Michael McNerney
Acting Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center; Senior International/Defense Researcher; Affiliate Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


M.A. in international relations, University of Maryland; B.A. in government and German, University of Notre Dame

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Michael McNerney (he/him) is acting director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center, a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, and an affiliate faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research focuses on defense strategy and planning, civil–military coordination, security cooperation, and international relations. He has published over two dozen reports analyzing human behavior and decisionmaking in conflict, U.S. security cooperation, military roles in disaster response, targeted killing policies, and other topics.

Until April 2011, McNerney was principal director for plans in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He and his staff supported the Secretary of Defense in providing strategic guidance on U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and interagency plans, force management, and overseas basing. He was a civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for 17 years and a member of the Senior Executive Service.

His earlier assignments in the Office of the Secretary of Defense included policy support for security cooperation programs worldwide, U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, international environmental issues, nuclear arms control, and defense budgeting. He spent the 2004–05 academic year on the faculty of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

Prior to working in OSD, McNerney worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He received his M.A. in international relations from the University of Maryland and B.A. in government and German from the University of Notre Dame.