Colin Roberts

Military Fellow
Washington Office


BA in political science, University of Washington; MPM in international policy and development, Georgetown University; Certificate in international affairs, JHU Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)


LCDR Roberts is a native of Everett, Washington and was commissioned from the University of Washington NROTC with a BA in Political Science in May, 2003.

At sea, he served as a division officer in USS MASON (DDG 87), where he deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of OEF and OIF, and USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD 41), where he participated in the 2006 non-combatant evacuation (NEO) from Lebanon and afloat defense and logistics staging for critical oil terminals in the Northern Arabian Gulf. As a department head he served as Operations Officer in USS JOHN S. McCAIN (DDG 56) homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, conducting ballistic missile defense (BMD), carrier strike group air defense, and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) in the Western Pacific, and then as European Operations Officer on the staff of Commander, Task Force 65/Commander, Destroyer Squadron 60 in Naples, Italy, where he led planning and execution of surface maritime operations in BMD, air defense, maritime security, and international naval exercises. He also led planning for various regional contingencies and helped develop the operational employment model for ships homeport-shifting to Spain as part of the new FDNF Europe.

Most recently, he commanded USS ZEPHYR (PC 8), deploying to the Caribbean for counter-narcotics operations with an embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment.

Ashore, he served as a surface warfare tactics analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence and navigation and shiphandling instructor at the Surface Warfare Officer School.

In July 2009 he earned a Master of Policy Management (International Policy and Development) from Georgetown University and a Certificate in International Affairs from the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University.

His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and Navy Achievement Medal.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Lieutenant Commander, US Navy; Federal Executive Fellow


  • The autonomous ship "Sea Hunter" is shown docked in Portland, Oregon before its christening ceremony April 7, 2016

    Killer Robots: Moral Concerns vs. Military Advantages

    The U.S. military should balance Americans' ethical concerns over computers making life and death decisions with the need to maintain an edge in the face of rapid advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning across the globe.

    Nov 4, 2016 The National Interest