Jonathan P. Wong

Photo of Jonathan Wong
Associate Director, Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, RAND Arroyo Center; Policy Researcher; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in policy analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School; M.Phil in policy analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School; M.A. in security studies, Georgetown University; B.A in poltical science, University of California San Diego

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Jonathan Wong is associate director of RAND Arroyo Center's Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, a policy researcher at RAND Corporation, and a professor at Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research focuses on the role of new technologies and operational concepts, and processes in shaping how militaries fight. He also contributes to other force design and development research and RAND's military logistics, manpower, intelligence policy, and strategy portfolios.

Previously, Wong was a consultant at Boston Consulting Group, advising corporate clients on strategic decisionmaking in the industrial goods and public sector spaces. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an enlisted infantryman, infantry officer, and manpower planner 2001–11, deploying multiple times to Iraq and the Western Pacific.

Wong holds a Ph.D. and M.Phil. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School, an M.A. in security studies from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in political science from the University of California, San Diego.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Non-Resident Fellow, Krulak Center for Innovation & Future Warfare

Recent Projects

  • Alternative Concepts for Land Forces in the Indo-Pacific
  • Strengthening the Defense Innovation Ecosystem
  • Understanding the Performance of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework Pathway through Metrics
  • Accelerating Modernization and Innovation: Use of Other Transactions for Prototype Projects Authority
  • Digital Engineering’s Impact on Air Force Weapon System Cost Estimates

Selected Publications

Jonathan P. Wong, Obaid Younossi, Christine Kistler LaCoste Philip S. Anton, Alan Vick, Guy Weichenberg, Thomas Whitmore, Improving Defense Acquisition: Insights from Three Decades of RAND Research, RAND Corporation (RR-A1003-1), 2021 (forthcoming)

Joslyn Fleming, Jonathan P. Wong, Matthew W. Lewis, Duncan Long, Angelena Bohman, Kathryn Connor, Rick Eden, Michael J. Gaines, Equipping the 21st Century Marine Corps: Alternative Equipping Strategies for Task-Organized Units, RAND (RR-2822-USMC), 2021

Lauren A. Mayer, Mark V. Arena, Frank Camm, Jonathan P. Wong, Gabriel Lesnick, Sarah Soliman, Edward Fernandez, Phillip Carter, Gordon T. Lee, Prototyping Using Other Transactions Case Studies for the Acquisition Community, RAND (RR-4417-AF), 2020

Jonathan P. Wong, "Bad Idea: Overly Focusing on Development and Acquisition Speed," CSIS Defense 360, 2020

Honors & Awards

  • Hogaboom Leadership Writing Award, Marine Corps Association

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Aerospace International, UK; NPR News; Sea Control


  • Jonathan Wong and Joslyn Fleming at RAND's Santa Monica headquarters in September 2021, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

    A Tradition of Service: Q&A with Two Veterans

    Before they became RAND researchers, Jonathan Wong and Joslyn Fleming served as U.S. Marines. In this interview, they discuss what made them want to join the service, what led them to research, and how their military experience guides the work they do at RAND.

    Nov 7, 2021

  • A U.S. flag and flowers on the 9/11 memorial in New York City, New York, January 25, 2020, photo by Nicolas Economou/Reuters

    The Guilt I Carry Over 9/11 Drives Me to Help Others

    RAND policy researcher and U.S. military veteran Jonathan Wong reflects on how the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have influenced how he has lived his life since that day.

    Sep 13, 2021 San Diego Union-Tribune

  • U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from 94th Fighter Squadron landed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Aug. 10, 2017, photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin O. Leslie/U.S. Air Force

    Bad Idea: Overly Focusing on Development and Acquisition Speed

    The Pentagon has in recent years turned its attention to the need for speed in weapons system development and acquisition. While shortening the timeline for program development and fielding is important for Defense Department acquisition leaders, overly prioritizing speed can lead to issues with program management, sustainment, and other areas.

    Dec 16, 2020 Defense360

  • An Airman with the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron prepares for a close air support exercise during Southern Strike 2020 at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, MS,  February 3, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Izabella Workman/U.S. Air Force

    Book Review: 'The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare' by Christian Brose

    As the Pentagon and commercial technologists continue to explore the potential of commercial technologies for the military and work towards greater adoption, they may wish to focus not only on lowering bureaucratic barriers but also on managing expectations about what technologies will be most beneficial and how they will be used.

    Jul 2, 2020 War on the Rocks

  • A Marine fires a Javelin during Operation Lava Viper at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, May 27, 2015, photo by Cpl. Ricky Gomez/U.S. Marine Corps

    Indications of Institutional Inertia: The FY2021 USMC Budget

    The Grim Reaper is a 700-foot-tall series of hills that Marine Corps recruits must summit to graduate from boot camp. As the Marine Corps attempts to transform from a second land army and counterinsurgency force to operate within contested maritime spaces, its recent budget request suggests that it will need to climb its own Grim Reaper to get there.

    Mar 26, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Aerial view of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

    Book Review: 'The Heart of War—Misadventures in the Pentagon' by Kathleen McInnis

    Both Washington insiders and the general public may be inspired by Kathleen McCinnis's The Heart of War. The novel prompts readers to think more realistically about the Pentagon and its role in policymaking.

    Jan 8, 2019 War on the Rocks

  • Soldiers conduct cyberspace operations during a training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, January 24, 2016

    The Pentagon's New Chief Innovation Officer Should Tread Lightly

    The innovation efforts taking place in the Department of Defense are exciting and have much potential. But installing a chief innovation officer with centralized authority who may become just another bureaucratic player among many could spoil those efforts.

    Nov 3, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara visits Fort Bragg, North Carolina in October 1961

    In Defense of Defense Analysis

    Rather than characterize Robert McNamara's legacy as one of inefficiency, his economic, quantitative analysis of military problems should be portrayed as an innovative, if flawed, first adoption of more sophisticated methods for defense analysis.

    Sep 2, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • U.S. troops train Afghan soldiers to operate equipment in Laghman Province, Afghanistan, January 2014

    Don't Learn the Wrong Lessons from Rapid Acquisition

    Rapid acquisition practices that worked during recent wars may not easily translate to peacetime endeavors. Enthusiasm for rapid acquisition must be tempered by an understanding of the circumstances that made it work and the downsides that were accepted in wartime.

    Jun 23, 2016 Defense One

  • Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade training with NATO allies in Poland

    Rethinking U.S. Force Planning

    While the renewed interest in crisis response forces by the military services is welcome in these times of uncertainty, forces that are permanently assigned to a geographic combatant command and based in a region continue to offer distinct benefits. RAND research has shown that an overseas presence enhances contingency responsiveness in most cases.

    May 16, 2014 The RAND Blog