Conaton Named Head of International Security and Defense Policy Center at RAND


Apr 1, 2014

Erin C. Conaton joined RAND this week as director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center.

For the past year Conaton had been president of Conaton Strategies LLC, vice chairman of the congressionally created National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, and non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Conaton has 15 years of experience in defense policy, programs and budgeting; military strategy; and military personnel policy and readiness. She recently left government service after serving three years as a Senate-confirmed appointee, first as Under Secretary of the Air Force and later as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Prior to that, Conaton spent nine years on the professional staff of the House Armed Services Committee, including stints as minority staff director and staff director.

“As a long-time consumer of RAND analysis, I have relied upon and been impressed by the quality of RAND's analysis,” says Conaton, who is based at the RAND office in Arlington, Va. “At a time when the foreign and defense policy challenges facing the United States are so varied and complex, RAND's outstanding expertise and analytical rigor become even more essential. I am honored and excited to join this team.”

Conaton replaces Amb. James Dobbins, who left RAND in May 2013 after President Obama named him his special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

She has a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in Foreign Service and a master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

The RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center analyzes changes in the international political, strategic, economic, and technological environment and helps the U.S. Department of Defense develop policies to shape the environment and advance U.S. interests. The Center's primary sponsors are the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; the Joint Staff's Directorate of Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment; and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks and Information Integration).

— Lisa Sodders