Publisher Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Programs

Global Security Podcast: A Conversation with Mark Stout and Stephen Duncan

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Mark Stout discusses the process by which national security leaders are appointed with former Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Duncan, author of the book Only the Most Able: Moving Beyond Politics in The Selection of National Security Leaders.

Duncan, an adjunct instructor in the MA in Global Security Studies Program, argues that both Democratic and Republican administrations apply the wrong criteria in selecting nominees for defense, diplomatic and intelligence positions. He adds that the Senate has consistently fallen down in meeting its “advise and consent” obligations. He urges the government to learn from how the US military grows leaders and to apply stricter standards.

About Stephen Duncan

Stephen M. Duncan, J.D., served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs in the administrations of two presidents. He also served as Department of Defense Coordinator for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support from 1989 to 1993.  Mr. Duncan is a veteran of the U.S. Navy from which he is retired with 41 years of Active and Reserve service.  From 2002-2004, Mr. Duncan served as a Distinguished Fellow at the National Defense University (NDU), Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. In 2004, he was appointed Director of the Institute for Homeland Security Studies at NDU. Between 2007 and 2010 he was Vice Chairman of General Atomics Technologies Corporation.

Mr. Duncan is the author of several books, including Citizen Warriors: America’s National Guard and Reserve Forces& the Politics of National Security (1997), A War of a Different Kind: Military Force and America’s Search for Homeland Security (2004), Only the Most Able: Moving Beyond Politics in the Selection of National Security Leaders (2012), and Master Craftsmen: Friends, Colleagues & Other Contemporaries Who Have Made a Difference (2016). He is also the author of many articles on national security and related subjects.

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