Andrew Marshall: Net Assessment as a Tool of Strategy

March 14, 2023

The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI)

“Foreign policy strategist Andrew Marshall had a career that spanned seven decades from the late 1940s. He was hailed by a former KGB officer as ‘the grey cardinal, the éminence grise’ of the U.S. revolution of military affairs, and as ‘the great hero’ of Chinese officers tracking developments in U.S. military technology, claiming they had translated every word he wrote. Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken joins ‘Talking Strategy’ to discuss his work and life.”

Review: Andrew Marshall’s Reflections on Net Assessment

January 16, 2023

Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC)

“Known throughout parts of the American national security establishment as “Yoda,” referred to by The Atlantic as the “Brain of the Pentagon,” and respected worldwide for his decades of strategic work at RAND, the National Security Council, and finally in founding and running the Office of Net Assessment, Andrew Marshall was a critical figure in the Cold War and post-Cold War history of American security and strategy. He was also an intellectual figure who left a limited imprint on the literature of American national security, having written the vast majority of his work for classified audiences and publishing very little in the open.”

Assessing “Reflections on Net Assessment”

December 19, 2022

Book Review

“U.S. national security is recovering from over twenty years of Instant Gratification Warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The threat posed by the People’s Republic of China requires the U.S. to think in decades instead of in deployment cycles, and develop strategies and plans in an integrated manner.  “Reflection on Net Assessment” is the perfect book for someone who needs to shake off organizationally-incentivized impatience and focus on long-term threats.”

Net Assessment and Military Strategy

March 2020

Cambria Press

In Thomas G. Mahnken’s Net Assessment and Military Strategy, former members of Marshall’s staff and those who benefited from his mentorship present essays on the history, tenets, applications, and influence of net assessment and Marshall’s work. Featuring an introduction by Andrew Marshall, this volume is essential reading that traces net assessment’s impact on U.S. national security and defense strategy from the Cold War to today.

The Last Warrior: Andrew Marshall and the Shaping of Modern American Defense Strategy

January 6, 2015

Basic Books

In The Last Warrior, Andrew Krepinevich and Barry Watts—both former members of Marshall’s staff—trace Marshall’s intellectual development from his upbringing in Detroit during the Great Depression to his decades in Washington as an influential behind-the-scenes advisor on American defense strategy. The result is a unique insider’s perspective on the changes in U.S. strategy from the dawn of the Cold War to the present day.

The Art of Net Assessment and Uncovering Foreign Military Innovations: Learning from Andrew W. Marshall’s Legacy


Journal of Strategic Studies

“Andrew W. Marshall, who shaped the way in which contemporary international security experts think about strategy, has been mostly associated with the invention of net assessment. The intellectual sources of this analytical technique, and of the related competitive strategies concept, could be traced to Marshall’s efforts to uncover Soviet post-World War II defense transformations. This article outlines the essence of these Soviet innovations – the empirical frame of reference that inspired Marshall. It provides a new perspective on the history of the net-assessment methodology, advances the debate within strategic studies over the nature of military innovations, and offers insights for experts examining defense transformations worldwide.”

Remembering Andy Marshall

May 2020

The Andrew W. Marshall Foundation

This publication features reflections, remarks, and essays by:

Graham Allison

Mie Augier

Jesse Ausubel

Gordon Barrass

Rebecca Bash

Keith Bickel

Jacqueline Deal

Nicholas Eberstadt

David Epstein

David Fahrenkrug

Aaron Friedberg

Melissa Hathaway

Andrew Krepinevich

Scooter Libby

Andrew May

Jeffrey S. McKitrick

John Milam

Chip Pickett

Dmitry Ponomareff

Jim Powell

James Roche

Stephen P. Rosen

Paul Selva

Abram Shulsky

Anna Simons

Lionel Tiger

Barry Watts

Remembering Andy Marshall

March 29, 2019

This is a special edition of the Defense & Aerospace Report Podcast that remembers the life and legacy of Andy Marshall, former director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment.

Moderated by: Vago Muradian


  • Former Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work
  • Gen. Paul Selva, USAF, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and one of Marshall’s former military fellows
  • Col. Tom Ehrhard, PhD, USAF Ret., vice president for defense strategy at the Long Term Strategy Group, and one of Marshall’s former military fellows
  • Jaymie Durnan, deputy assistant to the director of strategic initiatives at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Marshall’s executor and former military fellow

The Last Warrior

May 17, 2015

Nixon Presidential Library & Museum

Andrew Krepinevich and Barry Watts talk about their biography of Andrew Marshall, head of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment – the Pentagon’s think tank – from 1973-2015. The co-authors are former members of Marshall’s staff.

The Flaring of Intellectual Outliers: An Organizational Interpretation of the Generation of Novelty in the RAND Corporation

April 2015

Organization Science

“Much of intellectual history is punctuated by the flaring of intellectual outliers, small groups of thinkers who briefly, but decisively, influence the development of ideas, technologies, policies, or worldviews. To understand the flaring of intellectual outliers, we use archival and interview data from the RAND Corporation after the Second World War. We focus on five factors important to the RAND experience: (1) a belief in fundamental research as a source of practical ideas, (2) a culture of optimistic urgency, (3) the solicitation of renegade ambition, (4) the recruitment of intellectual cronies, and (5) the facilitation of the combinatorics of variety. To understand the subsequent decline of intellectual outliers at RAND, we note that success yields a sense of competence, endurance in a competitive world, and the opportunity and inclination to grow. Self-confidence, endurance, and growth produce numerous positive consequences for an organization; but for the most part, they undermine variety. Outliers and the conditions that produce them are not favored by their environments. Engineering solutions to this problem involve extending time and space horizons, providing false information about the likelihoods of positive returns from exploration, buffering exploratory activities from the pressures of efficiency, and protecting exploration from analysis by connecting it to dictates of identities.”