The Hidden Hand Behind America’s Foreign Policy

January 23, 2015

The Wall Street Journal

“In the annals of strategic thought from Sun Tzu through Carl Von Clausewitz, and the chronicles of long public service from Queen Victoria through Adm. Hyman Rickover, Andrew Marshall has an honorable place.”

The Quiet American

January 8, 2015

The Economist

“He rarely speaks in public and almost never to the press. Most of his reports are secret. A historian once asked if even his brain was classified. But for over four decades Andrew Marshall’s judgments, emanating from a small office in the Pentagon, have guided American defence policy.”

In Search of a Successor for the Pentagon’s “Yoda”

January 2, 2015


“Since Andrew Marshall founded the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment in the early ’70s, he’s been the only person to head the think tank. But at the age of 93, Marshall—nicknamed “Yoda” after the sage extraterrestrial character from “Star Wars”—is retiring, according to the Washington Post.”

“Yoda” Still Standing: Office of Pentagon Futurist, Andrew Marshall, 92, Survives Budget Ax

December 4, 2013

The Washington Post

“Yoda is the nom de guerre for Andrew W. Marshall, the 92-year-old futurist who directs the Pentagon’s obliquely named internal think tank, the Office of Net Assessment. A fixture in national-security circles since the dawn of the Cold War, Marshall contemplates military strategy and apocalyptic scenarios that could emerge in the decades to come.”

In Search of Strategic Foresight

November 1, 2013

Foreign Policy

“The current situation is such that the U.S. cannot afford to continue devoting resources to defense without a well-thought-out strategy for competing…We can no longer indulge in the ‘rich man’ strategy of insuring against all possible adverse futures…We can no longer afford to compete by simply doing more of the same.”

Thinking About War and Peace: Andrew Marshall and the Early Development of the Intellectual Foundations for Net Assessment

February 4, 2013

Comparative Strategy

This article discusses some of the background and early intellectual influences of Andrew Marshall and the development of the net assessment framework. In particular, it focuses on some of the intellectual foundations for net assessment, key characteristics, and how the style, vision, and ideas of Andrew Marshall have been and continue to be influential for performing net assessment.


The Marshall Plan

February 1, 2003

Wired Magazine

“For 40 years, the man Pentagon insiders call Yoda has foreseen the future of war – from battlefield bots rolling off radar-proof ships to GIs popping performance pills. And that was before the war on terror.”

Strategic Thought at RAND, 1948-1960: The Ideas, Their Origins, Their Fates

June 1990

RAND Corporation

“This document reports on how a bright and innovative group of people at the young RAND Corporation came to learn about military strategy and to make important contributions to that field in the first 15 years of the Corporation. It draws on memories, documents, discussions, and interviews. The account is organized loosely according to certain main ideas that came out of those fruitful years, with emphasis on the new field of nuclear strategy.”

Net Assessment: The Concept, Its Development, and Its Future

May 1990

This paper contains “observations about the concept, the history, the…status, and future needs and prospects of net assessment [that] emerged” from a May 1990 symposium sponsored jointly by the Director, Net Assessment, and the president of the Institute for Defense Analyses. “The symposium was held as part of a thrust to help the DoD and IDA gain a deeper understanding of the significance of recently changing strategic conditions in world events, and of the implications of the changed conditions for DoD strategic planning. Net Assessment has been a part of the DoD planning landscape for many years. The key questions to which the symposium sought answers were how the activity has served the DoD in the past, and how it could continue to serve it in the future.”

Net Assessment: An American Approach

April 1990

Memorandum No. 29 Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (JCSS)

This paper is based on a lecture presented at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies on August 17, 1989. At that time the author was a Visiting Fellow at the Center, as well as the Bradley Senior Research Associate at Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies.

“What follows represents only one line of thinking about net assessment, which we may define as “the craft and discipline of analyzing military balances.” From the first part of this definition an important characteristic of this approach becomes clear: net assessment, in this view, is not a science or anything close to it. Although net assessment may draw on various forms of quantitative analysis, it makes no pretense to the certainty (such as it is) of operations research, much less the hard sciences. Many do not share this view, and think that not only is scientific rigor, of the kind associated, let us say, with molecular biology, possible in this field, but that scientific progress characterizes it as well. My view is more pessimistic: a storehouse of wisdom about doing net assessments has been built up in the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and many statesmen and generals have, in the past, made superb net assessments. But there is no guarantee that accumulated good sense will survive in any bureaucracy, and individual genius appears and flourishes as it wills. What is worse, many of the approaches to net assessment that dominate contemporary academe, and to a lesser extent the public and contract research worlds are, in fact, profoundly destructive of sound net assessment.”

U.S. and Soviet Strategic Forces: Joint Net Assessment

November 14, 1983

Secretary of Defense, Director of Central Intelligence

This declassified document, produced in 1983, is a joint net assessment by the Director of Central Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense. It examines aspects of the United States and Soviet Union’s strategic postures, including trends, asymmetries, and scenarios.