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James A. Schear

Global Fellow


    June 1, 2015 — August 31, 2023

    Professional affiliation

    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, US Department of Defense

    Wilson Center Projects

    “Building Security Through Partnerships: Towards a New Model?”

    Full Biography

    James A. Schear of Maryland served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations from 2009-2013. He led efforts to help foreign partners build effective and accountable security forces, to reshape US investments in stabilization missions post-Afghanistan, to navigate war-to-peace transitions, to prevent mass atrocities and to provide life-saving aid to the victims of natural disasters and complex emergencies.

    Dr. Schear’s public service contributions span more than two decades. From 1989-94 he served as an advisor at the United Nations where he assisted senior officials in shaping implementation of 1991 Gulf War cease-fire resolutions and providing analytic support to the leadership of UN missions in Cambodia and Former Yugoslavia.

    In June 1999, Dr. Schear was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service for his work during the Kosovo crisis. During prior service as a deputy assistant secretary of defense, 1997-2001, he and his peacekeeping & humanitarian affairs team played key roles in supporting US efforts to end the Eritrean-Ethiopian war, to stabilize East Timor following its separation from Indonesia, to counter predatory violence in war-torn regions, and to strengthen international standards against the use of child soldiers. More recently, his humanitarian efforts helped shape US responses to Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, as well as Japan’s 2011 tsunami & nuclear emergency, Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, and assistance to refugees fleeing conflict in Syria.

    Dr. Schear’s contributions to applied policy research are also noteworthy. As Director of Research at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies, 2001-8, he supervised seven project teams conducting studies on regional security affairs, strategic concept development and terrorism/transnational challenges. He also has held research appointments at Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Stimson Center and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. From 1984-87, he served as Executive Officer of the Aspen Strategy Group, co-chaired by Lt. Gen. (ret.) Brent Scowcroft and William Perry, and directed by Joseph S. Nye. In 2007-8, he was a principal member of the Afghanistan Study Group; and he also served as an expert advisor for the Iraq Study Group as well as the Genocide Prevention Task Force. In late ’08, he served on the President-elect’s transition team for the Defense Department, leading its subgroup on planning for the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.

    Dr. Schear earned his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He holds a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies and a BA from The American University’s School of International Service. He has lectured widely on international security affairs, visited more than sixty countries, edited or co-edited four books and authored numerous articles, book chapters, reports and op-ed pieces in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Quarterly, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Christian Science Monitor, International Security and Strategic Survey.

    Major Publications


    Previous Terms

    Public Policy Scholar: June 30, 2014 – May 22, 2015