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Fred Kempe Named One of 100 Most Influential People in US Defense

My former boss, Atlantic Council president and CEO Fred Kempe, has been named one of Defense News’ 100 Most Influential People in US Defense.

When you can pick up the phone and talk to America’s defense secretary just about anytime, you’ve got influence. Do that with top movers and shakers around the world and build an all-star team, that includes such veterans like Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, then you’ve got a heavy-hitting organization. When Kempe — a former Wall Street Journal reporter and editor — took over the Atlantic Council, it was a sleepy but venerable think tank committed to supporting the Atlantic Alliance. But it has expanded dramatically, opening Middle East, Latin America, Asia and defense industry studies arms as well as shifting to new glitzy offices. Kempe hired National Security Council veteran Barry Pavel to direct the Council’s Scowcroft Center that includes former Pentagon industrial affairs chief Steve Grundman, and Shuja Nawaz, one of the town’s top South Asia analysts. It’s annual awards gala is widely regarded as the Oscars of national security, with luminaries from defense, industry and the arts converging on Washington for a star-studded evening.

Congrats to Fred and the team he’s built over the last seven years. A full quarter of the top 100 are members of the Atlantic Council’s board of directors—which Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Chaired before assuming his current position.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. James Pearce says:

    Congrats to Fred and the team he’s built over the last seven years.

    No doubt, but to get beat out by Snowden and Rouhani? Man, that’s gotta sting.

    (Hate to say it, but the list is weird. Jinping gets the top spot and Putin’s on there, but Obama isn’t? Sure, he’s represented by all the players…got em all I see…but why no Chinese or Russian deputies? And then there’s the composite characters… the Congressional Big 8, the Decision Drivers, etc. I would really hate to be in the office at Defense News those days, trying to stretch the list out to a hundred and then ranking them? Ugh…a nightmare. By the end, you’re just making shit up. But hey, maybe I’m just overthinking it. Still…nice to see your old boss got a mention.)

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