Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.)

National Security Affairs Fellow 2008-2009

Joseph Felter was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior research scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. In July 2017, Felter was selected for appointment to the Senior Executive Service, and for assignment as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia.

Felter retired from the US Army as a colonel in 2011 following a career as a Special Forces and foreign area officer. He has conducted foreign internal defense and security assistance missions across East and Southeast Asia and has participated in operational deployments to Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He led the International Security and Assistance Force, Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team, in Afghanistan, reporting directly to Generals Stanley McChrystal and and David Petraeus and advising them on counterinsurgency strategy.

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Recent Commentary

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Agility in the Arsenal

by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.)via Hoover Digest
Friday, July 7, 2017

Technology makes for better weapons—but only until our foes catch up. Why the Pentagon needs to move faster. 

Featured CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

It’s Not Just The Technology: Beyond Offset Strategies

by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.)via Strategika
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A range of breakthrough technologies are emerging today that have the potential to radically change how we fight and deter threats across all conflict domains—air, land, sea, space, and cyber. Artificial intelligence, directed energy, robotics, and machine learning are just a few examples. 

Know Thy Enemy

by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.)via Hoover Digest
Monday, April 20, 2015

Identifying the ideological foundations of hostile Islamism may enable us to defeat it.

Analysis and Commentary

How Empirical Studies Of Political Violence (Can) Help Policymakers

by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.), Eli Berman, Jacob N. Shapiro, Ethan B. Kapsteinvia Washington Post
Monday, March 16, 2015

In a recent New York Times opinion piece, “Where Terrorism Research Goes Wrong,” social psychologist Anthony Biglan argues that, given the importance of antiterrorism programs and the huge resources devoted to them, far too few are subjected to randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating their efficacy.

War Plane
Analysis and Commentary

The Super Smart Way To Dismantle ISIS

by Eli Berman, Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.), Jacob H. Shapirovia National Interest
Friday, February 27, 2015

Every week, the Islamic State (IS) makes further headlines with its ruthless behavior. The many tactics of IS raises the question: which type of war are we fighting against it?

Syrian Refugees
Analysis and Commentary

Aid For Peace

by Eli Berman, Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.), Jacob N. Shapirovia Foreign Affairs
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The future of humanitarian assistance and security policy in chaotic places such as Syria and Iraq could rest on a single question: Does aid in conflict zones promote peace or war? It seems intuitive to assume that hunger and exposure push people to violence and that aid should, therefore, lead to peace.

Featured CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

Know the Enemy and the Nature of the Conflict We Face

by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.)via Strategika
Friday, December 19, 2014

An important first step in rebooting U.S. Middle East policy and more effectively addressing the roots of the problems that have manifested into threats to U.S. and international security demands that we more holistically embrace Sun Tzu’s maxim of the importance of knowing one’s enemy.

War Plane
Analysis and Commentary

Airstrikes Can Only Do So Much to Combat ISIS

by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.)via Room for Debate (New York Times)
Thursday, August 14, 2014

At the tactical level, air-delivered munitions can significantly degrade the ability of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, to mass their forces or employ artillery, mortars, rockets and other weapons that can have a devastating impact on civilians as well as Iraqi military forces in the field. We’ve seen air power achieve positive results in other cases.

Poster Collection, IR 132, Hoover Institution Archives.

Strategika: “What’s Good Enough in Afghanistan?” with Joe Felter

by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.)via Strategika
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Retired Colonel Joseph Felter explains the problems facing America in Afghanistan and what the United States can do to address them.

Poster Collection, IR 132, Hoover Institution Archives.
Featured CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

How Good is Afghan Good Enough?

by Colonel Joseph (Joe) Felter (ret.)via Strategika
Saturday, March 1, 2014

U.S.-led Coalition forces have made significant and hard-earned progress building the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to take the lead in providing the security needed to bring stability, development, and governance to this persistently impoverished country with little history of effective centralized rule.