Joseph Felter

Research Fellow / National Security Affairs Fellow 2008-2009

Joe Felter is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and William J. Perry Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation.

From 2017 to 2019, Felter served as US deputy assistant secretary of defense for South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. There he was the principal advisor for all policy matters pertaining to development and implementation of defense strategies and plans in the region and responsible for managing bilateral security relationships and guiding Department of Defense (DoD) engagement with multilateral institutions.  

At Stanford, Felter is codirector of the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project and coauthor of Hacking for Defense, a defense innovation­–focused academic curriculum he helped develop and pilot at Stanford, sponsored by the DoD and taught at more than 30 universities across the country. His previous academic positions include director of West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, assistant professor in the US Military Academy’s Department of Social Sciences, and adjunct associate professor at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs. His research focuses on addressing politically motivated violence and has appeared in the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and a range of other academic and policy-focused publications.  He is coauthor of Small Wars, Big Data: The Information Revolution and Modern Conflict (Princeton University Press, 2018). 

A former US Army Special Forces and Foreign Area officer, Joe served in a variety of special operations and diplomatic assignments across East and Southeast Asia. His combat deployments include Panama with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Iraq with a Joint Special Operations Task Force, and Afghanistan, where he commanded the COMISAF Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team, reporting directly to Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.

Felter is founder and senior advisor at BMNT a Silicon Valley–based technology incubator and problem-solving platform named by Forbes magazine in 2016 as one of the nation’s top-25 veteran-founded start-ups. He served as a member of the Marines Memorial Board of Advisors and is currently a board member of Spirit of America, a nonprofit supporting the needs of US military members deployed overseas.

He received a BS from the US Military Academy at West Point, a masters in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a graduate certificate in management from the University of West Australia, and a PhD in political science from Stanford University. He is a graduate of the Singapore Armed Forces Senior Service College and was a US Army War College Fellow at the Hoover Institution. 

Filter By:



Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Ending China’s Chokehold On Rare-Earth Minerals

by General Jim Mattis, Admiral James O. Ellis Jr., Joseph Felter , Kori Schakevia Bloomberg
Friday, September 18, 2020

The U.S. and allies can break Beijing’s monopoly on elements vital to electronics and national defense.

Blank Section (Placeholder)National SecurityFeatured

Area 45: Colonel Joseph Felter: Afghanistan Withdrawal

interview with Joseph Felter via Area 45
Thursday, April 23, 2020

The lessons learned and what comes next in South and Southeast Asia. 

FeaturedNational Security

Leaving Afghanistan: Pulling Out Without Pulling The Rug Out

by Joseph Felter via War on the Rocks
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The United States must at some point depart from Afghanistan and bring this costly “forever war” to a conclusion. With over 2,400 U.S. servicemembers killed, many more wounded, and nearly a trillion dollars spent to date, America’s leaders are under an obligation to design and execute a plan that stops a decades-long hemorrhaging of American blood and treasure.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Area 45: Joe Felter: The Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy

interview with Joseph Felter via Area 45
Monday, November 4, 2019

In an era of competitive influence with China and Russia, what are the policy implications for the Indo-Pacific region? 

Featured AnalysisAnalysis and Commentary

ISIS In The Philippines: A Threat To US Interests

by Joseph Felter via The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On 23 May 2017, several hundred militants acting in the name of the Islamic State seized control of a portion of Marawi City, in the southern Philippines, after months of preparation and stockpiling of arms and munitions. The group was led by Isnilon Hapilon, a member of the Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf Group whom ISIS named its Emir for Southeast Asia.  Isnilon Hapilon used ISIS’s extremist ideology to galvanize support amongst several disparate extremist groups, most notably Omar and Abdullah Maute, who founded Dawlah Islamiyah. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)

Agility in the Arsenal

by Joseph Felter 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 Joseph Felter 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 Joseph Felter 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 Joseph Felter , 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, Joseph Felter , 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?