Elbridge Colby | Co-Founder, The Marathon Initiative; Former Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense, Strategy and Force Development

On Oct. 19, the Clements Center for National Security will host Elbridge Colby, co-founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, for a book talk on his upcoming release The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict. Join us at 12:15 p.m. CT in Bass Lecture Hall at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.


Elbridge Colby is co-founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. He is the author of The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict (Yale University Press, 2021).

Colby served from 2018 to 2019 as the director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security, where he led its work on defense issues.

Before that, he served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development from 2017 to 2018. He was the lead official in the development and rollout of the DoD's preeminent strategic planning guidance, the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). The NDS shifted the Department of Defense's focus to the challenges to U.S. military superiority and interests posed by China in particular, followed by Russia, prioritizing restoring the Joint Force's warfighting edge against these major power competitors. He also served as the primary Defense Department representative in the development of the 2017 National Security Strategy.

From 2014 to 2017, Colby was the Robert M. Gates senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. From 2010 to 2013 he was the CNA's principal analyst and division lead for global strategic affairs. Earlier in his career he served for over five years in the U.S. government working on a range of strategic forces, arms control, WMD and intelligence reform matters, including service with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003 and with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during its stand-up in 2005-06. Colby has also served on the staff of a number of government commissions, including the 2014 National Defense Panel, the 2008-09 Strategic Posture Commission, and the 2004-05 President's WMD Commission.

Colby's work has appeared in outlets including Foreign Affairs, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Foreign Policy and The National Interest as well as in international outlets including Asahi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Nikkei Asia, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Le Figaro, Survival, Internationale Politik, Die Zeit, the Taipei Times, Hankook Ilbo, Limes, the New Straits Times and The Manila Standard. He is also the author of many book chapters, reports and articles on defense and foreign policy issues. He has testified a number of times before Congress and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Colby is a recipient of the Distinguished and Exceptional Public Service Awards from the Department of Defense and of the Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the Department of State. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Colby is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.

Registration is required for all virtual and in-person events.

The Clements Center will continue to follow all public health related policies of The University of Texas at Austin. Please be mindful that an inherent risk of exposure to viruses and other health threats exists in any public space. Attendees voluntarily assume all associated risks. All UT guidelines and FAQs about COVID-19 can be found at Protect Texas Together.


For more information about this event, contact Elizabeth Doughtie: elizabeth.doughtie@utexas.edu.

Clements Center for National Security