Event Details


Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019


12:15 pm


LBJ School of Public Affairs, Bass Hall

A Conversation with General Robert Neller on U.S. Defense Strategy

A Conversation with General Robert Neller on U.S. Defense Strategy

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019  |  12:15 pm   |  LBJ School of Public Affairs, Bass Hall

On November 20, 2019, the Strauss Center and Clements Center were pleased to welcome General Robert Neller (USMC, Retired), 37th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps and former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who gave a talk on the U.S.’s 2018 National Defense Strategy.

To see photos from this event click here.

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General Neller gave a summary of the background, process, framework, lines of effort, and themes found in the recent publication of the National Defense Strategy (NDS). The 2018 NDS implements the December 2017 National Security Strategy published by the Trump Administration and follows a review of the U.S. Armed Forces’ readiness, size, missions, posture, and budget. The document reflects the strategic pivot to global near-peer competition while acknowledging the continuance of the 18-year counterterrorism fight, employed in a resource constrained environment. In Desert Storm, the U.S. demonstrated its unquestioned preeminence, but the environment has changed. Adversaries have developed increased conventional capabilities, technology development has accelerated and commercialized, and the international rules-based order has begun to fray as treaties and norms have eroded.

The Department of Defense will undertake three lines of effort to confront these challenges:

  1. Build a lethal, ready force. This means increased readiness and modernization.
  2. Strengthen alliances and attract new partners. Alliances deter conflict and provide negotiating space.
  3. Reform DOD for greater performance and affordability. They’d like to ensure every dollar is well spent.

General Neller also touched on themes of changing threat priorities, expanding the competitive space through utilizing all of the instruments of power, and taking a multi-domain view of competition- specifically in cyber, space, and information.

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General Robert B. Neller served as the 37th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Prior to that assignment, he served as the Commander, Marine Forces Command from July 2014 to September 2015 and Commander, Marine Forces Central Command from September 2012 to June 2014. A native of East Lansing, Michigan, General Neller graduated from the University of Virginia and was commissioned in 1975. He has served as an infantry officer at all levels, including command of Marine Security Force Company Panama during Operations JUST CAUSE and PROMOTE LIBERTY; 3d Light Armored Infantry Battalion during Operation RESTORE HOPE; 6th Marine Regiment; and 3d Marine Division. General Neller also served as Deputy Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (05-07); Assistant Division Commander for 1st and 2d Marine Divisions; and President of Marine Corps University. His Joint assignments include service in the Policy Division of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Casteau, Belgium, and as the Director of Operations (J-3) of the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C. General Neller is a graduate of the Armor Officer Advanced Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, NATO Defense College, and the Armed Forces Staff College. He holds a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Pepperdine University.

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