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General James Cartwright

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General James Cartwright

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs



General James Cartwright retired from active duty on 1 September 2011, after 40 years of service in the United States Marine Corps.

Unique among Marines, General Cartwright served as Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, before being nominated and appointed as the 8th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nationís second highest military officer. General Cartwright served his four year tenure as Vice Chairman across two Presidential administrations and constant military operations against diverse and evolving enemies. He became widely recognized for his technical acumen, vision of future national security concepts, and keen ability to integrate systems, organizations and people in ways that encouraged creativity and sparked innovation in the areas of strategic deterrence, nuclear proliferation, missile defense, cyber security, and adaptive acquisition processes.

Born in Rockford, IL, he attended the University of Iowa and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Marines in 1971. He was both a Naval Flight Officer and Naval Aviator who flew the F-4 Phantom, OA-4 Skyhawk, and F/A-18 Hornet. In 1983 he was named Outstanding Carrier Aviator of the Year by the Association of Naval Aviation. General Cartwright graduated with distinction from the Air Command and Staff College, received a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, completed a fellowship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was honored with a Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award.

General Cartwright currently serves as the inaugural holder of the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies for the Center for Strategic & International Studies. In addition, General Cartwright serves as a member of The Raytheon Company Board of Directors, a Harvard Belfer Center Senior Fellow, and a defense consultant for ABC News.

General Cartwright is also an advisor for several corporate entities involved in global management consulting; technology services and program solutions; predictive and Big Data Analytics; and advanced systems engineering, integration, and decision-support services. He serves as an advisor to the Boards of Directors for Accenture Federal Services, Enlightenment Capital, IxReveal, Logos Technologies, Opera Solutions, and TASC. General Cartwright is also affiliated with a number of professional organizations to include the Aspen Strategy Group, The Atlantic Council, Global Zero, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative.



By Date


Wikimedia Commons

April 19, 2015

"How to Avert a Nuclear War"

Op-Ed, The New York Times

By General James Cartwright, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

We find ourselves in an increasingly risky strategic environment. The Ukrainian crisis has threatened the stability of relations between Russia and the West, including the nuclear dimension ó as became apparent last month when it was reported that Russian defense officials had advised President Vladimir V. Putin to consider placing Russiaís nuclear arsenal on alert during last yearís crisis in Crimea.

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