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C. Anthony Pfaff PhD MA MS

Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute

Senior Non-resident Fellow, Atlantic Council

Distinguished Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy


DR. C. ANTHONY PFAFF (Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.) is currently the research professor for Strategy, the Military Profession and Ethics at the Strategic Studies Institute and a Senior Non-resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council. A retired Army foreign area officer for the Middle East and North Africa, Dr. Pfaff served as Director for Iraq on the National Security Council Staff. His last active duty posting was Senior Army and Military Advisor to the State Department from, where he served on the Policy Planning Staff advising on cyber, regional military affairs, and the Middle East. He is the author of several articles on ethics and disruptive technologies such as “The Ethics of Acquiring Disruptive Military Technologies,” in Texas National Security Review.


Dr. Pfaff has a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Economics from Washington and Lee University; a master’s degree in Philosophy from Stanford University, with a concentration in Philosophy of Science; a master’s in National Resource Management from the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy; and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Georgetown University.



“Iraq has a new government. The United States would benefit from broad engagement with all Iraqi stakeholders,” The Atlantic Council, November 4, 2022,


“Proxy War or not, Ukraine shows why moral hazards matter,” The New Atlanticist, June 9, 2022,


“Coercing Effectively: Rethinking the Logic and Grammar of International Competition After Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine,” Modern Warfare Institute, March 8, 2022,


“Keep the US Retreat from Afghanistan from Emboldening China: Start by recalling precisely how deterrence works,” Defesne One, October 6, 2021,


“9/11 and the Ethics of Fear: Maintaining the High Ground in the Face of Uncertainty,” Strategic Studies Institute, August 30, 2021,


“Great Power Competition is a Dangerously Simple Frame, “Want Real Security: Create Better Digital Rules and Norms,” Defense One, October 23, 2020,


“’Disaster Diplomacy’ and the US response to COVID-19,” The New Atlanticist, April 15, 2020,


“Want Real Security? Create Better Global Digital Rules and Norms,” Defense One, October 23, 2020,


“Kadhimi’s Moment: Controlling Iraq’s Militias,” The Atlantic Council, July 17, 2020,


“Getting Past the Civil War: The Morality of Renaming U.S. Army Bases Named After Confederate Generals,” The Strategy Bridge, June 25, 2020, 


“COVID-19 and the Ethics of Military Readiness,” Special Commentary, Strategic Studies Institute, April 30, 2020,


“The Impact of COVID-19 on Civil-Military Relations,” Special Commentary, Strategic Studies Institute, May 12, 2020,


“US Strikes in Iraq and Syria: Managing the Escalation,” Atlantic Council, December 31, 2019,


Leaked Iranian intelligence about Iraq only tells part of the story, Atlantic Council, November 19, 2019


The True costs of withdrawing forces from Syria, Atlantic Council, October 15, 2019


The Saudi Oil Attacks Aren’t Game Changing. They Show How the Game Has Changed, Defense One, September 17, 2019


How to Counter Iran’s Proxies, Atlantic Council, June 18, 2019


“The Leading Narratives on War-Crimes Pardons Are Wrong, Defense One, May 2019,


“Respect for Persons and the Ethics of Autonomous Weapons and Decision Support Systems,” The Strategy Bridge, March 4, 2019,


"How (Not) to Fight Proxy Wars, National Interest, March 27, 2018,  


“Fighting Irregular Wars Well,” The Strategy Bridge, February 16, 2017,




“Optimizing and aligning the US-Iraq Relationship,” The Atlantic Council, November 3, 2022, 


Coercing Fluently: The Grammar of Coercion in the 21st Century, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, 2022,


Professionalizing Special Operations Forces, Parameters, Vol. 52, No. 3, Fall 2022,


“Western and Chinese Ways of War and Their Ethics,” Parameters, Vol. 52, No. 1 Spring, 2022,


“Military Ethics below the Threshold of War,” Parameters, Vol 50, No. 2, June, 2020,


Professionalizing the Iraqi Armed Forces, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Carlisle PA, January,  2020,


“The Ethics of Acquiring Disruptive Military Technologies,” Texas National Security Review, Vol. 3, No. 1,


“The Ethics of Acquiring Disruptive Technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Weapon and Decisions Support Systems,” Prism, Vol 8., No. 3, January, 2020,


“The Ethics of Employing Private Military Companies,” in Private Military Security Companies Influence on International Security and Foreign Policy, Edward L. Mienie and Sharon R. Hamilton, editors, University of North Georgia Press, 2019


“Ethics of Soldier Enhancement and the Lessons of WWI,” in A Persistent Fire: The Strategic Ethical Impact of World War I on the Global Profession of Arms, National Defense University Press, November 2019


“Human Security and the Arctic: Implications for the Army,” Parameters, Vol. 49 No. 1-2, Spring-Summer, 2019,   


“Five Myths of Employing Private Military Companies,” Strategic Insights Series, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA, April 5, 2019,


“Moral Autonomy and the Ethics of Soldier Enhancement,” Developing the Super Soldier: Enhancing Military Performance, Kingston Conference on International Security, June 2018


“Proxy War Norms,” Strategic Insights Series, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA, December, 2017,


“Proxy War Ethics,” Journal of National Security Law and Policy, Vol 9, No. 2, Georgetown Law School, November 2017,


“Five Myths of Military Ethics,” Parameters, Vol. 46, No. 3, Autumn 2016,


“Anticipation in Asymmetric Warfare,” in The Handbook of Anticipation, Robert Poli, ed., Springer International, March 2017


“A Crisis of Norms: Fighting Irregular Wars Well,” in Transformations of Warfare in the Contemporary World, Temple University Press, Jason Torpey, ed. June, 2016


“Risk, Military Ethics, and Irregular Warfare,” Foreign Policy Research Institute, E-Note, December, 2012,


“Aligning Means and Ends: Towards a New Way of War,” Military Review, September-October, 2011


“Ethics in Dangerous Situations,” in Leadership in Dangerous Situations, Naval Institute Press, October 2011


“Resolving Ethical Dilemmas in Combating Irregular Threats,” Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.  April, 2011


“Non-combatant Immunity and the War on Terror,” published in War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, January 2008


“Reform and Development of the Iraqi Police Forces,” published as a Letort Paper by the Strategic Studies Institute, 20 February 2008.

“Bungee Jumping off the Moral Highground: Ethics of Espionage in the Modern Age” Intelligence,” in The Ethics of Spying, Jan Goldman, ed. January 2006

“Toward an Ethics of Detention and Interrogation: Consent and Limits,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol 5, Number 23, Summer 2005

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