Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt, (retired)
Senior Fellow


Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt focuses on U.S. security issues in East Asia. He founded CNA's Strategic Studies division in 2000, and since stepping down as a Vice President in 2012 has been active as a Senior Fellow, leading several major projects related to maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas and China's ambition to become a "great" maritime power. He also developed a major project that analyzed significant security issues along the entire Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean littoral from a maritime perspective. His other expertise includes strategy, war planning and naval operations worldwide.

During his 34-year naval career, McDevitt held four at-sea commands, including command of an aircraft carrier battle group. He spent all of his operational time in the Pacific, including a two-year assignment in Sasebo, Japan. McDevitt was Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group Fellow at the Naval War College and has been the Director of the East Asia Policy Office for the Secretary of Defense. He also served as the Director for Strategy, War Plans and Policy (J-5) for U.S. CINCPAC. McDevitt concluded his active-duty career as the Commandant of the National War College in Washington, D.C.

McDevitt holds an M.A. in American Diplomatic History from Georgetown University and a B.A. in U.S. History from the University of Southern California. He is also a graduate of the National War College.


June 3, 2020

Rear Adm. (Ret.) Michael McDevitt writes, "In 1962 it was China's military action that initiated the process that has led to today's base at Diego Garcia and today it is China's Indian Ocean military footprint that increases the value of Diego Garcia beyond its continuing role in supporting US military operations in the Persian Gulf region."

War on the Rocks: "America's Interest in Diego Garcia"

January 17, 2020

Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt (Ret.) says, "China is becoming as dependent as we are on space, cyber networks, and so without their ability to surveil the open ocean, they can't use their anti-ship ballistic missiles; they don't know where to vector their diesel submarine; they don't know where to launch their land-based aircraft."

Military Times: "Congress Wrestles With Deterring China ? Beyond Nukes"

August 30, 2019

Michael McDevitt says, "The reality on the ground is that China has occupied the entire Paracel group for 40 years and, short of military action by Vietnam to recapture the archipelago, will never leave."

CNN: "The Tiny Islands That Could Explode the China-Vietnam Relationship"

March 6, 2019

Michael McDevitt says, "Between 1950 and 1953, the U.S. Air Force and Navy flattened North Korea, so the NORKS have had 65 years to think about how to make sure that does not happen again and dig lots of bomb proof shelters and tunnels,"

The National Interest: "Stealth Strike: North Korea vs. America's F-22, F-35 and B-2 Bombers"

October 16, 2018

Michael McDevitt says, “What this suggests to me is that Beijing is fed up with freedom of navigation operations and elected to violate the memorandum of understanding that the US and China agreed to three years ago about how they behave when warships are around each other.”

The Guardian: “U.S.-China Tensions Soar as 'New Cold War' Heats Up”

September 22, 2018

Michael McDevitt says, “China is essentially, through the use of this historic rights claim, trying to snatch 60% of the resources that ought to belong to Vietnam and the Philippines.”

BBC World News: “The Chinese Government’s Ambition in the South China Sea” [Interview at 37:00]

Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Program