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.


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]

September 20, 2018

Michael McDevitt says, “As China’s military power grows relative to the United States, and it will, questions will also grow regarding America’s ability to deter Beijing’s use of force in settling its unresolved territorial issues.”

The New York Times: “China’s Sea Control Is a Done Deal, ‘Short of War With the U.S.’”

July 18, 2018

Michael McDevitt writes in chapter 7, “On any given day, the PLA Navy (PLAN) has an average of between 4-5 warships (including on occasion a submarine) and two support vessels, organized into two independent Task Forces, operating somewhere in the Indian Ocean.”

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation: “Policy Recommendations by the Quadripartite Commission on the Indian Ocean Regional Security”

July 18, 2018

Nilanthi Samaranayake and Michael McDevitt participated in the International Conference on Security of the Indian Ocean Region and contributed to policy recommendations for a more stable security environment in the region.

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation: “Policy Recommendations by the Quadripartite Commission on the Indian Ocean Regional Security”

June 27, 2018

Michael McDevitt says, “What vital U.S. interest has been compromised? Shipping continues uninterrupted, the U.S. continues to ignore… their requirement for prior approval, our MDT with Manila remains in force…”

CIMSEC: “False Assumptions May Lead to Counterproductive U.S. Policy in the South China Sea”