Samuel Plapinger, Ph.D.
Research Scientist


Samuel Plapinger is an expert in international security and Middle East affairs, specializing in great power competition, military operations and tactics, combat effectiveness, irregular warfare, and logistics. His recent research topics at CNA include maritime prepositioning, force design, competition short of armed conflict, command structure alignment, and naval integration. He currently serves as the CNA Field Representative to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Fifth Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces in Bahrain.

Prior to joining CNA, Plapinger was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence (OCV) at Yale University, and he worked as a summer associate and adjunct researcher at the RAND Corporation. At the University of Virginia, he was a teaching assistant and research assistant. In his dissertation, Plapinger outlined a framework for assessing insurgent military effectiveness during combat, leveraging 15 months of field and archival research that included 105 interviews he conducted in Arabic with ex-insurgents and former military and intelligence officials in Jordan and Lebanon. In support of this work, he received funding from Yale, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, and the Zeit Foundation.

Plapinger has a Ph.D. and M.A. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University (Connecticut), with a double major in government and economics and a certificate in international relations. He is fluent in written and spoken Arabic, and has intermediate Spanish ability.