Capt. Peter Swartz, (retired)
Adjunct Principal Research Scientist


Peter Swartz is an expert on Navy strategy, policy, operations and military history, organization, and culture. His recent work has examined Navy strategy, the organizational history of the Navy and OPNAV, US Navy international relationships, and US interservice relationships, policies, and doctrine. He has analyzed alternative Navy global fleet deployment models; lessons learned from past Navy operations in homeland defense, counterpiracy, and irregular warfare; the Navy's role in the Unified Command Plan; and the relationships between Navy strategy, programming, and budgeting.

Prior to joining CNA, Swartz served for 26 years as a Navy officer, primarily in strategy, plans, and policy. He served two tours in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War as an advisor to the Republic of Vietnam Navy and on the staff of Vice Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. He played a leading role in conceptualizing and drafting the Navy's Maritime Strategy of the 1980s, serving on the staff of successive chiefs of naval operations and of Secretary of the Navy John Lehman. He was director of defense operations for the US Mission to NATO as the Berlin Wall was coming down and served as special assistant to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell during the First Gulf War.

Swartz holds an M.Phil. in political science from Columbia University, an MA in international relations from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and a BA in international relations from Brown University. He is conversant in French and understands Vietnamese. In 2020, the Naval Historical Foundation awarded him its prestigious Commodore Dudley W. Knox medal for lifetime achievement in naval history and 20 of his colleagues, mentees, and mentors from around the world contributed to a Festschrift in his honor, Conceptualizing Maritime and Naval Strategy, published in Germany by Nomos.


October 30, 2020

"An oral history interview with Captain Peter M. Swartz, USN (Ret.), was conducted on 24 July 2019 . . . The wide-ranging, candid conversation covered Captain Swartz's antecedents, his two combat tours in Vietnam as a junior officer; his assignments to key policy directorates of the OPNAV staff; his final tour as an executive assistant to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin L. Powell; and his post-retirement career with Center for Naval Analyses (CNA)."

Naval History and Heritage Command: "Oral History of Captain Peter M. Swartz, USN (Ret.)"

June 26, 2019

According to the CNA report, The Origins and Development of A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, CNO Greenert "was looking for a document that was generally authoritative for any audience: The naval officer corps, Capitol Hill, [Office of the Secretary of Defense], friends and allies, potential adversaries . . . whomever."

Naval War College Review: "Running Silent and Algorithmic: The U.S. Navy Strategic Vision in 2019" [pg. 36]

May 1, 2019

Peter Swartz says, "Part of the reason I don't finish is because I read something else that gets me mad, and causes me to reflect, and I charge off researching that instead of finishing up the last piece."

Proceedings: "A Naval Strategist Speaks"

May 1, 2019

Peter Swartz says, "The CNA guys were using open sources, Russian open sources, and pooh-poohed for that. And it turned out that the Russian open sources, for the very reasons that they had always argued, turned out to be the most accurate place to go for your stuff."

U.S. Naval Institute: "Proceedings Podcast Episode 78 - Peter Swartz Talks Naval Strategy" [36:33]

May 1, 2019

Peter Swartz writes, "While Mobley unearths more fascinating early war plans, and Hone gives us more at-sea combat actions, both books are really about the development of the thinking of previous generations of U.S. Navy officers."

Proceedings: "Progressives in Navy Blue and Learning War Book Reviews"

April 19, 2019

The author describes Peter Swartz's long career in service to our nation, "Joining CNA in the early 1990s, Swartz earned a reputation as an expert on Navy strategy, policy, and operations and on military history, organization, and culture."

Pull Together: "Peter M. Swartz: Using Naval History to Develop Maritime Strategy"