Joseph Felter


Dr. Joseph Felter joined CISAC as a senior research scholar in September 2011. As of July 2017, Dr. Felter is on leave from Stanford University while he serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia.

Felter retired from the US Army as a Colonel following a career as a Special Forces and foreign area officer with distinguished service in a variety of special operations and diplomatic assignments. He has conducted foreign internal defense and security assistance missions across East and Southeast Asia and has participated in combat deployments to Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Prior to arriving at CISAC, he led the International Security and Assistance Force, Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT) in Afghanistan reporting directly to Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus and advising them on counterinsurgency strategy. Felter held leadership positions in the US Army Rangers and Special Forces and directed the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point from 2005-2008. He is Co-Director of the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC) and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

He has published many scholarly articles on the topic of  counterinsurgency and has focused on the study of how to address the root causes of terrorism and political violence. Some highlights include: “Aid Under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict” with Benjamin Crost and Patrick Johnston (American Economic Review), "Can Hearts and Minds be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq," with Eli Berman and Jacob N. Shapiro (Journal of Political Economy), and "Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines," with Eli Berman, Michael Callen, and Jacob N. Shapiro (Journal of Conflict Resolution).

Felter holds a BS from West Point, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University.