James Carafano

James Jay Carafano

Senior Counselor to the President and E.W. Richardson Fellow

Areas of Expertise

  • Homeland Security
  • Terrorism
  • Cybersecurity
  • Defense
  • Missile Defense

James Jay Carafano is a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges.

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James Jay Carafano is Senior Counselor to the President and E.W. Richardson Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

A leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, Carafano previously served as the Vice President of Heritage’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy.

Carafano is an accomplished historian and teacher as well as a prolific writer and researcher. His most recent publication is “Brutal War” (Lynne Reinner, 2021), a study of combat in the Southwest Pacific. He also authored “Wiki at War: Conflict in a Socially Networked World” (Texas A&M University Press, 2012), a survey of the revolutionary impact of the Internet age on national security. He was selected from thousands to speak on cyber warfare at the 2014 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas, the nation’s premier tech and social media conference.

Before assuming responsibility for Heritage’s entire defense and foreign policy team in December 2012, Carafano had served as deputy director of the Davis Institute as well as director of its Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies since 2009.

His recent research has focused on developing the national security required to secure the long-term interests of the United States—protecting the public, providing for economic growth and preserving civil liberties. (Many of his writings for Heritage appear below.)

He is editor of a book series, The Changing Face of War, which examines how emerging political, social, economic and cultural trends will affect the nature of armed conflict. From 2012 to 2014 and 2020 to 2021, he served on the Homeland Security Advisory Council convened by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Carafano, a 25-year Army veteran with a master’s and doctorate from Georgetown University, joined Heritage in 2003 as a senior research fellow in homeland security and missile defense. He worked with Kim R. Holmes, his predecessor as vice president and director of Davis Institute, to produce Heritage’s groundbreaking documentary film “33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age.”

Carafano now directs Heritage's team of foreign and defense policy experts in five centers on the front lines of international affairs: the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, the Asian Studies Center, the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, the Border Security and Immigration Center, and the Center for National Defense. 

Carafano served as president of a nonprofit organization, Esprit de Corps, which educated the public about veteran affairs. In this capacity he co-produced and co-wrote the documentaries “Veteran Nation,” an official selection of the 2013 G.I. Film Festival, and “Why We Fight: 9/11 and America's Longest War” (2018). 

Before coming to Heritage, Carafano was a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington policy institute dedicated to defense issues.

In his Army career, Carafano served in Europe, Korea and the United States. His assignments included head speechwriter for the Army Chief of Staff, the service's highest-ranking officer. Before retiring, Carafano was executive editor of Joint Force Quarterly, the Defense Department's premiere professional military journal.

A graduate of West Point, Carafano holds a master's degree and a doctorate from Georgetown University as well as a master's degree in strategy from the U.S. Army War College.

He was an adjunct professor at Hillsdale College and taught as a visiting professor at National Defense University. He previously served as an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and as director of military studies at the Army's Center of Military History. He also taught for Mount Saint Mary College in New York, the University of Chicago, Georgetown University, the National Defense University, Virgina Tech University, the Daniel Morgan Graduate School and was a fleet professor at the U.S. Naval War College.

He is the co-author with Paul Rosenzweig of Winning the Long War: Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom (2005). The authors, first to coin the term “the long war,” argued that a successful strategy requires a balance of prudent military and security measures, continued economic growth, zealous protection of civil liberties and prevailing in the “war of ideas” against terrorist ideologies.

Carafano also co-authored a textbook, Homeland Security (McGraw-Hill, third edition 2019), designed as a practical introduction to everyday life in the era of terrorism. The textbook addresses such key details as the roles of first responders and volunteers, family preparedness techniques and in-depth looks at weapons of mass destruction.

His other works include Private Sector/Public Wars: Contracting in Combat--Iraq, Afghanistan and Future Conflicts (2008); G.I. Ingenuity: Improvisation, Technology and Winning World War II (2006); Waltzing Into the Cold War (2002); and After D-Day (2000), a Military Book Club main selection.

As an expert on foreign affairs, defense, intelligence and homeland security issues, Carafano has testified many times before Congress.

He is a regular guest analyst for the major U.S. network and cable television news organizations, from ABC to Fox to MSNBC to PBS, as well as such outlets as National Public Radio, Newsmax, OANN, PJ media, Voice of America, Epoch News, and the History Channel. From SkyNews to Al Jazeera, he also has appeared on TV news programs originating in Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Canada, China, Croatia, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Carafano’s op-ed columns and commentary are published widely, including the Baltimore SunBoston GlobeNew York PostPhiladelphia InquirerUSA Today, Washington Times, Newsweek, Real Clear Politics, The National Interest, 19FortyFive and Forbes. He has been a contributing columnist at The Washington Examiner and Fox News. 

He served on the board of trustees of the Marine Corps University Foundation and advisory boards for the West Point Center of Oral History, the Hamilton Society, the Spirit of America, and the Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, which serves homeless veterans. He formerly was a senior fellow at George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute. He also previously served on the congressionally-mandated Advisory Panel on Department of Defense Capabilities for Support of Civil Authorities, the National Academy's Board on Army Science and Technology and the Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee.

In 2005, he received Heritage's prestigious W. Glenn and Rita Ricardo Campbell Award. The honor goes to the staff member determined to have made “an outstanding contribution to the analysis and promotion of the free society.”