US Naval War College Logo
Contact Us
Site Map
NWC on Facebook NWC on Twitter NWC on Flickr NWC on Blackboard
Dr. Adam Cobb

Dr. Adam Cobb

Research Professor and Director, Mahan Advanced Research Project
Warfare Analysis & Research


Dr. Adam Cobb is a Research Professor and the Director of the Mahan Advanced Research Project (ARP). Professor Cobb comes to the Naval War College from the Strategic Policy and Plans Division of US Special Operations Command in Tampa Florida. As a Principal Strategist in the J5, Dr. Cobb was responsible for Counterproliferation (CP) policy and plans. Inter alia, he was the author of the new CP Operating Concept (v1) and Commanders Guidance (v1) that will be released after the change of command in Aug 2014. Dr Cobb contributed to other SOF policies having been deeply involved in producing the USSOCOM Strategic Assessment and Operational Concept. His collateral duties included being a Senior Associate of the USSOCOM Red Team and an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Intelligence at National Intelligence University.

Professor Cobb is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the
Royal United Services Institute, London, and has been a Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge. He has testified before the National Intelligence Council, the US China Economic & Security Review Commission, and he has been a panelist in the Tswalu Protocol. Professor Cobb read History with Professor Sir Harry Hinsley (Official Historian of British Intelligence) and Wartime Codebreaker at St John's College, Cambridge. Professor Cobb’s career has had a maritime orientation ever since he attended the Britannia Royal Naval College as a Midshipman in the Royal Navy (UK). More recently, he served for 4 years as a Professor at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico VA 2008-12.

Dr Cobb has enhanced strategic decision making for the following organizations:

• HQ United States Special Operations Command
• HQ United States Marine Corps, Intelligence Department
• HQ United States Air Force, A5/XS Skunk Works
• Joint Chiefs of Staff (Af-Pak Coordination Cell)
• Commander ISAF, GEN McChrystal (Federation Forum)
• Commanding General of a Joint Special Operations Task Force
• Special Operations Command Pacific
• Commander Amphibious Squadron (numerous) 
• Commander Marine Expeditionary Unit (numerous) 
• Commander Regimental Combat Team (numerous)
• Commanding Officer Joint Special Operations Task Force 
• Commander Naval Special Warfare Tactical Squadron

Specialties: Strategic analysis, CWMD, Special Operations strategy and plans, intelligence, cyber warfare, energy security, defense policy, foreign policy, counterinsurgency, and Asia Pacific security.

Notable Policy Achievements

  • Advised a SOF-TF on WMD issues in the Asia Pacific region. Created an operational design construct underpinning the F3EA planning process regarding a matter of national importance. Briefed the Commanding General of Joint Special Operations Command, as part of a daylong deep dive planning session.
  • Advised Skunk Works (A5/XS) on C-WMD war game. Subsequently contracted to lead the design and facilitation of the USAF Chief of Staff Title X War Game - Unified Engagement India 2010. Designed comprehensive set of scenarios related to air and ground operations involving a high-altitude terrain nuclear counter proliferation war game for General Officers of the USAF and IAF.
  • Sole author of a major study into Marine Corps Intel-Ops Integration at all echelons of command commissioned by the Director of Intelligence (USMC). Engaged more than 80 senior combat leaders and their staff’s at Battalion, Regimental, Division, MEF and MARFOR levels of command. Resulted in 3 publications in international journals and books.
  • By-name request by Deputy Commodore, PHIBRON 11, for strategic assessments with regard to suitable Theater Security Cooperation engagement locations to work with the Republic of Korea’s Marine Corps. Provided detailed advice on fleet positioning so as to demonstrate US resolve in international waters while at the same time presenting a non-provocative profile to the DPRK.
  • Lead analyst for the Australian Parliament Defense Office charged with assessing future political and military requirements in response to the East Timor crisis. The commander of INTERFET, General Peter Cosgrove AC, (later) Chief of the Australian Defense Force, wrote:

He had written a detailed strategic assessment of the situation in East Timor, presenting both a concise background to events as well as a quite prescient set of scenarios covering how events might unfold. He correctly identified a number of key issues plaguing my planners, such as the need to bring a further Brigade to operational readiness and the requirement to rapidly enhance our strategic lift capabilities. Overall, my commanders and I found Dr. Cobb’s work a valuable contribution to our understanding of important issues before us.

Notable Academic Achievements

  • 8 years of distinguished service as Associate, then full Professor in US PME, at USAF Air War College and USMC Command and Staff College.
  • USMC CSC's resident SME for Afghanistan as well as two of CMC's top priorities - energy security and cyber warfare.
  • Primary author and developer of challenging advanced graduate level curriculum across a spectrum of strategic issues.
  • Started the first Energy Security Elective in US PME at Air War College in 2007. Built curriculum from the ground up and refined over the years while publishing in the field.
  • Visiting Professor of Energy Security at War College of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia having taught a future Saudi General at Maxwell.
  • Pushed for and gained acceptance of the first Cyberwarfare course at Quantico when the Corps was focused on COIN.
  • Taught courses on ‘Foundations of Strategy’; ‘Regional and Cultural Studies: Southeast Asia’, ‘Irregular Warfare’; ‘Cultural and Interagency Operations’; ‘Addiction and War: Oil and the Quest for Global mastery’ to O-4-6 students drawn from all 5 US military services and students from 45 allied countries.
  • Supervised more than 60 Master’s theses
  • Students under my supervision won the Top Research Award at Quantico 3 years running. Each year 1-2 others were also research prize winners.
  • Voted best lecture in strategy Air War College 2007 for lecture on Cyberwarfare.
  • Routinely assessed by student evaluations as a top Professor and mentor despite a reputation as rigorous enforcer of academic standards.


  • USN Monetary Awards for Developing and Presenting an Intelligence Assessment on Asia Pacific Security for PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2009; and COMPHIBRON 7 2008
  • USAF Monetary Award in recognition of Outstanding Service to Air War College 2008
  • USAF Air War College, Top Research Award 2008
  • USAF Organizational Excellence Award 2007
  • Visiting Fellowship, Wolfson College, Cambridge University, 2008
  • Australian Parliamentary Fellowship 1998
  • Visiting Fellowship, Strategic and Defense Studies Center, Research School of Asia Pacific Studies, Australian National University 1997


  • PhD - History, St John’s College, University of Cambridge, 1997
  • MA - Strategic Studies, Australian National University, 1992
  • BA - Political Science and History, University of Sydney, 1991
    • (Exchange to UT Austin and UC Berkeley)

Positions Held

  • Research Professor and Director, Mahan Advanced Research Program, US Navy, 6/2014-present
  • Board Member, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Journal, London, 1/2014-present
  • Principal Strategist, US Special Operations Command, 2/2013-6/2014
  • Adjunct Professor, National Intelligence University, 1/2014-6/2014
  • Deputy Coordinator for Special Operations (Asia-Pac), US Special Operations Command, 6/2012-2/2013
  • Professor of International Relations, United States Marine Corps, Command and Staff College, 6/2008-6/2012
  • Associate Professor of Strategy, United States Air Force, Air War College, 6/2005-6/2008
  • President and CEO, Stratwise Strategic Intelligence, Sydney, Australia, 6/2001-6/2005
  • Special-Director, Strategic Policy, Royal Australian Air Force, 1/2000-6/2001
  • Senior Defense Adviser, Parliament of Australia, 1/1999-1/2000
  • Australian Parliamentary Fellow, Parliament of Australia, 1/1998-1/1999
  • Research Fellow, Strategic and Defense Studies Center, Australian National University, 1/1997-1/1998
  • Elected Representative, Cambridge University Council, 1993-1996
  • Visiting Lecturer, University of Amsterdam, 1992-1993
  • Staff, Member of United States Congress, 8/1990-12/1990
  • Congressional Liaison Office, Embassy of Australia, Washington DC 4/1990-8/1990
  • Midshipman, Royal Navy (UK), 1988






Material and external links contained herein are made available for the purpose of peer review and discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Naval War College, Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense.