October 6, 2021
10:30 am - 11:30 am


Zoom Webinar

Created in June 2020, MEI’s Defense Leadership Series is a speakers' forum for current and former high-level military and defense leaders from both the United States and the Middle East to discuss the most important policy issues facing the two sides. The series was inaugurated on June 10, 2020 with a conversation with U.S. Marine Corps General and Commander of CENTCOM Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.

In this episode, MEI Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense and Security Program Bilal Y. Saab speaks to Mara Karlin, who is performing the duties of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. This conversation will focus on the Biden administration's approach to national security and regional security affairs in the Middle East and North Africa. 


Dr. Mara Karlin is Performing the Duties of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Dr. Karlin was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities on August 17, 2021.

Prior to taking on this role, Dr. Karlin served as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and she served on the policy team for the Biden-Harris Transition. Karlin was Director of Strategic Studies and an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Previously, she served in national security roles for five U.S. secretaries of defense, advising on policies spanning strategic planning, defense policy and budgeting, future conflicts, and regional security affairs.

She started her government career as a civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and has received the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award. She is the author of two books on defense policy and military history.