Joseph Gagliano, Ph.D.

Military Professor National Security Affairs
Capt., U.S. Navy
Joseph Gagliano faculty photo


Dr. Joseph Gagliano, Capt. USN, holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in international relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. He has worked as the Director for Defense Policy and Strategy for the National Security Council at the White House; Deputy Director for Navy Plans and Policy; China Desk Officer on the Joint Staff; head of strategic plans for China, Russia, North Korea and Iran; and Director of the Strategic Integration Group for the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. He commanded Destroyer Squadron 60 and Task Force 65. He is the author of three books, including "Between Allied and Alone" (Routledge) and "Congressional Policymaking in Sino-U.S. Relations" (Routledge).

Contact Information

Areas of Expertise

  • Asia-Pacific
  • China
  • Civil-Military Relations
  • Deterrence
  • Diplomacy
  • Foreign Policy
  • International Relations
  • Maritime Strategy
  • National Security
  • South China Sea

Professional Highlights


Director, Navy Strategic Integration Group

Led a team of strategic planners and communications professionals to pursue Navy-wide initiatives on behalf of the Chief of Naval Operations and Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Developed the strategic framework that drove near-term and long-term strategic goals.

Deputy Director for Navy Plans and Policy

Led a team of 60 strategic planners and foreign area officers in developing Navy plans and policies worldwide. Developed actionable engagement plans to deepen alliances and broaden partnerships. Oversaw Navy contributions to joint operational plans against all potential adversaries.

Commodore, Destroyer Squadron 60 and Task Force 65

Led a team of 50 naval operations professionals to direct ships operating around Europe and Africa. Drove an expansion of U.S.-Spanish relations to integrate local efforts in Spain and cooperative operations throughout the Mediterranean and Atlantic.

National Security Council Director for Defense Policy and Strategy

Led White House defense strategy and policy, with a focus on regional issues in East Asia and the Pacific, and maritime issues worldwide. Coordinated whole-of-government efforts across all executive branch departments and agencies to build consensus for achieving the President’s priorities.

Joint Staff China Desk Officer

Oversaw Joint Staff defense strategy and policy for China issues in East Asia and the Pacific. During direct military-to-military talks in Beijing and Washington, served as the U.S. military specialist for South China Sea territorial disputes and island reclamation.


Ph.D., Tufts University, The Fletcher School, 2011, International Relations

M.A., U.S. Naval War College, 2011, National Security and Strategic Studies

M.A., Tufts University, The Fletcher School, 2008, Law and Diplomacy

B.S., U.S. Naval Academy, 1996

Research Contributions and Publications

Surface Warfare Officer's Department Head Guide
Co-authored with Fred Kacher and Samantha A. O’Neil
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2022

“The White House”
In Naval Officer’s Guide to the Pentagon
Edited by Fred Kacher and Doug Robb
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2019

Between Allied and Alone: Alliance Decision-Making in the South China Sea
Oxford: Routledge, 2019

“Blurred Lines: Twenty-First Century Maritime Security in the South China Sea”
In Eurasia’s Maritime Rise and Global Security: From the Indian Ocean to Pacific Asia and the Arctic
Edited by Geoffrey F. Gresh
London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017

“Respect and Resolve are not Mutually Exclusive”
Proceedings 142, no. 10 (October 2016): 32-37.

Shiphandling Fundamentals for the Littoral Combat Ship and New Frigates
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2015

Congressional Policymaking in Sino-U.S. Relations during the Post-Cold War Era
Oxford: Routledge, 2014

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