Whitney Grespin

Foreign Policy Scholar and Practitioner

Washington, DC

Whitney Grespin

places to go, people to see, things to do


​The Easy Button: Foreign Military Training as an Exit Plan.

David Brown, Donette Murray, Malte Riemann and Norma Rossi, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst has been educating, training and inspiring members of the British Army since 1947. The Sandhurst series is a cutting edge forum and platform for original thought and debate on military and security matters within the contemporary international security environment.
Howgate Publishing Link to Story

The Quiet Professionals: The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces

After decades of development and myriad silent successes that the general population will likely never hear about, SOF's value has been proven repeatedly (and more publicly) since 9/11 than ever before. In the years ahead, the future of SOF is likely to look less like Act of Valor and more like Rudyard Kipling’s Kim.
Diplomatic Courier Link to Story

Bamyan After The Buddhas (Photo Essay)

One of the most beautiful yet least-known places on earth, the Bamyan Valley, is primarily remembered for the tragedy that befell the region in early 2001. Eight months before the September 11 attacks, the Taliban destroyed the two colossal sandstone Buddha statues that had stood as sentinels over the central Afghan valley of Bamyan since the 6th century.
Foreign Policy Link to Story

A Diamond in the Rough: The American University of Afghanistan

As the United States continues to withdraw troops and materiel from Afghanistan, the rhetoric from President Hamid Karzai's administration wavers between being fairly pro-American and caustically anti-American, and speculation about reconciliatory negotiations with the Taliban and other insurgent groups abound, it is difficult to remain optimistic about the durability of institutions America has helped build in Afghanistan. However, there is one institution that stands out amongst its peers as a clear success story. ..
Foreign Policy Link to Story

Stability and Development: Getting Strong and Looking Long

Much as the international development and community health paradigm preaches that “you have to get healthy before you can get wealthy,” the same goes for the well-being of states. A country lacking a stable rule of law and robust civil society also wants for social and economic infrastructure that is hospitable to viable long-term development.
Stability Operations Magazine Link to Story

Outside View: The militarization of aid

U.S. military and international aid infrastructures grew in recent decades and their identities have diverged in the public eye but in practice are increasingly intertwined.
UPI (United Press International) Link to Story

From Here to Timbuktu

Recent events in Mali illustrate how ideological radicals attempt to disassemble a cultural identity step by step, first through objects and then beliefs. The vision of the Buddhas of Bamyan crumbling to the valley floor at the hands of the Taliban was a foreshadowing of the crippled Twin Towers collapsing onto themselves.
Fair Observer° Link to Story

Building the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers

The activities of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in armed conflicts have traditionally drawn minimal attention when compared to their historic presence and importance. Such entrepreneurs have played a role in wars from ancient times through present conflicts, though the media paid only peripheral coverage to their modern practices until scandals of the past decade.
Diplomatic Courier Link to Story

From the Ground Up: The Importance of Preserving SOF Capacity Building Skills

The last decade of international engagements marks a shift in the way that the American military fights wars and mitigates conflict overseas. Although America has long had an affinity for creative destruction and cycles of force buildup and tear down, it is increasingly apparent that such an approach is not a viable option for the U.S. military’s path ahead. After a decade of costly conflict with large conventional forces and an abundance of direct action operations, the American way of war is evolving towards less muscle, more mind. To this end, the specialized training, mentoring, and capacity building skills that Special Operations Forces (SOF) receive must remain a priority in an era of fiscal austerity and streamlined resources. It is easier to strengthen security forces than to strengthen governance and the drivers that combat instability. As SOF returns to a focus on partner capacity building programs rather than direct action missions, the lessons learned of the last twelve years of international security assistance programs must be embraced and codified rather than allowed to atrophy, as is often the case when the United States military reorients its attention to new policy priorities. Reliance on external nations and allied partners, coupled with the strategic direction to employ innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint indirect approaches to prevent conflict, have made SOF a resource of choice for both Combatant Commanders and military strategists.
Journal of Strategic Security Link to Story

Well-Behaved Defense Contractors Seldom Make History

Although stability operations and contingency contracting may not be the biggest industry in the world, “You’d have a hard time finding another industry that has a greater impact in places that matter.”. This observation, offered by a former commander of U.S. The events of 9/11 resulted in the rapid reorientation of American foreign engagement in Afghanistan, and later Iraq.
War on the Rocks Link to Story

40 Miles, 3 Notches, and Countless Pints: A Tale of Charlottesville

Nestled in the Piedmont foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lying about 120 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., is the storied town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville was chartered in 1762 by the Virginia General Assembly at a spot central to Albemarle County’s boundaries, and lying along a key 71-mile trade route called Three Notch’d Road, which led westward from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley.
War on the Rocks Link to Story

Bala Hissar

Take a visual tour of Bala Hissar, or the "High Fort" of Kabul, an ancient fortress that has housed Afghan rulers for centuries and is still in use today.
Foreign Policy Link to Story


Whitney Grespin

Whitney has overseen security sector reform/security force assistance, development, and education programs on five continents. In addition to earning a BA in Art History from Duquesne University and a Master’s in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, she holds a professional certificate in Project Management from Georgetown University and teaching licensure through Penn State's School of Behavioral Sciences and Education. She is a PhD candidate at King's College London's Defence Studies Department under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Kinsey.

In the past, Whitney was selected to participate in the inaugural class of the Eurasia Foundation’s Young Professionals Network, served as a programming staff member and Research Fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, and was named to the 2013 "99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders" list. She is currently a participant in the Jamestown Foundation's Young Professionals Program and the CSIS Africa Policy Accelerator. She is also an active member of the Society of Woman Geographers, the National Press Club, serves on the Executive Committee of the Peace Studies Section of the International Studies Association (ISA), and is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations.



  • Capacity Building
  • Somalia
  • Afghanistan
  • Contingency Contracting
  • Foreign Internal Defense (FID)
  • Travel writing
  • Editing
  • Ghost writing
  • Proposal writing
  • Analysis
  • International Affairs
  • Government Contracting
  • Security Sector Reform (SSR)