Frank O’Donnell

Nonresident Fellow

South Asia

Frank O’Donnell is a Nonresident Fellow with Stimson’s South Asia Program. His areas of expertise include nuclear doctrine and posture development, conventional military modernization, and national security policymaking processes in Southern Asia. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the National Security Affairs Department at the US Naval War College. He has been a Stanton Junior Faculty Fellow and Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, an Assistant Professor (UK: Lecturer) at the Britannia Royal Naval College, and has also held research positions at the University of Aberdeen and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

Frank’s work includes a co-authored book evaluating inadvertent and accidental escalation risks within the China-India-Pakistan trilateral nuclear rivalry (Georgetown University Press, 2018); a U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute book on Indian nuclear force developments and their relevance for U.S. regional strategic interests; and articles on South Asian security topics in Asian Security, Asian Survey, Comparative Strategy, Contemporary Security Policy, Orbis, and Survival journals. His commentary on these issues has also appeared on NPR, The Hindu, the Times of India, and other international media. He is an editorial board member of the US Air Force Journal of Indo–Pacific Affairs.  

Frank holds a Ph.D. in Defense Studies from King’s College London, an M.Sc. in Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen, and an M.A. in International Relations and Middle East Studies from the University of St. Andrews.

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The Influence of Arms: Explaining the Durability of India–Russia Alignment

This article was originally published in The Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs.

China Is Taking Advantage of India’s Intelligence Failures

This article was originally published by Foreign Policy and was co-authored by Sumit Ganguly

Ladakh border crisis places further pressure on India’s nuclear boundaries

This article was originally published in 9DASHLINE.

Lessons from the Ladakh crisis

This article was originally published by the Observer Research Foundation.

The Strategic Postures of China and India: A Visual Guide

Fueled by aggressive rhetoric from both capitals, Indian and Chinese ground forces engaged in a standoff between June and August 2017. The Doklam crisis, as it became known, stimulated introspection among officials and experts in both states about the…

India’s nuclear counter-revolution: nuclear learning and the future of deterrence

This article was originally published in The Nonproliferation Review Journal on March 26, 2020.

India is building nuclear submarines and ICBMs. That’s a $14 billion mistake.

This article was originally published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

NWC Talks: Nuclear Southern Asia with Frank O’Donnell

This talk was given as part of the Naval War College’s public engagement, on inadvertent and accidental escalation risks in contemporary Southern Asia. In this episode, Frank ODonnell focuses on the intersection of China, India and Pakistan, discu…

Policy Paper
Review Essay: Stabilizing Nuclear Southern Asia

This review article considers three significant volumes recently published in the field of Southern Asian security studies. These consist of Not War, Not Peace? Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross-Border Terrorism, by Toby Dalton and George Perkovich;…

Stimson in the News
Frank O’Donnell quoted on India’s recent anti-satellite technology test

In an incremental advance, India on Wednesday successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test, named Mission Shakti, becoming the fourth country in the world to demonstrate the capability to shoot down satellites in orbit. So far, only the…

Commitment traps make Kashmir de-escalation tricky

On 14 February 2018, a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide car bomber attacked an Indian paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force convoy in the Pulwama area of India-governed Kashmir. Over 40 Indian police personnel died in the assault, making it one of th…

Security and the Belt and Road Initiative

In this piece, O’Donnell discusses the security concerns of the Belt and Road Initiative, the new ‘security guarantee’ principle and possible responses to the BRI. O’Donnell’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the Departmen…

Policy Paper
Managing Indian deterrence: pressures on credible minimum deterrence and nuclear policy options

India is developing new nuclear force options in response to what it perceives as a deteriorating strategic environment. New Delhi has historically adhered to the nuclear strategic concept of “credible minimum deterrence,” defined as maintaining a smal…

U.S. anti-missile cyber defense could be less effective than claimed

Amid all the conversation around Bob Woodward’s “Fear,” there was a small detail that largely escaped public notice: U.S. cyberattack capabilities against adversary missile programs are weaker than publicly claimed. Woodward reports President Obama had…

The “Global Britain” concept and UK policy toward India

This submission addresses the call for evidence regarding the following questions: “What are India’s perceptions of the Global Britain strategy?”; What should be the main objectives for the UK’s future relationship with India?”; “How effective are the…

Stimson in the News
Frank O’Donnell Op-Ed on the Militarization of OBOR the full article here

Stimson in the News
Frank O’Donnell Quoted on OBOR

  Read the full article here

India and Nuclear Asia

By Yogesh Joshi and Frank O’Donnell India’s nuclear profile, doctrine, and practices have evolved rapidly since the country’s nuclear breakout in 1998. However, the outside world’s understanding of India’s doctrinal debates, forward-looking strategy, a…

Book Review of The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan

In the International Journal of Military History and Historiography Volume 37, Issue 2 (2017), Frank O’Donnell reviewed Aqil Shah’s The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan. “This book serves as an invaluable resource for scholars, an…

Stimson in the News
Frank O’Donnell Op-Ed on Nuclear Posture Review

Read article here.

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