Strategic Assessment of a Hard Target: North Korea | 2021 | Events

Strategic Assessment of a Hard Target: North Korea
Markus Garlauskas
Markus V. Garlauskas
Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s Asia Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council
February 24, 2021


North Korea's resolute advancement of its nuclear and missile programs, in defiance of international pressure, poses one of the top challenges to security and stability in the world today. Yet, as a secretive “hard target” closed to most outsiders and shrouded in falsehoods, it can be difficult for outside observers to discern fact from fiction on North Korea--particularly when trying to anticipate, or even understand, North Korea's behavior. Mr. Markus Garlauskas, formerly the US National Intelligence Officer for North Korea, and the designer of a new graduate course in Strategic Assessment of North Korea for Georgetown University's Security Studies program, has spent two decades helping top US civilian officials and military officers cut through this fog of uncertainty with his rigorous strategic analysis. In this discussion, he will share some of his own experiences dealing with North Korea issues, outline relevant strategic analytic methodologies, and provide some of the toplines of his own forecast on what to expect from North Korea in the months and years ahead.


Markus V. Garlauskas is a nonresident senior fellow with the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s Asia Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council. He served in the US government for nearly twenty years, and has been an independent author, speaker, and consultant since departing government service last summer. He was appointed to the Senior National Intelligence Service as the National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for North Korea on the National Intelligence Council from July 2014 to June 2020. As NIO, he led the US intelligence community’s strategic analysis on North Korea issues and expanded analytic outreach to non-government experts. He also provided direct analytic support to top-level policy deliberations, including the presidential transition, as well as the Singapore and Hanoi summits with North Korea.

Mr. Garlauskas also served for nearly twelve years overseas at the headquarters of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and US Forces Korea in Seoul. His staff assignments there included chief of the Intelligence Estimates Branch and director of the Strategy Division. For his service in Korea, he received the Joint Civilian Distinguished Service Award, the highest civilian award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He holds a MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University, and a BA in History from Kent State University. He is an adjunct professor in Georgetown University's Security Studies Program, teaching a new course of his own design this semester, titled "Strategic Assessment: North Korea."