Robert Spalding is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute. His work focuses on U.S.-China relations, economic and national security, and the Asia-Pacific military balance.
Spalding has served in senior positions of strategy and diplomacy within the Defense and State Departments for more than 26 years, and is an accomplished innovator in government and a national security policy strategist. As Senior Director for Strategy to the President, he was the chief architect of the framework for national competition in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy (NSS). He has earned recognition for his knowledge of Chinese economic competition, cyber warfare, and political influence, as well as for his ability to forecast global trends and develop innovative solutions.
Spalding’s relationship with business leaders, fostered during his time as a Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, allowed him to recommend pragmatic solutions to complex foreign policy and national security issues, which are driving positive economic outcomes for the nation. Spalding’s groundbreaking work on competition in Secure 5G has reset the global environment for the next phase of cyber security in the information age.
Spalding is a skilled combat leader, promoter of technological advances to achieve improved unit performance, and a seasoned diplomat. Under Spalding’s leadership, the 509th Operations Group—the nation’s only B-2 Stealth Bomber unit—experienced unprecedented technological and operational advances. Spalding’s demonstrated acumen for solving complex technological issues to achieve operational success, was demonstrated when he led a low-cost rapid-integration project for a secure global communications capability in the B-2, achieving tremendous results at almost no cost to the government. As commander, he led forces in the air and on the ground in Libya and Iraq. During the UUV Incident of 2016, Spalding averted a diplomatic crisis by negotiating with the Chinese PLA for the return of the UUV, without the aid of a translator.
Spalding has written extensively on national security matters. He is currently working on a book concerning national competition in the 21st Century. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Foreign Affairs, The American Interest, War on the Rocks, FedTech Magazine, Defense One, The Diplomat, and other edited volumes. His Air Power Journal article on America’s Two Air Forces is frequently used in the West Point curriculum.
Spalding is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has lectured globally, including engagements at the Naval War College, National Defense University, Air War College, Columbia University, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and other Professional Military Educational institutions. Spalding received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Agricultural Business from California State University, Fresno, and holds a doctorate in economics and mathematics from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He was a distinguished graduate of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, and is fluent in Chinese Mandarin.