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Dr. Erik Dahl

Erik DahlStatus
Associate Professor


Curriculum vitae

Research Interests
Intelligence; Terrorism; Security Studies; Homeland Security; National Security Policy; International Relations Theory

Erik J. Dahl joined the faculty of the Department of National Security Affairs as an assistant professor in September 2008. He received his Ph.D. from The Fletcher School of Tufts University, from which he also received a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy. Before joining NPS, from 2006 to 2008 Dahl was a pre-doctoral research fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. At NPS, Dahl also teaches on the faculty of and is the Academic Associate for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security. 

Dahl retired from the U.S. Navy in 2002 after serving 21 years as an intelligence officer. From 1999 to 2002 he served on the faculty of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he taught courses on joint military operations, intelligence, and the future of warfare.

His research focuses on intelligence, terrorism, and security studies. His book, Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond, was published by Georgetown University Press in 2013. This book examines the puzzle of why major surprise attacks—whether from terrorist or conventional military enemies—frequently succeed, even though later investigations almost always show that intelligence warnings had been available beforehand but were misunderstood or ignored. To explain the puzzle Dahl proposes a theory of preventive action, which he tests against case studies of intelligence successes and failures. In a separate project, he is conducting a study of unsuccessful terrorist plots against Americans during the past twenty years, in which he argues there are important lessons to be learned from these "plots that failed." 

Dahl's work has been published in Political Science Quarterly, Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Intelligence and National Security, Homeland Security Affairs, The Journal of Strategic Studies, the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Joint Force Quarterly, Defence Studies, and The Naval War College Review.

Prior to arriving in Monterey, he frequently served as an analyst for Boston and New England newspapers and television stations concerning intelligence, terrorism, and national security. In addition to his Ph.D. and MALD from the Fletcher School, he holds master's degrees from the London School of Economics and the Naval War College, and a bachelor's degree from Harvard College.

Recent Publications

  • “Local Approaches to Counterterrorism: The New York Police Department Model.”  Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, Vol. 9 No. 2 (2014), pp. 81-97.
  • “Finding Bin Laden: Lessons for a New American Way of Intelligence.”  Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 129 No. 2 (Summer 2014), pp. 179-210.   
  • "Why Won’t They Listen? Comparing Receptivity toward Intelligence at Pearl Harbor and Midway.”  Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 28 No. 1 (February 2013), pp. 68-90.
  • "Domestic Intelligence Today: More Security but Less Liberty?" Homeland Security Affairs , Vol. 7, The 9/11 Essays, September 2011.
  • "The Plots That Failed: Intelligence Lessons Learned from Unsuccessful Terrorist Attacks against the United States." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism , Vol. 34 No. 8 (August 2011), pp. 621-648.
  • "Missing the Wake-up Call: Why Intelligence Failures Rarely Inspire Improved Performance." Intelligence and National Security 25/6 (December 2010), pp. 778-799.
  • "Intelligence and Terrorism," in Robert Denemark et al., eds., The International Studies Encyclopedia, part of the International Studies Association Compendium Project (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

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