Architect of Obama’s Asia ‘Pivot’ to Head Biden’s Indo-Pacific Policy

Kurt Campbell led Obama's Asia policy from the State Department

A key architect of President Obama’s Asia “pivot” is taking a top position on the incoming Biden administration’s National Security Council (NSC).

Kurt Campbell will serve as coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the NSC as a deputy to Jake Sullivan, Biden’s pick for national security advisor. Campbell’s appointment is a sign that Biden plans to prioritize alliance building in the Indo-Pacific to counter Beijing.

Campbell served as the State Department’s top Asia diplomat from 2009 to 2013. During his time at the State Department, Campbell made frequent visits to Asian allies and led Washington’s reshuffling of resources to focus on the Indo-Pacific, known as the Asia “pivot.”

After leaving the Obama administration, Campbell founded the Asia Group, a strategy firm that advises companies doing business in Asian markets. Campbell also sits on the board of directors of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a hawkish think tank he co-founded with Michele Flournoy in 2007.

Campbell is the former CEO of CNAS. The think tank advocates for US intervention around the globe and is funded by US weapons makers, major corporations, and various governments.

This week, Campbell co-authored a column for Foreign Affairs titled, “How America Can Shore Up Asian Order.” The article calls for the US to deter “Chinese adventurism.” The authors argue that the US should move away from expensive and vulnerable military equipment like aircraft carriers and focus more on smaller, inexpensive options.

“This means investing in long-range conventional cruise and ballistic missiles, unmanned carrier-based strike aircraft and underwater vehicles, guided-missile submarines, and high-speed strike weapons,” the piece reads.

The piece calls for the US to work with states in the Indo-Pacific to better allocate resources across the region: “Although Washington should maintain its forward presence, it also needs to work with other states to disperse US forces across Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.”

The Trump administration has accelerated the Asia “pivot” and laid the groundwork for Campbell and the Biden administration to form stronger security alliances in the region.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.