Andrew Exum

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Department of Defense photo of Andrew Exum

Andrew Exum is an American scholar of the Middle East, a former U.S. Army officer.[1] He was a part of General Stanley McChrystal's review of the American strategy in Afghanistan.[2]


After graduating from The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee (1996) and the University of Pennsylvania (2000), where he was a columnist for the Daily Pennsylvanian, a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, and a member of the Sphinx Senior Society, Exum, a U.S. Army officer, led a platoon of light infantry in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequently led a platoon of Army Rangers as a part of special operations task forces in Kuwait and Afghanistan with the rank of Captain. He was commissioned as an officer through the University of Pennsylvania's Army ROTC program, which he initially joined as a means of financing his education there. He graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and English Literature.[3] He is a veteran of Operation Anaconda. He earned a master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut. In 2006-2007, Exum was a Soref fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He was awarded a doctorate from the Department of War Studies, King's College London.[4]

Blake Hounshell of Foreign Policy calls Exum, “one of the sharpest Middle East analysts around.”[5]

While still on active duty, but “laid up with a non-combat knee injury,” Exum wrote his first book, This Man's Army: A Soldier's Story from the Front Lines of the War on Terrorism.[6][7]

On May 30, 2008, Exum revealed himself to be the founder of the blog Abu Muqawama (Arabic, أبوالمقاومة for "father or expert of the Resistance"). This blog, "dedicated to following issues related to contemporary insurgencies," was followed by many notable students and practitioners of counterinsurgency in the military, academia and the media. It has also been referred to as Small Wars Journal's "rogue cousin" partially due to the large overlap in topics and participants, and due to its ability to initiate discussion about topics that are not yet appropriate for the more professional forum. At the time of the revelation, Exum also announced he was leaving the blog to pursue his research.[8][9]

Exum became a Fellow of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).[1] He returned to the blog, now hosted at CNAS,[10] continuing to post under the pseudonym Abu Muqawama.[citation needed] He subsequently began posting under his own name.[citation needed]

Exum served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy in the US Government from 2015 to 2016.[11][12]


Exum has criticized several strategic elements of the War on Terror. In particular, he is critical of the U.S. government's reliance on private military corporations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as what he sees as the misuse of drones in eliminating terror targets.


  • This Man's Army: A Soldier's Story from the Front Lines of the War on Terrorism


  1. ^ a b Biography, Center for a New American Security, archived from the original on September 28, 2013, retrieved April 7, 2017 
  2. ^ Washington Independent on Stanley McChrystal's advisors Archived October 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ For Some Soldiers The War Never Ends - New York Times
  4. ^ » Andrew Exum Middle East Strategy at Harvard
  5. ^ What you need to know about Lebanon's latest car bomb | FP Passport
  6. ^ Gazette | Interview: Andrew Exum
  7. ^
  8. ^ abu muqawama: Thank You, and Goodbye
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-28. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-19. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  11. ^ "Contributing Editor's Biography". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  12. ^ Official Biography, U.S. Department of Defense, archived from the original on September 5, 2015, retrieved April 7, 2017 

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