Christopher Ashley Ford

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Christopher Ashley Ford
Christopher Ashley Ford.jpg
Born1967 (age 50–51)
United States
OccupationLawyer, government official

Christopher Ashley Ford (born 1967) is an American lawyer and government official who currently serves as Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation. He was nominated to that position by President Donald Trump,[1] and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on December 21, 2017.[2] He previously served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Counterproliferation on the United States National Security Council staff, and as a senior U.S. State Department official in the George W. Bush Administration, working on issues of nuclear proliferation and arms control verification and compliance policy.[3]

A longtime Senate staffer before returning to the Executive Branch, Ford is a lawyer by training and served for years as an officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He also worked as a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. from late 2008 until early 2013, after which he returned to U.S. government service as Republican Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations and subsequently served with the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before joining the NSC staff.

Education and personal life[edit]

Ford received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1989, where he received the Hoopes, Firth, Detur, and Bonaparte prizes. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and received his doctorate in International Relations there in 1992. In 1995 he graduated from Yale Law School, where he received the Scharps and Emerson prizes.[4]

Ford served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve during 1994–2011, receiving an honorable discharge at the rank of Lieutenant Commander in December 2011. He was also ordained as a lay chaplain in the first graduating class of the chaplaincy program at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he studied with the Zen Master Joan Halifax, a dharma successor of Tetsugen Bernard Glassman in the Soto Zen Buddhist lineage of Taizan Maezumi. Ford is a practitioner of Japanese jiu-jitsu, a 3rd-degree black belt student of Grandmaster Dong Jin Kim in the Jigo Tensin-Ryu lineage (JTR Jujutsu); he is also a 2nd-degree black belt in Hapkido and a member of the Japanese martial arts organization Dai Nippon Butoku Kai with rank certified as Sandan (3rd-degree blackbelt) in jiu-jitsu. Ford has been a member of the Order of Saint John since 2007,[5] and in September 2017 was promoted by Elizabeth II of England to the rank of Commander in that order.[6]


Ford worked for a time at the law firm of Shea & Gardner in Washington, D.C. before serving briefly as Assistant Counsel to the Intelligence Oversight Board in 1996 and then joining the staff of the U.S. Senate’s investigation into campaign finance abuses run by Senator Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee) in 1997. During his subsequent service on several Senate staffs, he worked as national security advisor to Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), chief investigative counsel for the Governmental Affairs Committee, and staff director and chief counsel of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He joined the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) just after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, serving there under Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and then-Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), first as Minority Counsel and then as General Counsel.

Ford joined the U.S. State Department in 2003, as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in what was then the department’s Bureau of Verification and Compliance under Assistant Secretary of State Paula A. DeSutter, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. In December 2006, he was named U.S. Special Representative for Nuclear Non-proliferation, being placed in charge of U.S. diplomacy related to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and heading the United States delegations to the 2007 and 2008 NPT Preparatory Committee meetings. In August 2008, Ford left the Executive Branch to become a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, DC think tank founded in 1961 by nuclear strategist Herman Kahn. In March 2013, Ford became Republican Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, and moved to become Senior Counsel for National Security Policy at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs after the Republicans won the Senate majority in the 2014 mid-term elections; he subsequently became that committee's Chief Investigative Counsel. In late 2015, he became Chief Legislative Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations under its chairman, the Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, after which he joined the United States National Security Council staff in January 2017. He was nominated for his current position on November 2, 2017, favorably reported by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on December 5, 2017, confirmed by the Senate by voice vote on December 21, 2017,[7] and took office in January 2018.


Ford has written three books, one on Chinese views of the United States and Sino-American relations, (China Looks at the West: Identity, Global Ambitions, and the Future of Sino-American Relations), one on Chinese conceptions of global order and their impact upon modern international relations (The Mind of Empire: China’s History and Modern Foreign Relations), and a history of operational intelligence organization in the U.S. Navy (The Admiral’s Advantage: U.S. Navy Operational Intelligence in World War II and the Cold War). (The most recent of these books is the outgrowth of a study originally commissioned by Andrew Marshall at the Office of Net Assessment at the U.S. Department of Defense.) Ford has written numerous articles and papers on subjects including nonproliferation and arms control law and policy, international law, nuclear disarmament, nuclear weapons policy, Chinese strategic culture, counter-terrorism, intelligence issues, and comparative law, and he speaks frequently at professional conferences around the world. With the Israeli scholar Amichai Cohen, he also edited a book assessing international and domestic legal issues related to counter-terrorism a decade after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (Rethinking the Law of Armed Conflict in an Age of Terrorism).

Ford has also contributed to the New Paradigms Forum website, where he published dozens of essays on a wide range of subjects.[8] He is a member of Chatham House (a.k.a. the Royal Institute for International Affairs), the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Council on Foreign Relations.


  1. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts". The White House. October 31, 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "PN1204 — Christopher Ashley Ford — Department of State". U.S. Congress. December 21, 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  3. ^ Rogin, Josh (January 25, 2017). "Trump team narrowing search for State Department's No. 2 official". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Christopher Ford". POSSE: Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation. Georgia Institute of Technology. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  5. ^ "London Gazette (14 August 2007)". UK Government. August 14, 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2018.Template:UK announcement
  6. ^ "London Gazette (21 September 2017)". UK Government. September 21, 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2018.Template:UK announcement
  7. ^ "PN1204 — Christopher Ashley Ford — Department of State". United States Congress. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  8. ^

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