Ashley J. Tellis

Senior Associate
South Asia Program
Tellis is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace specializing in international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues.


PhD, MA, University of Chicago
MA, BA, University of Bombay 

Contact Information


Ashley J. Tellis is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace specializing in international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues. While on assignment to the U.S. Department of State as senior adviser to the under secretary of state for political affairs, he was intimately involved in negotiating the civil nuclear agreement with India.

Previously, he was commissioned into the Foreign Service and served as senior adviser to the ambassador at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. He also served on the National Security Council staff as special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia.

Prior to his government service, Tellis was senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and professor of policy analysis at the RAND Graduate School.

He is the author of India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture (RAND, 2001) and co-author of Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present, and Future (RAND, 2000). He is the research director of the Strategic Asia Program at the National Bureau of Asian Research and co-editor of the program’s eleven most recent annual volumes, including this year’s Strategic Asia 2014–15: U.S. Alliances and Partnerships at the Center of Global Power. In addition to numerous Carnegie and RAND reports, his academic publications have appeared in many edited volumes and journals, and he is frequently called to testify before Congress.

Tellis is a member of several professional organizations related to defense and international studies including the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the United States Naval Institute, and the Navy League of the United States.

  • Chinese sailors
    NPR’s Morning Edition May 20, 2015
    U.S. Should Take a Tougher Stand Towards China

    Is it time to think of China less as a trading partner and more as a threat?

  • Indian Statue
    NPR March 13, 2015
    India’s Prime Minister Makes A Swing Through Indian Ocean Nations

    Narendra Modi aims to deepen India’s strategic footprint. Meanwhile, China has been investing in the islands, raising concern in New Delhi that India is being challenged in its own backyard.

  • Background Briefing with Ian Masters January 28, 2015
    The Obama/ Modi Summit

    President Obama was the first American head of state to watch India’s Republic Day parade.

  • NPR’s Diane Rehm Show May 19, 2014
    India’s Election: Implications for the Country’s Future and the World Economy

    Narendra Modi will be sworn in this week as India’s new prime minister. His new government will face a number of critical challenges.

  • CNBC TV 18’s Think India Foundation April 21, 2014
    India Back on Track: An Agenda for Reform

    India has to make some hard choices in order to sustain growth over the long term. In making those choices, there is an important role for the state, but the state cannot be prioritized to the neglect of markets.

  • NPR's Talk of the Nation November 29, 2012
    Learning from the Cold War, Avoiding the Next One

    The global order has changed since the end of the Cold War, and with more nuclear-armed states than ever, it is time to adapt old tenets of nuclear deterrence for the 21st century.

  • Background Briefing with Ian Masters October 4, 2011
    India and Afghanistan's Strategic Agreement

    India and Afghanistan's new strategic security agreement may be aimed at persuading Pakistan to stop supporting forces fighting the Afghan government, but it not likely to be a precursor to Indian troops on Afghan soil.

  • Ashley J. Tellis
    C-SPAN November 24, 2009
    U.S. and India: Singh's Visit

    Prime Minister Singh's visit to Washington this week heralds a commitment to strengthening the relationship between India and the United States.

  • Ashley J. Tellis
    KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio November 16, 2009
    The Asia Questions

    The global economic crisis, the growing instability in Pakistan, and the Afghanistan War present several challenges to U.S. foreign policy in Asia.

  • C-SPAN's Washington Journal December 13, 2008
    Investigations into Mumbai

    The civilian government in Pakistan faces hard choices in its response to the Mumbai attacks. Action against the groups responsible for the violence will overturn traditional strategy that considers these groups national security ‘assets’ against India. There is also the danger of opening up another battle front for an army already conducting counter-terrorism operations on its western border.

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