Ashley J. Tellis

Senior Associate
South Asia Program
tel +1 202 939 2394 fax +1 202 483 1840
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 twelve most recent annual volumes, including this year’s Strategic Asia 2015–16: Foundations of National 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.

  • May 12, 2016 Stanford, California 中文
    Inaugural Forum on Technology, Innovation, and International Affairs

    A discussion of the global geopolitical landscape, and the dramatic impact of technology and innovation as in shaping our world today and into the future.

  • April 13, 2016 Washington, DC
    Steering India Toward Growth

    Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley discussed what the NDA government has accomplished in its first two years and how it plans to steer India toward a sustained, high-growth trajectory.

  • April 11, 2016 Washington, DC
    Can India Ever Become a Great Power?

    While India’s rise is undeniable, its trajectory within the global order remains unclear. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for India to become a leading power represents a change in how the country’s top political leadership conceives of its role in international politics

  • January 14, 2016 Washington, DC
    Modernizing India’s Transportation Infrastructure for Sustained Growth

    India’s transportation infrastructure needs are enormous. After decades of underinvestment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has embarked on a concerted effort to upgrade all elements of India’s transportation networks.

  • November 12, 2015 Washington, DC
    Why India Is Not a Great Power (Yet)

    What are the deficits in India’s military capabilities and in the ‘software’ related to hard power, and how have these shortfalls prevented the country from achieving great-power status?

  • November 9, 2015 Washington, DC
    Afghanistan in 2015: Ripening Investment or Regressive Turns?

    Although President Barack Obama has extended U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, stability in the conflict-torn nation is elusive and close to one and a half decades of Afghan and international investment are at risk.

  • September 21, 2015 Washington, DC
    The Economic and Strategic Imperatives of Enhanced Bilateral Trade

    U.S. economic policy in India needs to be reconciled with its strategic policy in Asia.

  • September 21, 2015 Washington, DC
    U.S.-India Economic Ties: Ready for Takeoff?

    To initiate an exciting week of efforts between the United States and India to strengthen bilateral relations, Carnegie hosted a half-day conference to discuss the prospects for transformed economic ties between the two countries.

  • July 23, 2015 Washington, DC
    Strategic Stability in South Asia: A Bridge Too Far?

    The fragile security environment in South Asia is marked by territorial disputes, radical extremism, and nuclear weapons.

  • July 14, 2015 Washington, DC
    Defense and Security Partnership for a Stable Asia

    Both the United States and India have immense strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific and in Asia more broadly, and the U.S.-India security and defense partnership will be valuable in achieving both their national and mutual goals.

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