Chris Bassler

Senior Fellow

Dr. Chris Bassler is Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

He previously served as the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office (JPO), the Department of Defense’s largest acquisition enterprise, responsible for developing and acquiring the most advanced next-generation strike aircraft weapon system for the U.S. Air Force, Marines, Navy, and many allied nations. As the CSO, he directly supported the Program Executive Officer (PEO) and JPO senior leadership on the development and implementation of comprehensive efforts across the entire JPO enterprise, and lead the F-35 JPO’s teams for requirements analysis & integration; new capability assessments; technology strategy, planning, & integration; intelligence planning & analysis; and strategic planning & communications.

He also previously served as Deputy Director of the Office of the Senior National Representative (SNR), in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Directorate for Innovation, Technology Requirements, Test & Evaluation (OPNAV N94). In this role, he led the development of strategies and programs to enhance capabilities, capacities, integration, and interoperability with coalition allies and partners across the full spectrum of naval missions and all warfighting domains, for both bi-lateral and multi-lateral efforts. Prior to that assignment, Dr. Bassler served as the Director of the Naval Science & Technology Cooperation Program, at the Office of Naval Research (ONR). He led the development and strengthening of a portfolio of science, research, and technology development relationships with allies and foreign partners, in order to enhance future naval capabilities and missions. He oversaw the development and coordination of all international science and technology engagement by the Chief of Naval Research, the Executive Director of ONR, and the broader ONR leadership. 

Earlier in his career, Dr. Bassler held several positions at the U.S. Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD), leading research projects, design studies, and teams. His last assignment at NSWCCD was Team Leader for Future Surface Combatants in the Future Ship & Submarine Concepts Branch. He led studies related to ship concept design & development, technology development, and platform integration for sponsors including: Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), and ONR, receiving several awards for these efforts. In 2014, Dr. Bassler worked as a member of the technical staff on the U.S. Navy’s Small Surface Combatant Task Force. In his previous assignments, Dr. Bassler also led several collaborative S&T and R&D projects with allies and partners and served as a U.S. representative on several forums in NATO, in both the Science & Technology Organisation and the Naval Armaments Group. He has also served as a technical advisor to the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization. 

Dr. Bassler has received two Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Awards, from the U.S. Secretary of the Navy in 2014 and from the U.S. Chief of Naval Research in 2016. He received the 2014 American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) Solberg Award for Research, and the 2009 ASNE Rosenblatt Young Naval Engineer Award. He has published over 60 scientific papers and technical reports, and was awarded two U.S. Patents. 

Dr. Bassler holds a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, and an M.S. and B.S. in Ocean and Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech; a M.A. in Security Policy Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Asian Studies from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs; a Graduate Certificate in Systems Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School; and a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategy and Innovation from the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. He was a member of the Department of Defense Acquisition Professional Community. He is a 2017 graduate of the Navy Senior Leader Seminar (NSLS). Dr. Bassler was a 2017 Fellow of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Next Generation National Security Leaders Program, is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and an Eagle Scout.


Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering
Virginia Tech

M.S. in Ocean Engineering
Virginia Tech

B.S. in Ocean and Aerospace Engineering
Virginia Tech

M.A. in Security Policy Studies and Graduate Certificate in Asian Studies
George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs

Graduate Certificate in Systems Analysis
Naval Postgraduate School

Postgraduate Diploma in Strategy and Innovation
University of Oxford Saïd Business School