Thomas Spoehr is an expert on national defense policy and strategy, and has testified before the U.S. Congress on defense strategy, budgets, military recruiting, and equipment modernization. Spoehr’s articles and commentary have been published widely in both civilian and military media and he is often called upon to provide expert commentary and analysis.
Spoehr served as the Director of the Heritage Foundation’s (a Washington DC-based think tank) Center for National Defense from October 2016 to September 2023 where he was responsible for supervising research on matters involving U.S. national defense. Prior to joining Heritage, Spoehr served for over 36 years in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of Lieutenant General, the first ever Chemical Corps officer to be promoted to that grade.
Military service included operational assignments ensuring Army and joint forces were proficient in countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). As one of the Army’s foremost uniformed experts in this area, Spoehr served as the Commandant of the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School.
Later in his Army career, Spoehr served in senior leadership positions in the Pentagon, responsible for charting the Army’s future year financial plans, developing equipment modernization strategies, and achieving business efficiencies and reform. Analysis and recommendations provided by Spoehr were used by the Secretary of the Army and other senior military leaders to reduce or eliminate military headquarters, reduce back-office costs, and streamline lengthy bureaucratic processes, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.
His operational experience includes service with combat units including the 82nd Airborne Division and the 1st Armored Division. Spoehr participated in Operation Urgent Fury (the invasion of Grenada) and in 2011 served as the Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Forces Iraq in Operation New Dawn, where he successfully oversaw the safe withdrawal of all U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq ahead of schedule, one of the most complex and logistically intensive operations attempted by the U.S. military.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, a Masters of Arts in Public Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, MO, and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA.
He and his wife, Cynthia, live in Alexandria, Virginia, where he enjoys kayaking, home repair, and hiking. They have two grown children, Catherine and Peter, and five grandchildren. Peter served in Afghanistan as an Stryker platoon leader.