Playing the role of Secretary of Defense
Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Member, Defense Policy Board
Former US Representative and Senator (R-MO)
Senator Jim Talent is a national security leader who specializes in issues related to the Department of Defense. He has been active in Missouri and national public policy for over 30 years.
Senator Talent’s public service began in 1984, when at the age of 28 he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, where he served for 8 years. In 1992, he was elected to the first of 4 terms in the US House of Representatives, where he represented Missouri’s Second Congressional District. He was the chairman of the House Small Business Committee from 1997 to 2001. Under his leadership, the Small Business Committee became one of the most prolific and bipartisan in the House of Representatives, passing numerous bills without a single dissenting vote.
In 2002, Missourians elected Talent to serve in the United States Senate, where he served on the Armed Services, Energy and Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committees.
Talent has been fighting for a strong national defense since he entered the House of Representatives in 1993. During his first term, he spoke out on the House floor against the cuts in the size and strength of the military in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War. He continued these efforts during his years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he was chairman of the Naval Power Subcommittee. His last speech in the Senate in 2006 was on the need to rebuild the force, which even then was too small, too stressed, and desperately in need of recapitalization.
Since leaving the Senate in 2007, Senator Talent has worked primarily in the field of national defense issues. In 2007, he joined the Heritage Foundation as a distinguished fellow, specializing in military affairs. He is currently a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and was the director of its National Security 2020 project at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. He is also a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
In 2008, Talent served as vice chairman, with former Senator Bob Graham of Florida, of the Commission on Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, and he co-authored the Commission Report focusing on the danger of bioterrorism. He and Senator Graham subsequently reorganized the Commission as a nonprofit organization and issued a comprehensive report on the state of America’s ability to recognize and respond to a biological pandemic or attack.
Senator Talent also served on the National Defense Panel in 2010 and 2014, is a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, co-chaired a Task Force on Pentagon personnel for the Bipartisan Policy Center, and was Governor Romney’s senior advisor on defense issues during his 2012 campaign for president. He is currently a member of the Defense Policy Board, a senior advisory council to the Secretary of Defense.
Senator Talent is a regular contributor to National Review Online and appears weekly on the Hugh Hewitt show to discuss issues relating to the military and national security.