Cathy Downes

Dr Cathy Downes profile picture

Senior Lecturer School of History, Philosophy, Political Science & International Relations


Teaching in 2019


  • BA Auckland, New Zealand
  • MA University of Lancaster, United Kingdom
  • PhD University of Lancaster, United Kingdom
  • U.S. Department of Defense, Chief Information Officer Certificate
  • U.S. Department of Defense, Advanced Management Diploma
  • Australian Department of Defence, Graduate, Industrial Mobilization Course.


Cathy Downes joined the Victoria University’s Centre for Strategic Studies in July 2018, after serving fifteen years as Professor of Strategy and Policy in the Washington D.C.-based U.S. National Defense University’s College of Information and Cyberspace. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a BA in Geography and Political Studies, and completed her MA in International Relations and Strategic Studies, and Doctorate at the United Kingdom’s University of Lancaster. Following a short period back in New Zealand, she was appointed as a John M. Olin Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs, followed up by post-doctoral research fellowships at the University of Melbourne, and Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. She then joined the New Zealand Defence Force, serving on the NZDF’s civil staff culminating as a senior executive working for successive Chiefs of the Defence Force on strategic and enterprise-level leadership, defence policy and management projects.

Dr Downe’s research and teaching focuses on security and defence studies of cyberspace, strategic leadership and thinking, disruptive innovation and emerging technologies of relevance to military forces and national and international security, and inter-agency collaboration in national security and disaster preparedness and response.

Current research projects

Dr. Downes’s current research is most directly related to exploring the vulnerabilities of contemporary Western democracies to known and emergent forms of cyber and information manipulation, espionage, assaults and warfare. Dr. Downes is also completing research on improving frameworks for understanding the components and processes for national security strategy formulation and an inter-agency capability maturity model to assist government agencies and other members of the inter-agency community to identify capability gaps that need to be addressed to achieve effective levels of inter-agency collaboration.


  • Joint Meritorious Unit Award, National Defense University, U.S. Department of Defense (2010, 2015).
  • Top 40 E-Learning Innovator, U.S. Center for Digital Education (2013).
  • 15-Year Federal Government Service Award (2018).
  • Award in the Category of Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Netcentric Operations, Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (2010).
  • National Defense University President’s Award for Group Achievement (2005, 2007).
  • Chief of Air Staff Commendation, Royal New Zealand Air Force, (1999).

Selected publications


  • Special Trust and Confidence – The Making of an Officer (London, Frank Cass & Co., 1990), 260pp.
  • Security and Defence – Pacific and Global Perspectives (with Desmond Ball (Eds.), (Sydney, George, Allen & Unwin, 1990), 484 pp.
  • Senior Officer Professional Development – Constant Study to Prepare (Canberra Paper on Strategy and Defence No. 55, 1989, Canberra, Australian National University), 155 pp.
  • High Personnel Turnover – The Australian Defence Force is Not a Limited Liability Company (Canberra Paper on Strategy and Defence, No. 44, 1988, Canberra, Australian National University), 120pp.

Selected articles

  • “Strategic Blind-Spots – Thinking Strategically about Cyber Threats, Vectors and Operations” Cyber Defense Review 2, 3, March 2018.
  • “Unintentional Militarism: Over-reliance on Military Methods and Mindsets in US National Security and its Consequences” Defense and Security Analysis Vol. 26, No. 4, December 2010, pp. 371-385.
  • “The Use of “Lessons Learned” Programs to Carry out Tacit Knowledge Transfer within Organizations: A Research Note” (co-authored with Robert A. Miller), International Journal of Culture and Knowledge Management Vol 4. 2005, pp. 817-823.
  • “Military Manpower: Strategic Asset, Liability or Non-Entity?” Defence Economics Vol .2, 1991.
  • “To Grasp the Wheel of Providence: The Officer Development Challenge of Managing Change” New Zealand Army Journal Special Edition 1989.
  • “Military Manpower Implications of High Personnel Turnover: The Australian Case” in Forum Internationales Munich, Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut der Bundeswehr, Vol. 10, 1989.
  • “A Man Under Authority: Issues of Officer Entry” Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies Vol. 131, No. 4, December 1986.
  • “To be or not to be a Profession: The Military Case” Defence Analysis Vol.1, No. 3, Sept. 1985.
  • “Educating for the Profession of Arms: USMA West Point and RMA Sandhurst” Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies Vol.126, No. 2, December 1981.

Selected book chapters

  • “Rethinking White House Cyber Leadership and National Cyber Organization” Entry in Hamby, Janice M., Thomas C. Wingfield, “Cyber Policy” Chapter 8, Hooker Jr., R.D. (Ed.) Charting a Course: Strategic Choices for a New Administration (Washington D.C. National Defense University Press, 2016, December)
  • “Rapidly Evolving Digitally-Enabled Learning Environments: Implications for Institutions, Educators and Students” in Ralph Doughty, Lin Wells II, Theodore C. Hailes (Eds.), Innovative Learning: A Key to National Security (U.S. Army Press, 2015), pp. 101-132, DOI:10.13140/RG.2.1.3755.9125.
  • “Transforming Praxis for Strategic Leader National Security Education” in Lin Well II, Theodore C. Hailes, and Michael C. Davies (Eds.), Changing Mindsets to Transform Security – Leader Development for an Unpredictable and Complex World (Washington D.C. National Defense University Press, 2013), pp. 351-370.
  • “Australian and New Zealand Armed Forces after the Cold War” in Charles Moskos, John Allen Williams, David R. Segal, (Eds.), The Postmodern Military – Armed Forces after the Cold War *New York, Oxford University Press, 2000).
  • “Reforming Defence Management: Lessons from the New Zealand Defence Force Experience” in Douglas Bland (Ed.), Issues in Defence Management (Toronto, Queen’s University Press, 1998).
  • “No Indefeasible Title to Marine Sovereignty”: Maritime Dimensions of New Zealand’s National Security” in Peter Couzens (Ed.), New Zealand’s Maritime Security (Victoria University of Wellington Press, Wellington 1997).
  • “Troop Contributors and the UN’s Capability for Rapid Reaction” in David Cox and Albert LeGault, (Eds.), UN Rapid Reaction Capabilities: Requirements and Prospects (Clementsport, Nova Scotia, Canadian Peacekeeping Press, 1995).
  • “Challenges for Smaller Nations in the New Era of UN Multinational Operations” in Hugh Smith (Ed.), Peacekeeping – Challenges for the Future (Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, 1993).
  • “The Advantages and Challenges of Closer Defence Relations: A New Zealand Perspective” in Robert A. Hall (Ed.), Australia-New Zealand: Closer Defence Relationships (Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, 1993).
  • “The Combat Exemption and Equal Opportunities: The Recalcitrant Non Sequitur of Women in the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces” in J. Hurni, (Eds.), Women in Armed Forces (Brugg, Switzerland, Verlag Effingehof AG, 1992).
  • “Comparative Perspectives – Great Britain” in Charles Moskos, Frank Woods (Eds.), The Military – More than Just a Job? (NY, Pergamon-Brassey’s International Defense Publishers, 1988).
  • “Trusty and Well-Beloved: Military-Society Relationships in Britain” in Martin Edmonds (Ed.), The Defence Equation: Policy, Planning and Performance of British Military Systems 1945-1985 (London, Pergamon-Brassey’s, 1986).

Selected conference papers and presentations

  • “Leveraging Cyber for Cyber Education” iFest Conference, U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, Alexandria, Virgina, August 2017.
  • “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work” Presentation to Cyber Beacon III Conference, Washington D.C. National Defense University, August 2016.
  • “Understanding Cyberspace as a Global Operating Domain” Presentation to the U.S. Army Chief of Staff Strategic Studies Group, Washington D.C. July 2015,
  • “Perspectives for Designing Strategies for National Security Outcomes in and through Cyberspace” Presentation to the U.S. Army Strategic Leadership Center conference on Cyber Sovereignty, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. June 2015.
  • “Three Critical Realities of Inter-Agency Collaboration for CIOs” U.S. Federal Chief Information Officer Council, Strategic Planning Committee, PlanningPlus Seminar, Washington D.C. 17 May 2012.
  • “Unintentional Militarism in U.S. National Security Policy and Operations: Reasons and Results” Paper presented at the “Mission Creep – Is U.S. Foreign Policy Being Militarized?” Conference, American University School of International Service, Washington D.C. 17 February 2012.
  • “Network Centric Process Concepts”, Lecture, Office of Force Transformation Short Course on Network Centric Warfare and Operations, National Defense University, Washington D.C. 12 Oct 2004.
  • “Leadership Challenges of RMA Technologies and their Familiar and New Battlespaces” Annual Conference of the Australian Defence College, Canberra, 10 May 2001.
  • “Seamless and in Sync: National and Coalition Strategies for Addressing Emerging and Transnational and Asymmetric Threats” Keynote Address to the 1st NZDF Joint Symposium, Wellington 13 May 2002.
  • “Revolutions in Military Affairs: What are they and what can we learn from Past, Present and Possible Future Revolutions?” Keynote Address 3rd Five-Power Defence Arrangements Professional Forum, Singapore, 30 Oct 2001.
  • “National Security Consequences of Globalisation” Australian Defence Regional Defence Seminar on Globalisation and the Military in East Asia Cypress Lakes, Australia 19 Nov 2000.
  • “Ethos-Directed Armed Forces for the 21st Century” to General Dennis Riemer, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Nov 1997.
  • “Troop Contributors and the UN’s Rapid Reaction Capability” Discussion Paper Canadian Government International Conference on a United Nations’ Rapid Reaction Capability, Montebello, Quebec, 8 April 1995.
  • “What It will Take: Strategic-Level Senior Officership for the 21st Century” Paper presented to the Canadian Forces Chief of the Defence Staff General Officer Seminar, Fort Frontenac, Ontario, 20 Jan 1995.
  • “New Zealand Strategic Policy: Cart Before the Horse?” Keynote Address, New Zealand Chief of Air Staff’s Exercise, RNZAF Base Wigram, 8 Aug 1990.
  • “The Challenges for Officer Development of Managing Change” Whitmore Lecture to the New Zealand Army, Trentham, 11 August 1989.


Teaching in 2019