John A. Nagl


Member - FPRI Board of Advisors

Senior Fellow - National Security Program

Research Areas:

Military, Warfare, Counterinsurgency (Afghanistan)

Dr. John Nagl is a Visiting Professor of National Security Studies at the U.S. Army War College. A retired Army officer, author, and strategist, he saw combat in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. was the inaugural Minerva Research Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, and previously taught at West Point and at Georgetown University. He serves on the Board of Advisors at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington DC think tank of which he was the second president from 2009 until 2012.   He served for eight years as the ninth Head of the Haverford School outside Philadelphia, leading an organization dedicated to the education and character development of boys and young men.

Dr. Nagl was a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Military Academy Class of 1988 who served as an armor officer in the Army for 20 years. His last military assignment was as commander of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor at Fort Riley, Kansas training Transition Teams that embedded with Iraqi and Afghan units. He led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom, earning the Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star medal. Dr. Nagl taught national security studies at West Point’s Department of Social Sciences and in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program and served as a Military Assistant to two Deputy Secretaries of Defense. He earned his Master of the Military Arts and Sciences Degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, where he received the George C. Marshall Award as the top graduate, and his doctorate from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Dr. Nagl is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and was on the writing team that produced the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. His book Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice was published by Penguin Press in October 2014. His writings have also been published in The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalForeign PolicyMilitary ReviewJoint Force QuarterlyArmed Forces Journal, and Democracy. He was profiled in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Magazine. Dr. Nagl has appeared on The News Hour with Jim LehrerNational Public RadioABC NewsAl Jazeera, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.