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Global War on Terror: A New American Security

Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl is one of the central thinkers behind the switch in the U.S. Army from fighting a conventional “tank-on-tank” war in Iraq to a counterinsurgency. He elaborated on this shift in strategy in an interview with Mother Jones: “It is almost impossible for an outside power to defeat an insurgency. What an outside power can do is enable local forces to defeat a locally developed insurgency.”

Now retired from the Army, Dr. John Nagl is a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. His last assignment was as commander of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor at Fort Riley, Kansas, training Transition Teams that embed with Iraqi and Afghan units. Nagl led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A Distinguished Graduate of West Point and a Rhodes Scholar, he earned his doctorate from Oxford University, taught national security studies at West Point, and served as a Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Nagl also earned a Master of the Military Arts and Sciences Degree from the Command and General Staff College, where he received the George C. Marshall Award. He is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam (2002) and was on the writing team that produced the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (2007). He was awarded the Combat Action Badge by General James Mattis, USMC.

John Nagl is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies, ROTC, and the Athenaeum.