National Defense University

Educating, Developing and Inspiring National Security Leaders

Michael S. Bell, Ph.D. (Colonel, USA, Ret.)

Chancellor, CISA

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Michael S. Bell, Ph.D. (COL, USA Ret.)
 Chancellor, College of International Security Affairs

Michael S. Bell, Ph.D. (COL, USA Ret.) Chancellor, College of International Security Affairs (Photo by Katie Lewis)


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Michael S. Bell, Ph.D., is the Chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs (CISA). Prior to leading CISA, he was the Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs at the National War College during the 2009-2010 academic year.

Following graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1983 and commissioning as an armor officer, Bell served with armor, cavalry, and mechanized infantry units in a variety of Army command and staff positions in Europe, the continental United States, and Southwest Asia. He also served on the faculty at the United States Military Academy as an instructor and assistant professor of history, where he received the department’s teaching excellence award. Other noteworthy assignments include Aide de Camp to the Commanding General, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm; Special Assistant to the Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe/Peace Stabilization Force; and Futures Chief, III Corps. From 2001-2003, Bell commanded the 1st Battalion, 8th U.S. Cavalry, an element of the 1st Cavalry Division.

Following battalion command, Bell was assigned as strategist in the Joint Staff's Strategy Division, Directorate of Strategic Plans and Policy (J5). In J5, one of Bell’s major projects included the development of the 2004 National Military Strategy and 2005 National Defense Strategy. He was also the lead writer of the 2005 National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism; the staff lead for the Joint Strategic Planning System; a member of the Kuwait Strategic Review team; the lead writer for Kuwait’s National Security and Defense Strategy; and the lead writer for the National Military Strategy of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces. During the Quadrennial Defense Review, Bell analyzed Defense reform roles, missions, and organizations.

In 2006 and 2007, Bell served as the Senior Military Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS). His research at INSS included developing future strategic concepts, ranging from space power to irregular warfare; assisting the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff with the development of strategic plans for possible contingencies; preparing a draft National Military Strategy; and analyzing previous strategic planning efforts in the United States military. Bell also participated in an Interagency Working Group studying the options for the strategic framework with Iraq upon the conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Prior to rejoining the National Defense University in September 2009, Bell served with General David Petraeus as the Director of his Commander’s Initiatives Group at Multi-National Force-Iraq headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, and subsequently at U.S. Central Command headquarters.

Bell holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Maryland at College Park. His dissertation examined the worldview of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his administration’s approach to World War II in Europe. Bell also holds an M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University. He was a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, where he completed an award-winning research fellowship on General John J. Pershing and the development of the American General Staff. He also authored a monograph published by the Strategic Studies Institute, The Exigencies of Global, Integrated Warfare: The Evolving Role of the CJCS and His Dedicated Staff. Bell retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel in 2012 with over 29 years of active service, and his awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star, the combat action badge, and the parachutist badge.

Bell retired from active military service in August 2012.