News from NDU

News | Feb. 3, 2021

NDU Welcomes 17th President


National Defense University (NDU) today welcomed Lieutenant General Michael T. Plehn, USAF, as its 17th president. The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John E. Hyten, USAF, presided over the change of presidency ceremony in which responsibility transferred from Vice Admiral Frederick J. Roegge, USN, to General Plehn.

In discussing the unique strategic importance of "The Chairman’s University," General Hyten described NDU as "a pace-setter in producing the nation's best national security leaders," and credited the university with cultivating "a meeting ground for promising leaders from the United States government and those of our allied and partner nations to rectify contradictions, adapt assumptions, and fortify our collective national security interests."

"Professional Military Education is more important now than ever before," Hyten said. "I cannot overstate how vital NDU is to that education." 

VADM Roegge served as the 16th president of NDU for three and a half years, during which time the University successfully accomplished its mission to educate rising national security professionals to become the next generation of senior leaders across the military, government, and industry on whom our nation will depend. 

Reflecting on the University’s legacy and impact, Roegge said, "I have come to deeply appreciate the extent to which an investment in NDU is really a strategic investment in our nation's security." He noted that, while America has long-enjoyed technological superiority, technology alone is insufficient to deliver the warfighting advantage that our nation's security demands and our service members deserve. "It's imperative that NDU be able to create intellectual advantage," Roegge said.

General Plehn comes to NDU from his most recent assignment as the Military Deputy Commander of the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Florida. Through this ceremony, he accepts responsibility to lead the university in pursuing the Chairman’s vision that NDU will create strategic advantage by developing joint warfighters and other national security leaders, and by forging relationships through whole-of-nations and whole-of-government educational programs, research and engagement. 

"As a lifelong believer and beneficiary of the promise and power of education, this is truly a dream job -- to lead the Chairman's University," Plehn said. "As a former commander once said, 'We train for certainty, but we educate for uncertainty.' At NDU, our faculty and staff will remain focused on providing a world-class Joint Professional Military Education that will allow our students to prevail through future uncertainty."

NDU provides a hedge against uncertainty by developing leaders prepared to handle the Nation’s most difficult national security challenges in an increasingly unpredictable environment. History has shown that the best way to safeguard the Nation’s interests is by educating and developing leaders who are prepared to think critically, strategically, and creatively to produce innovative and holistic solutions.

As the premier institution for strategic leader development, NDU leverages a uniquely valuable combination of academic and research programs focused on national and international security, a diverse student body and faculty, partnerships across the security enterprise, and an advantageous location.

The Change of Presidency ceremony is archived for viewing via NDU's Livestream account at and via DVIDS at

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