About the Headmaster

Dr. John Nagl is the Ninth Headmaster of The Haverford School. Prior to assuming responsibility for the School in July 2013, he was the inaugural Minerva Research Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. Dr. Nagl was previously the President of the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C., and remains on the CNAS Board of Advisors. He is also a Senior Fellow and member of the Board of Advisors at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.
In addition to teaching at Annapolis, Dr. Nagl taught national security studies at West Point’s Department of Social Sciences, earning the Earnest Bevin Fellowship, and in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. 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 master’s and doctoral degrees from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He was selected as the Alumnus of the Year of Creighton Preparatory High School in Omaha, Nebraska in 2012. 
Dr. Nagl is a member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a Visiting Professor in the War Studies Department at Kings College of London, and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and of the Council on Foreign Relations, which selected him as an International Affairs Fellow. Dr. Nagl has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to serve on the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel (the Hadley/Perry Commission). 
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. He led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm, earning a Bronze Star medal, and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom, earning the Combat Action Badge and another Bronze Star. He later served as a Military Assistant to two Deputy Secretaries of Defense. 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.
Dr. Nagl is the author of Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice, published by Penguin Press in October 2014, and of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. He was on the writing team that produced the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. He has also been published in The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalForeign PolicyMilitary ReviewJoint Force QuarterlyArmed Forces Journal, and Democracy. Dr. Nagl was profiled in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Magazine and has appeared on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, National Public Radio, ABC News, Al Jazeera, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Dr. Nagl is the proud father of Jack, who attends The Haverford School. He is also responsible for Maggie the black lab and Sparky the Jack Russell terrier, who sadly do not meet The School’s rigorous standards for academic achievement and discipline.

News, articles, and media featuring Ninth Headmaster John Nagl

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John A. Nagl, D.Phil. P'20


  • B.S., United States Military Academy
  • M.Phil., St. John's College, Oxford University
  • D.Phil., St. Antony's College, Oxford University
  • M.M.A.S., United States Army Command and General Staff College

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