Lt. Gen. Michael T. Plehn is the 17th President of the National Defense University. As President of NDU, he oversees its five component colleges that offer graduate-level degrees and certifications in joint professional military education to more than 2,000 U.S. military officers, civilian government officials, international military officers and industry partners annually.
Lt. Gen. Plehn attended the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated from the Academy with Military Distinction and a degree in Astronautical Engineering in 1988. He has extensive experience in joint, interagency and special operations assignments. He is a master navigator with 2,200 flight hours and more than 350 combat hours supporting operations over Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq
1984 United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1988 Bachelor of Science in Astronautical Engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1995 Squadron Officer School, Distinguished Graduate, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
1997 Master of Aeronautical Science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla.
1999 Master of National Security Strategic Studies, College of Naval Command and Staff, Newport, R.I.
2000 Master of Airpower Art and Science, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2003 Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2005 National Defense Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.
2006 Joint and Combined Warfighting School, Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
2016 United Kingdom Pinnacle Course, Headquarters Joint Forces Command, Northwood, U.K.
2019 Pinnacle Course, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
2020 Leadership at the Peak, Center for Creative Leadership, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1. June 1988–July 1989, Student, Williams Air Force Base, Ariz.
2. July 1989–August 1990, Specialized Undergraduate Navigator Training, Mather AFB, Calif.
3. August 1990–November 1994, AC-130H Electronic Warfare Officer, later Instructor and Evaluator Electronic Warfare Officer and Flight Commander, 16th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
4. November 1994–May 1996, Wing EWO, 16th Operations Support Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
5. May 1996–July 1997, Executive Officer, 16th Operations Group, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
6. July 1997–July 1998, Aide-de-Camp to the Commander, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
7. August 1998–June 1999, Student, College of Naval Command and Staff, Newport, R.I.
8. July 1999–June 2000, Student, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
9. July 2000–February 2001, Team Chief, Aerospace Global Engagement, Directorate of Strategic Planning, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Arlington, Va.
10. February 2001–December 2001, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Speechwriter, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Arlington, Va.
11. December 2001–July 2002, Student, AC-130U Qualification Course, 19th Special Operations Squadron, later Assistant Operations Officer, 4th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
12. July 2002–June 2004, Commander, 19th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
13. July 2004–June 2005, National Defense Fellow, SDE Student, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.
14. July 2005–July 2006, Chief, Joint Interagency Coordination Group, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Patch Barracks, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany
15. July 2006–June 2007, Chief, Directed Studies, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Arlington, Va.
16. June 2007–July 2008, Commander, 27th Operations Group, later 27th Special Operations Group, Cannon AFB, N.M.
17. July 2008–June 2010, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Fellow, Arlington, Va.
18. June 2010–June 2011, Commander, 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
19. August 2011–August 2013, Deputy Director, Special Plans Working Group, Headquarters U.S. Central Command, MacDill AFB, Fla.
20. September 2013–January 2015, Principal Director for Middle East Policy, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, Arlington, Va.
21. January 2015–June 2017, Chief of Staff, Headquarters U.S. Southern Command, Doral, Fla.
22. June 2017–October 2018, Deputy Commander, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
23. October 2018–January 2021, Military Deputy Commander, Headquarters U.S. Southern Command, Doral, Fla.
24. February 2021–present, President, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
Rating: master navigator
Flight Hours: 2,200
Aircraft: AC-130H, AC-130U, U-28A, MQ-1B, MQ-9 and F-16D
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster
Gallant Unit Citation
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant June 1, 1988
First Lieutenant June 1, 1990
Captain June 1, 1992
Major Aug. 1, 1998
Lieutenant Colonel May 1, 2001
Colonel Aug. 1, 2005
Brigadier General July 22, 2011
Major General May 5, 2014
Lieutenant General Oct. 22, 2018
(Current as of February 2021)