Joseph Collins

Former University Professor, National War College, NDU

Collins, Joseph 120

Contact Information

Former Director of the Center for Complex Operations, National Defense University


Ph.D., Columbia University


Dr. Joseph J. Collins is completing 15 years of service at NDU as University Professor at the National War College. From July 2014 to June 2018, he was the Director of the Center for Complex Operations, a part of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. Prior to this assignment, he taught from 2004 to 2014 at the National War College.  From 2001-2004, Dr. Collins served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations, the Pentagon’s senior civilian official for peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and stabilization and reconstruction operations. His team led the stability operations effort in Afghanistan and created the Global Peace Operations Initiative, which President George W. Bush took to the 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit. From 1998-2001, he was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he did research on economic sanctions, military culture, and national security policy. In 1998, Dr. Collins retired from the U. S. Army as a Colonel after nearly 28 years of military service. His Army years were equally divided among infantry and armor assignments in the United States, South Korea, and Germany; teaching at West Point in the Department of Social Sciences; and a series of assignments in the Pentagon on the Army staff, in OSD Policy, and the Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dr. Collins has also taught as adjunct faculty in the graduate divisions of Columbia University and Georgetown University Strategic Studies Program. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and holds a doctorate in Political Science from Columbia University. A former contributing editor of the Armed Forces Journal, he wrote Understanding War in Afghanistan, published by National Defense University Press (NDU Press) in 2011.  He is an author in and the editor (with Richard Hooker) of Lessons Encountered: Learning from the Long War, a book on the strategic lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, commissioned by General Martin Dempsey, then Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.  It was published in fall of 2015 by NDU Press.