Kyle Atwell is a nonresident senior fellow in the Forward Defense practice of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. 

Atwell is currently an active-duty US Army special forces officer serving as an instructor of international affairs in the social sciences department at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His operational experience includes over twenty months of combat in Afghanistan and assignments in North and West Africa, South Korea, and Germany. The majority of his military experience has focused on unconventional warfare, countering insurgencies, and building partner force capacity among US allies and partners around the world.

Atwell is also the founder and co-director of the Irregular Warfare Initiative, a joint venture between the Modern War Institute at West Point and the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project. The initiative provides a collaborative space to engage in professional and public discourse with the goal of bridging the gap between researchers, policymakers, and practitioners of irregular warfare. It began as the Irregular Warfare Podcast and continues to grow around three pillars: written and audio content, facilitating community engagements, and professional development and mentorship opportunities for irregular warfare professionals. 

Outside of the military, Atwell has held positions at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, at the US Mission to the United Nations, and in the California state legislature. Previously he was a fellow at the Princeton Center for International Security Studies and a Center for a New American Security Next Generation National Security Leaders Program fellow. Atwell was named a term member of the Council of Foreign Relations in 2021.

Atwell holds BA degrees in economics and international relations from the University of California at Davis, an MA in Public Affairs from Princeton University, and he is currently a PhD candidate with a focus in security studies at the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. His professional writing and academic research explores the role that irregular warfare, to include working with proxy and partner forces, will play in the future of both geopolitical competition and conflict.