Brigadier General Mark K. Wells

Brigadier General Mark K. Wells, USAF (retired) was Permanent Professor and Head of the Department of History, Dean of the Faculty, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado from February 2000 to February 2016. 

At the Academy he led a 31-person academic department teaching 48 different history courses to over 2,600 cadets annually. As Chairman of the Humanities Division, he represented four academic departments: English and Fine Arts, Foreign Languages, History, and Philosophy. 

The son of a career Air Force officer, General Wells is a 1975 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. He also holds an M.A. in History from Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. in War Studies from King’s College, University of London. Following pilot training he served in a variety of flying and leadership assignments in the Strategic Air Command and the Air Training Command. He was an aircraft commander in the KC-135 Stratotanker with the 92nd Air Refueling Squadron. Subsequently he spent more than 5 years flying the T-37 as an instructor pilot and later as a flight commander in Pilot Instructor Training. 

His teaching experiences included three years as an Assistant Professor of Military History at the Air Force Academy and two years part-time at the University of Maryland. Shortly after attending the Air Command and Staff College, he served two years as a Military Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, where he participated first-hand in NATO’s evolving strategy and conventional force structure changes. He graduated from the Army War College in 1993. Before assuming his Permanent Professor position, General Wells served as the Department of History’s Deputy Head and Senior Military Professor. He completed a 2-year sabbatical at the headquarters of U.S. European Command, in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2007 and one semester as a Visiting Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Army War College in 2013. Over more than two decades he was active as an Instructor Pilot with the 557th Flying Training Squadron and served more than 15 years as an Officer Representative for the football team and as the Academy’s Faculty Athletics Representative. 

His interests include NATO, military history, airpower, and the human dimension of combat. General Wells has authored several entries in encyclopedias. He has also published articles in a number of periodicals, including Military Review, Air and Space Power Journal, Living History, and Air Classics. General Wells’ first book, Courage and Air Warfare: The Allied Aircrew Experience in the Second World War, won the Society for Military History’s 1997 Distinguished Book Award. It was also selected twice for the Air Force Chief of Staff’s recommended reading list for all serving officers. He edited a second book, Airpower:  Promise and Reality, published in 2002, and subsequently assumed the senior editorial responsibilities for the Academy’s Military History Symposium series. The first book to be published under his leadership was Future Wars: Coalition Operations in Global Strategy. General Wells retired as a command pilot with over 3,200 flying hours in the KC-135, T-37, T-3, T-41, T-52 and T-53.  He is married to the former Donna Carol Johnson of Niceville, Florida.


1975    B.S., History, U.S. Air Force Academy, CO
1981    Distinguished Graduate, Squadron Officer’s School, Maxwell AFB, AL
1983    M.A., History, Texas Tech University
1987    Distinguished Graduate, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL
1991    Air War College, correspondence
1992    Ph.D. in War Studies, King’s College, University of London
1993    U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA


1. July 1975 – Aug 1976; Student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Craig AFB, AL
2. Aug 1976 – Jan 1977; Student KC-135 Combat Crew Training School, Castle AFB, CA
3. Feb 1977 – Dec 1979; Co-pilot and Aircraft Commander, 92nd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, WA
4. Jan 1980 – May 1982; Instructor Pilot, 35th Flying Training Squadron, Reese AFB, TX
5. May 1982 – May 1983; Chief, Learning Center Branch, 64th Student Squadron, Reese AFB, TX
6. June 1983 – June1986; Assistant Professor of History, USAF Academy, CO
7. July 1986 – July 1987; Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL
8. Aug 1987 – Aug 1988; Flight Commander, 559th Flying Training Squadron, Randolph AFB, TX
9. Aug 1988 – Aug 1989; Student, Ph.D. candidate, King’s College, University of London
10. Aug 1989 – Aug 1991; Military Asst., Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, SHAPE, Belgium
11. Aug 1991 – Aug 1992; Student, Ph.D. candidate, King’s College, University of London
12. Aug 1992 – Aug 1993; Student, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA
13. Aug 1993 – Feb 2000; Senior Military Professor and Deputy Head, Dept of History, USAFA
13. Feb 2000 – Jun 2005; Permanent Professor and Head, Dept of History, USAFA
14. Jun 2005 – Jun 2007; Special Assistant to the Director, J-5, U.S. European Command; Assistant Political Advisor to the Commander
15. Jun 2007 – July 2013; Permanent Professor and Head, Dept of History, Division Chair, Humanities Division, USAFA
16. Aug 2013 – Dec 2013; Visiting Professor, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA
17. Jan 2014 – Feb 2016; Permanent Professor and Head, Dept of History, Division Chair, Humanities Division, USAFA


Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal


Second Lieutenant June, 1975
First Lieutenant June, 1977
Captain June, 1979
Major November, 1986
Lieutenant Colonel April, 1990
Colonel  July, 1996
Brigadier General Feb, 2016

(Air Force Biography, Current as of Feb 2016)


Class Generals