Col. John Kenkel
Colonel John Kenkel currently serves as the Army Attaché at the
United States Embassy in Israel. He previous served as the Director
of Training for the United States Security Coordinator, Jerusalem.
He enlisted in the United States Army in 1982, received a
commission as a Second Lieutenant in Military Intelligence in
1994, and became a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) specializing in
the Middle East and North Africa in 2003.
Colonel Kenkel served multiple tours in parachute units as a
Rifleman, Reconnaissance Scout, Battalion Assistant Intelligence
Officer, Intelligence Platoon Leader, and Company Executive
Officer. He was the US Army Southern European Task Force’s (Italy,
Greece, and Turkey) Soldier of the Year for 1984 and its top
Machine Gunner and Machine Gun Team Leader in 1985; he
represented the US to Pope John Paul II at the first International
Military Pilgrimage in Rome, in 1984.
Colonel Kenkel also served in multiple Special Forces units as a
Special Forces Communications Sergeant and as a Military Intelligence Officer in Italy, El Salvador, Korea, and the Philippines where he led the on-site US liaison team to the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the rescue of US hostages.
As a FAO, Colonel Kenkel served in US embassies in Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia; deployed to Kuwait and Iraq; and served in operational and strategic headquarters in the US Central Command and US Africa Command areas. While assigned to the US Africa Command Intelligence Directorate, J2, he stood-up and led the 180-person analytic team supporting US and NATO operations in Libya. From 2013-14 he served as the Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation at US Embassy-Tunis, Tunisia.
Colonel Kenkel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Geography-Cartography from the University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland, receiving both degrees Magna Cum Laude and earning admittance to numerous academic honor societies including Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Sigma Alpha. He earned a Masters in International Public Policy, specializing in the Middle East and Strategic Studies, from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC; during this time he also attended an intensive summer program at Damascus University, Damascus, Syria. For academic year 2014-15, Colonel Kenkel served as the United States Army War College Fellow at the International Counter-terrorism Institute, Herzliya, Israel. At various, separate times he has worked hard to achieve minimal linguistic proficiency in Arabic, Russian, Italian, French, and English; he is currently attempting to learn Hebrew.
Colonel Kenkel is married to Marka Peterson, a workers’ rights lawyer; she recently earned LL.M. International in International Human Rights Law at Tel Aviv University and is now volunteering at “Rabbis for Human Rights” in Jerusalem. When not overwhelmed by keeping up with their five-year-old son Noah Jethro, Ms. Peterson and Colonel Kenkel enjoy whitewater kayaking and other outdoor pursuits.
Army Attaché, Embassy of the United States to Israel
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