COL(R) Joseph S. Lahnstein ‘70

Colonel (R) Lahnstein was commissioned as an infantry officer at Syracuse University in 1970, and later became one of the initial members of the Special Forces Branch. COL Lahnstein initially served as a platoon leader and company executive officer in the 197th Infantry Brigade. He then served as Battalion S-4 with 1st Battalion 31st Infantry along the Demilitarized Zone in the Republic of Korea. Upon returning to the U.S., he joined the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), serving in a variety of B Team staff assignments and as Commander, Special Forces Operational Detachment A 232. Following attendance at the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, he served as Commander, B Company, 2d Battalion, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division in Germany. Upon completing successful command, he served as the Operations Officer, Wildflecken Training Area. Upon returning to the U.S., he served as Battalion Executive Officer, 3d Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

COL Lahnstein served as a Eurasian Foreign Area Officer for more than a dozen years. From 1987-1988, he served as Chief, Current Intelligence Branch, Headquarters, US Army Europe. From 1989-1992, he was the Chief, Russia / Eurasia Division, Joint Intelligence Center, U.S. European Command, from the fall of the Berlin Wall and Soviet Union through Operation PROVIDE HOPE. COL Lahnstein then became a ‘plank holder’ in the National HUMINT Requirements Tasking Center, Central Intelligence Agency, serving in that organization twice between 1992 and 2000. He also served as the Military Deputy Division Chief, Military and Special Programs Division, Directorate of Operations, Central Intelligence Agency, from 1998-1999. From 1996 to 1997, he was the Defense and Army Attaché to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In 2000, COL Lahnstein retired and joining the Department of State Office of Inspector General (OIG) as a Senior Intelligence Operations Specialist / Inspector conducting intelligence / law enforcement oversight inspections in numerous embassies worldwide and providing technical expertise to embassy officials on oversight responsibilities. COL Lahnstein has served as the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area Collection Manager in the Maritime Intelligence Fusion Center, Atlantic, since 2003. During his tenure, he supervised the successful introduction of automated conversion of Field Intelligence Reports to Intelligence Information Reports and the first-ever automated reporting evaluation tool within the USCG.

COL Lahnstein is an Army War College graduate, earned his Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School, his Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in International Relations, and successfully completed the Army’s Eurasian Foreign Area Officer program. From 1988-1989, he completed a year’s fellowship at Defense Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, researching the partisan war in the East during World War II. His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Department of State Superior Honor Award, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Department of State Meritorious Honor Award, the Department of State Franklin Awards, the Central Intelligence Agency Exceptional Performance Award, the Special Forces Tab, the Senior Parachutist Badge, and the Combat Swimmer Badge. COL Lahnstein and his wife, Karen, have two daughters.