Michael Carns is employed as a Senior Fellow for the National Defense University in support of the Pinnacle, Capstone, and Keystone programs.
General Carns graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1959 as a member of its first class with a Bachelor of Science degree. Following pilot training, General Carns served as a Flight Instructor at Laredo AFB, Texas. In 1961, he was appointed Aide to the Commander, Air Reserve Records Center, Denver, Colorado, then Aide to the Commander, 4th Air Force Reserve Region, Randolph AFB, Texas, followed by duty as Air Operations Officer at the same base. Following graduation from Harvard University in 1967, with a masters degree in Business Administration, he was then assigned to the 476th Tactical Fighter Squadron, George AFB, California, then the 40th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Eglin AFB, Florida. In August 1968, he was assigned to the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, where he flew 200 combat missions in the F-4E. In 1969, he was assigned to Air Force headquarters as a Plans and Programs Officer, and later, as Aide to the Air Force Chief of Staff. This was followed by tours at Torrejon AB, Spain; SHAPE Headquarters, Belgium; and, RAF Bentwaters, England. Subsequent assignments included: command of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Myrtle Beach AFBSC; command of the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing, Nellis AFB, NV; Director of Operations, J-3, Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, later redesignated U.S.Central Command; and Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and, later, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Intelligence, HQ Pacific Air Forces, Hickam AFB, HI. In 1986, he took command of 13th Air Force, Clark Air Base, Philippines, and was assigned in 1987 as Deputy in Chief and Chief of Staff, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, HI. In 1989, he became Director of the Joint Staff, Washington, DC. In 1991, he became Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the position he held until retirement in 1994.
After retirement, General Carns served as the Managing Director of a small healthcare firm for one year (94-95), followed by over four years (until Feb 00) as Executive Director of a New York-based policy research firm specializing in Pacific Rim security, international capital flows and international energy demands.
General Carns is a member of the Board of Directors of: Rockwell Collins, Inc, Cedar Rapids, IA; Mykrolis Corporation, Billerica, MA; WebGen Systems, Boston, MA; Engineered Support Systems Inc, St Louis, MO., and Precision Remotes Inc, Richmond, CA. He holds appointments as: member, U S Comptroller General (GAO) Board of Advisors; Member, Department of Defense Science Board; Member, Board of Advisors, National Security Agency (NSA); Senior Fellow, National Defense University (NDU), Department of Defense; Member, National Geospatial Agency (NGA) Forum; Member, Threat Reduction Advisory Council, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA); Member, Board of Visitors, Air University; Chairman, Board of Visitors, Air Force Institute of Technology; Member, Defense Science Study Group, Institute for Defense Analysis; member, Board of Trustees, Monterey Institute of International Studies; and, member, Board of Trustees, Falcon Foundation, an educational foundation.
In his various capacities, General Carns maintains extensive international contacts with senior level government, university academic and business officials. In the past year, he has had several on-site dialogues with governmental and business leaders in China, Japan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Australia and India, with additional visits planned to Europe, the Pacific and the Middle East/Gulf in 2004.
General Carns has authored and published a number of articles on current issues, including such topics as the need to substantially alter the military acquisition process, the benefits of privatizing military logistics functions, the lagging role of the United States in space, the role of the military warfighter, the eroding effectiveness of US nuclear deterrence; the evolving role of military force, the evolving nature of deterrence, and most recently applying energy efficiency standards to weapons system effectiveness.