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Martel Memorial

Vol. 3 No. 1 | AY 2015 - 2016
FSR Remembers...

William C. Martel (1955-2015), an associate professor of international security studies at the Fletcher School, is remembered as a leading scholar in the foreign policy community, but equally as an unusually devoted teacher and caring individual who always put others before himself. Martel’s books include Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice: The Need for an Effective American Foreign Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Strategy (Cambridge University Press, 2011). He was a frequent contributor to print and broadcast media on international security issues and was active in national and New Hampshire politics. He served as a senior foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney during his 2012 presidential campaign. Martel was also the principal investigator in joint Fletcher School-MIT Lincoln Laboratory studies that formulated cyber codes of conduct and outer space rules of engagement. A 2013 Boston Globe profile of Martel described him as “among a handful of scholars and military experts trying to solve one of the most nettlesome problems in modern foreign policy: coming up with a new definition of ‘victory’ that matches the complexity of our conflicts.” Martel was chosen by the Fletcher student body to receive the James Paddock Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Fletcher commencement ceremony in May 2014. Fletcher School Dean Admiral James Stavridis stressed that Martel’s contribution to the spirit of the Fletcher community cannot be underestimated. “Bill personified what the Fletcher School is all about,” Stavridis said in a letter to the Fletcher School community. Martel served three years as chair of Fletcher’s admissions committee. After graduating from St. Anselm College, Martel earned a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Prior to joining the Fletcher School faculty in 2005, Martel was professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College. He also worked at RAND Corp. in Washington, D.C., and served as an adviser to the National Security Council, a consultant to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Air Force. He was the founder and director of the U.S. Air Force’s Center for Strategy and Technology. Martel is the son of the late Cyprien Martel. He is survived by his wife, Dianne; his children, William Cyprien Martel Jr. and Catherine Martel of Washington, D.C.; and his mother, a sister and two brothers. 




“Fletcher could use a heck of a lot more Bill Martels.”



Laurie A. Hurley, Director, Office of Admissions & Financial Aid

Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Professor Martel would readily describe him as a very nice guy and a friend to all.  He would literally go out of his way to offer his assistance to a student, colleague or stranger.  First and foremost, Professor Martel was enthusiastic about his teaching and his students.  Students were as captivated by his lectures and research as they were by his daily reports of skiing conditions in Maine. He would move around Fletcher with a bounce in his step, a big smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes.  He was both a giver and recipient of warmth and respect in all circles. The Fletcher School Admissions team was especially fortunate to have worked with Bill Martel.  He served as the Faculty Chair of the Committee on Admissions for three wonderful years, allowing us to experience his true thoughtfulness as a person and decision maker.  He always created an inclusive and positive environment for discussion and decision making.  Bill truly valued the collaborative process and encouraged participation from everyone around the table, especially the student members of the committee.  For each committee meeting he was tasked with reading several applications and arriving with notes and a tentative decision.  He would carefully read and make notes on each and every application; however, he would often come to the meeting without making a decision.  Bill sincerely preferred to listen and engage in the conversation first before making a final judgment.  He absolutely loved it when the group was getting close to making a decision, only to be led in the opposite direction by a last minute comment by a committee member.  He relished these special moments.  After exhausting five-hour meetings, Professor Martel would leave the room with the same energy with which he entered.  He would often return to his office and quickly dash off an email to everyone on the committee thanking them for their hard work and participation, and he genuinely meant it. Jessica Daniels, Senior Associate Director of Admissions, summed it up best in an admissions office blog post: “Bill was a true friend to the admissions office, and we loved working with him.  The Fletcher faculty is loaded with nice people, but in any group of nice people, someone can still be the nicest.  Bill was the nicest.” In our day-to-day work, the Admissions team is often reminded of Professor Martel, especially when we are planning an Open House or discussing tricky cases during admissions committee meetings.  We will always keep him close in our hearts and minds.


Nora Moser McMillan, Registrar/Manager of Student Academic Programs, 1994-2015

Optimist is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Bill Martel. He possessed a joyful outlook in life. It was infectious and you could not help but smile and take on that optimism when in his presence. Even when things were not going well, he always sought out the positive.  Although he was a very accomplished scholar and teacher, this is the lesson that I will carry forward in my life.


Professor Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies

Each of us who was privileged to know Bill Martel can point to qualities that made him great; humility, kindness, service to others, optimism, magnanimity, good will, and serenity in the face of adversity. No matter how much you cared about Bill – and we all cared greatly about him – he cared even more about us. I observed this not only in my case, but also in Bill’s interaction with other colleagues and, above all, with the legions of students and others inside and beyond Fletcher whose lives Bill touched. This led him to go out of his way to help so many. He was never too busy to offer to take on a new assignment. He simply did not know how to say no. He took on new burdens to help you cope with yours. This magnificent quality framed Bill’s willingness to undertake far more than his share of tasks – from serving on and providing leadership on important committees, supervising Ph.D. dissertations, or taking his students on field trips to reinforce and go beyond his impressive classroom performance that won him a teaching excellence award. Bill was a scholar, and his devotion to his students, together with a broad range of academic interests reflected in teaching and publications, could hardly have been a better fit for Fletcher. Bill leaves us with many memories and a rich academic and personal legacy. Always the optimist, he enjoyed life to the fullest. His infectious enthusiasm and good cheer radiated through and beyond this building for many years and is greatly missed. We are all so much better for having known, worked with, and benefited from Bill’s manifold contributions. He will remain a role model for all who had the good fortune to know him here at Fletcher and beyond.


On Behalf of the Ginn Library Staff, Cyndi Rubino, Director of Information Services, Ginn Library/IT, and Ellen McDonald, Reference Librarian, Ginn Library

University libraries are places for scholarship, exploration and collaboration. It’s no wonder that the staff at Ginn Library all loved Bill Martel. In a world sometimes plagued by insecurities and egos, Bill approached each research and technology quest with humility, inquisitiveness and patience. He was always quick with a smile and never too proud to ask questions and seek assistance. His friendly, open demeanor was infectious… you couldn’t help but be your best, most generous and creative self when you were around him. After Bill’s diagnosis, he never missed a beat in using Skype to teach remotely from his hospital and home. Using technology and library services, Bill embraced new resources to support his scholarship and classes. Continuing to make himself available to students and colleagues, Bill made time to advise on capstones and mentor his many devoted students. He was always gracious and appreciative - even the smallest gestures were noticed. Never once complaining about the fickleness of technology, always patient with troubleshooting, Bill was the model of kindness and understanding. We will always remember Bill for his strength, courage, and optimism in the face of a heartless disease. But we will always be grateful for his everlasting lessons about quiet humility, generosity, and human kindness.



“A scholar, teacher, athlete, and — above all — a beloved husband and father — he is the embodiment of all that we treasure here at Fletcher.”



Gerard Sheehan, Executive Associate Dean

Bill and I chatted regularly in the corridors, in meetings, occasionally in my office, and quite often we seemed to meet and have our longest conversations in the Fletcher parking lot before each heading home. It was in the Fletcher parking lot that I learned about his political activities, his love for skiing (that he had ski jumped in high school!), all things New Hampshire, a bit about his family, and of course, we shared the weekly intrigue of Fletcher.  The sum of all these conversations was that, to me, Bill was the most preternaturally positive person I have ever met. He was relentlessly upbeat, able to put a positive twist on all development. Almost any conversation that might touch on my concerns ended with a genuine offer: “let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” And Bill did help often, not only me but many others at the School. In my case, it often revolved around events or speakers or funding, or other support for students. He never once turned down a request to step in and assist, and when he did take on a task, he really took it on; no need for follow up, no need for checking in. He simply did it, and with great good cheer - his classic two-punch of energy and enthusiasm. His kindness was on daily display. I am pretty certain that every conversation I ever had with Bill touched on how I was doing. And that of course is how he interacted with everyone. Bill, unequivocally, was well like by all. During his tenure review year, I had innumerable conversations with staff who were universally pulling for him….not only because he was considerate to all (though that surely was prominent in their thoughts) but because the tenure criteria that staff could observe, that is, service to the School, and great teaching and engagement with students, were clearly off the charts. Bill was appreciated by members of the Tufts community as well. I remember the manager of Tufts catering services telling me how deeply respected Bill was by the University’s catering staff as well as the staff of Mugar cafe, all of whom he knew by name. Really not surprising. Bill connected with everyone in the community. No one was ever faceless or nameless to Bill. In the end, leaving aside all his many scholarly and professional accomplishments, perhaps the best tribute is that Bill was just a genuinely good guy. No pretensions. No artifice. No ego. Kind. Caring. Helpful. Cooperative. Positive. Just a really good guy.


Professor Richard Shultz, Director, International Security Studies Program

Bill Martel is the model of what The Fletcher School should demand in its faculty and what its students certainly deserve. To borrow a term from Carl von Clausewitz, the Fletcher student body was Bill’s professional center of gravity, and teaching, mentoring, and launching them his core professional interest. At Fletcher there are faculty that embrace this aspect of their professional activities as the most important thing they do, and Bill was a charter member of that club. He was a real difference maker in the lives of a legion of students. Fletcher was his natural habitat, and Martel was a difference maker in a school that produces difference makers. No one could be more positive, more encouraging, and more concerned that “all’s well” with you than Bill. When he would pop into the doorway of my office and cheerfully ask me if “all was well” I knew there was nothing perfunctory in his question - he meant it! And when I sometimes would growl back at him, jokingly, “nooo, all is not well,” his first reaction was to take the bait and ask- “what can I do to help?” Bill was a wonderful friend and colleague, a treasure to Fletcher students, a scholar, and a thinker who influenced leaders. Bill lived by the adage “attitude is everything,” and he instilled it in others. It is captured in his often-repeated maxim to his students to “always have a positive attitude, even when facing the most difficult challenges in the future.” He would tell them, “being positive is an essential ingredient for achieving success in all things that are really important in life.” Fletcher could use a heck of a lot more Bill Martels.


Kathy Spagnoli, Grants/Staff Assistant

Although we worked together briefly, I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to meet Bill Martel. I have worked at Tufts for almost ten years and he was one of the most caring faculty members that I have met. His highest priority was his students, and he treated all faculty and staff with the utmost respect. I spoke with him often by phone during his treatment and his positive attitude and spirit amazed me. He was smart, passionate, worldly, but so down to earth at the same time. Fletcher was lucky to have him. He always made me smile, and I miss that.



“His friendly, open demeanor was infectious…you couldn’t help but be your best, most generous and creative self when you were around him.”


James Stavridis, Admiral, USN (Ret), Dean of The Fletcher School

Professor Martel was among the most brilliant scholars of modern security studies and particularly national strategy this nation has produced. His two books on the subject are literally on the desk of most senior military officers. As a former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, I often referred to his theories and scholarship on the appropriate uses of national power in keeping our country safe. He was also the best pure teacher at Fletcher, beloved by his students. Even while he was suffering with advanced cancer, he continued to teach his courses by Skype, further endearing himself to his students. He mentored a record number of graduate students on their capstone thesis projects, and led the annual skiing trip to the mountains of New Hampshire. When his death was announced at Fletcher, I walked through the corridors and saw many of our 600 graduate students in tears. His energy, enthusiasm, and courage in facing the disease that ultimately took his life were noteworthy and emblematic of a marvelous colleague whose memory will burn bright at this school for generations. He was awarded tenure in the final weeks of his life, and never was I happier than letting him know that he had attained that honor. A scholar, teacher, athlete, and –above all—a beloved husband and father—he is the embodiment of all that we treasure here at Fletcher.


Liz Wagoner, Associate Director, Office of Admissions & Financial Aid

I only knew Prof. Martel for a short time, but it sure was memorable! I was lucky enough to sit with him on the Admissions Committee for two years and always enjoyed chatting with him before and after the official meetings. He and I always had a special friendship as he grew up in Lewiston, where I went to college – so we’d talk all things Maine. We also had some great chats about New Hampshire, as I grew up near Bedford and have a deep appreciation for all things “603.” On the Admissions Committee he was also such a thoughtful and kind presence, always finding the good in every applicant. He was a true friend of Admissions, always happy to help whenever we needed something. Moreover, he saw us as peers and didn’t hesitate to ask us “what our gut was telling us,” which I always valued. He stood out amongst the other faculty here for his sense of humor, compassion and thoughtfulness, and was truly one of a kind. We miss him dearly and, to this day, we often remember his words of wisdom as we consider our Admissions cases.



Roadmap for a C...
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy continues to mourn the passing of William C. Martel, Associate Professor of International Security Studies, after his battle with cancer ended January 12th, 2015. Professor Martel had been repeatedly recognized by the Fletcher community for showing sincere devotion, kindness and caring towards his students. He has also been recognized for leading the charge to bring cybersecurity studies to the Fletcher School. His pioneering course on Foundations of International Cybersecurity broke the threshold on this critical subject at Fletcher, exposing many students, including myself, to it for the first time. FSR's commitment to promoting new ways of examining security challenges has led us to publish several pieces on cybersecurity, and I have been privileged to serve as editor for this most recent piece by Thomas McCarthy and Alison Russell. The authors, many in the Fletcher community, and myself are forever grateful for the impact Professor Martel had both professionally and personally on our lives, and it is with the utmost respect that we dedicate the following piece in his memory.
– Mark Duarte, Senior Policy Editor, Fletcher Security Review




"Policy makers also face the truly modern challenge of cyber warfare in the hands of non-state actors. Never before have non-state actors, groups, and movements possessed an instrument capable of inflicting such immense harm. One element of American grand strategy must consider how to deal with groups that could attack the physical and economic infrastructure of American society. Policy makers worry that cyber hackers from an extremist organization might be able to cut off U.S. electric power during the winter or hack into the safety controls of a nuclear reactor. The old grand strategy of containment has become passé in the face of modern foreign and domestic challenges represented by these new and unpredictable sources of disorder."[1] – Professor William C. Martel


Professor Martel, author of Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice: The Need for an Effective American Foreign Policy, offers three guiding principles for U.S. grand strategy: rebuilding domestic foundations of power; exercising American leadership to restrain sources of disorder that directly threaten U.S. vital interests; and forging both alliances and partnerships to confront the most pressing threats to global stability.[2] The last of Martel’s three principles foreshadows the three cyber security activities at the heart of the newly released U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Strategy.


The three activities around which the new U.S. DoD cyber strategy revolves are: Information sharing and interagency coordination; building bridges to the private sector; and building alliances, coalitions, and partnerships abroad.[3] These three coordinating and collaborating activities are the key to building relationships between actors influencing the development of the cyber domain, and are necessary to identify and counter threats. To advance global cyber security, the Cyber Strategy suggests the U.S. must “build and maintain robust international alliances and partnerships to deter shared threats and increase international security and stability.”[4] As part of this effort, the United States seeks to build security relationships to respond to shifts in the international environment, including sources of disorder. These relationships are built upon trust and cooperation of many actors with varied interests and objectives in cyberspace. Given the wide variety of actors and interests within the cyber domain, establishing relationships of trust based on a shared understanding of acceptable conduct, expected behavior, and governing principles represents a daunting challenge...


As a longer article, this piece will only be offered in PDF format for easier reading. Download the PDF to read more.

[1] William C. Martel, Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice : The Need for an Effective American Foreign Policy (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 350.

[2] Ibid.

[3] "U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Strategy,"  (U.S, Department of Defense April 2015), 3-4.

[4] Ibid.



Colonel Thomas McCarthy, PhD 


Colonel Thomas McCarthy, PhD, is a 2012 Fletcher graduate and the Commandant and Dean of the USAF’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Commissioned in 1990 from the Air Force Academy he is an active duty officer with world wide operational and strategy development experience. Prior to his current position, Colonel McCarthy served as Director for the USAF’s Center for Strategy and Technology conducting studies to identify key characteristics of the military operating environment 30 years in the future. The opinions expressed are Colonel McCarthy’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.

Alison Lawlor Russell, PhD 


Alison Lawlor Russell, PhD, is a 2012 Fletcher graduate and an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Merrimack College in N. Andover, MA. She has taught course on Cyber Security, International Politics, and American Foreign Policy, among others. Dr. Russell is also a non-resident Research Scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses, where her works includes cyber security, maritime strategy, critical maritime infrastructure protection, and global engagement strategy. Dr. Russell is author of the book Cyber Blockades, which was published by Georgetown University Press in 2014.

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