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Steve Merkel
Chief Operating Officer & Retired U.S. Army Colonel
Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Steve Merkel serves as the chief operating officer of Barnes & Thornburg. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the firm and its 19 offices, including finance, information technology, human resources, marketing and facilities. Mr. Merkel works closely with firm leadership and the management committee to create new efficiencies and increase quality across the firm’s processes and programs.

A retired U.S. Army colonel, Mr. Merkel served a long and distinguished military career. He graduated with honors in his class from the United States Military Academy in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering and a commission as a field artillery officer.

After West Point, Mr. Merkel attended the Defense Language Institute in the Presidio of Monterey, California where he studied French before serving as a platoon leader with the 1st British Corps in Paderborn, Germany. Mr. Merkel commanded a field artillery battery and a headquarters company in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He then attended the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he earned a master’s degree in military science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Mr. Merkel commanded a field artillery battalion in Fort Stewart, Georgia and in Baghdad, Iraq where he is credited with rescuing seven hostages held by insurgents near Salman Pak, Iraq. Mr. Merkel went on to serve as a regimental tactical officer at the United States Military Academy before commanding a brigade for First Army in Camp Atterbury, Indiana. He earned a second master’s degree in international relations from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and went on to serve as chief of staff for First Army and deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan as the chief of staff for the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan. Upon his redeployment, Mr. Merkel served as the brigade tactical officer for the Corps of Cadets and the director of operations at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

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