An Infantry Officer for over 21 years, LTC Zanella earned his commission from the United States Military Academy, West Point, in 1999. His was first assigned as a Mechanized Platoon Leader and Heavy Mortar Platoon Leader with 1st Battalion, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment, Friedberg, Germany. LTC Zanella deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom from May until November of 2003 as the Heavy Mortar Platoon Leader. Upon redeployment, he trained newly commissioned infantry platoon leaders as a Senior Platoon Trainer and Battalion Operations Officer with 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course. He took command of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in September 2006 and immediately deployed to Iraq. Stationed at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in East-Baghdad, Iraq; he led the company during 15 months of counterinsurgency operations from 08 October 2006 until 31 December 2007 as part of the Iraq Surge. After 22 months of company command, LTC Zanella served as a Maneuver Observer Trainer and Chief of Exercise Control for Operations Group Charlie, United States Army Mission Command Training Program, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. LTC Zanella deployed in June 2012 to Kabul, Afghanistan as a Joint Operations Planner for United States Forces – Afghanistan. As a planner with the J5 Plans and Policy Directorate, he worked national contingency plans with USCENTCOM, USEUCOM, the Joint Staff, and other CENTCOM Component Commands. Upon redeployment, LTC Zanella trained Ranger Students as the Battalion Operations Officer with the 4th Ranger Training Battalion, Fort Benning, GA from June 2013 until June 2014. Moving across post to the 199th Infantry Brigade (Leader Development), he served as the Brigade Operations Officer until June 2015 and the Brigade Deputy Commander until March 2016. LTC Zanella then moved over to the Infantry School and served as the Executive Officer to the Infantry Commandant until December 2016. He then served as the Director of Operations, G3, for the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, GA until June 2017. LTC Zanella commanded 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course from June 2017 until June 2019. Following command, he moved to Austin, TX to join Army Futures Command as the Deputy Director of Operations from July 2019 until July 2020. Currently, LTC Zanella is a War College Fellow at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
Lieutenant Colonel Zanella holds a Bachelor of Science in Military History from the United States Military Academy, a Master of Science in International Relations from Troy University, and a Masters of Military Art and Science in Theater Operations from the School of Advanced Military Studies.
Lieutenant Colonel Zanella’s military education includes the School of Advanced Military Studies; Command and General Staff College; Joint Operations Planner Course; Joint Firepower Course; the Infantry Officers’ Advanced and Basic Course; Infantry Mortar Leader’s Course; Bradley Fighting Vehicle Commander’s Course; Ranger School; Air Assault School; Airborne School; Army Combatives Instructor Levels I and II; the Army Instructor Trainers’ Course, and the Master Fitness Trainers Course.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3x OLC), Army Commendation Medal (3x OLC), Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award (1x OLC), National Defense Service Medal (w/ Star), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal (2x Campaign Stars), Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon (Numeral 3), NATO Service Medal (ISAF), Ranger Tab, Airborne Wings, Air Assault Wings, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency in Gold and Bronze.
Lieutenant Colonel Zanella is married to the former Heather Howell Bibb, and they have two sons; Clark and Grayson.