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First Name: Michael

Last Name: Mullen

Birthplace: Hollywood, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Glenn

Date of Birth: 04 October 1946

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1968-2011
Michael Glenn Mullen

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1968

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Michael Glenn Mullen

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Michael Glenn Mullen was born on 4 October 1946 in Hollywood, CA, the son of a Hollywood press agent and his wife, who worked as an assistant to Jimmy Durante. He attended St. Charles Borromeo Church (North Hollywood) grade school, and graduated from Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks) in 1964. Mullen then attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, graduating in the lower third of his class in 1968.

As a junior officer, he served in various leadership positions aboard USS Collett (DD-730), USS Blandy (DD-943), USS Fox (CG-33) and USS Sterrett (CG-31). He has commanded three ships: the gasoline tanker USS Noxubee (AOG-56), the guided missile destroyer USS Goldsborough (DDG-20), and the guided missile cruiser USS Yorktown (CG-48); and has also commanded Cruiser-Destroyer Group Two and the George Washington Battle Group. Mullen's last command at sea was as Commander, U.S. Second Fleet/Commander, NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic (COMSTRIKFLTLANT).

In 1985, Mullen graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, with a Master of Science degree in Operations Research, and in 1991, he completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.

He was recognized by his peers in 1987 with the Vice Admiral Stockdale Leadership Award for his leadership skill. He is one of 53 naval officers to be recognized by this award since its inception in 1980.

Mullen served as Company Officer and Executive Assistant to the Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy. He also served in the Bureau of Naval Personnel as Director, Chief of Planning and Provisions, Surface Officer Distribution and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense on the staff of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation. On the Chief of Naval Operations' staff, Mullen served as Deputy Director and Director of Surface Warfare and as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Resources, Requirements, and Assessments (N8).

On 28 August 2003, Mullen was promoted to the four-star rank of Admiral and became the 32nd Vice Chief of Naval Operations; he served until October 2004. His next assignment was Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVEUR) and Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples (COMJFC Naples).

As Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Mullen had operational responsibility for NATO missions in the Balkans, Iraq, and the Mediterranean. As Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, he was responsible for providing overall command, operational control, and coordination of U.S. naval forces in the European Command area of responsibility. He assumed these duties on 8 October 2004 and was relieved of them upon becoming Chief of Naval Operations.

Chief of Naval Operations

In 2005, Mullen was named Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). On 29 October 2006, the Honolulu Advertiser published an op-ed by Mullen that defined the concept of the 1,000-ship navy. However Gary Roughead has rejected this scheme in favor of a more inclusive vision that includes non-governmental organizations and cooperation with non-allied countries.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

On 8 June 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced that he would advise President George W. Bush to nominate Mullen to succeed General Peter Pace as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Bush announced the nomination formally on 28 June 2007.

On 1 October 2007, Mullen was sworn in as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Upon taking office, Mullen became the first naval officer to hold the Chairman's position since Admiral William Crowe, who served as Chairman prior to the enactment of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986, and who was the immediate predecessor to Army General and later U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

On 18 March 2009, Gates recommended to President Barack Obama that Mullen be re-nominated for a second term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He began his second term on 1 October 2009.

On 2 February 2010, Mullen and Gates said that they fully support President Obama's decision to end the "Don't ask, don't tell" law, which prevents openly gay people from serving in the military. "It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do," Mullen said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. "No matter how I look at the issue…I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens…For me, it comes down to integrity - theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."


President Barack Obama nominated General Martin E. Dempsey as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Memorial Day in 2011. Dempsey replaced Admiral Mike Mullen, who retired when his term ended on 30 September 2011.

The president also nominated Navy Admiral James Winnefeld, Jr. as Dempsey's Vice Chairman and picked U.S. Army General Raymond Odierno to take over as Army Chief of Staff.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal (3 Awards)

Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards)

Defense Superior Service Medal

Legion of Merit (2 Awards)

Meritorious Service Medal

Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal

Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon

Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon

Navy "E" Ribbon with Wreathed Battle 'E' Device

Navy Expeditionary Medal

National Defense Service Medal (3 Awards)

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Vietnam Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Humanitarian Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star

Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Ribbon (Republic of Vietnam)

Civil Actions Unit Citation Ribbon (Republic of Vietnam)

NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia

National Order of Merit (Commander) (Republic of Chile)

Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Republic of Italy)

National Order of the Legion of Honour (French Republic)

Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia (Military Division)

Federal Cross of Merit (Federal Republic of Germany)


Surface Warfare Officer Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge


In 1987, Mullen was awarded the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership.


Mullen is married to Deborah and together they have two sons, LT John Stewart Mullen, and LT Michael Edward Mullen, who also both serve in the U.S. Navy.

2007 Senate Testimony Regarding the Iraq War

During Mullen's Senate confirmation hearings for his first term nomination as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mullen identified political progress in Iraq as a critical component of Iraq policy. He noted that, "there does not appear to be much political progress" in Iraq. He also said, "If [the Iraqis] aren't making progress in [the political] realm, the prospects for movement in a positive direction are not very good. Failure to achieve tangible progress toward [political] reconciliation requires a strategic reassessment." Mullen further told the Senate that the U.S. needs to "bring as much pressure on [Iraq's political leaders] as [the U.S.] possibly can."

Regarding the length and scope of the U.S. involvement in Iraq, Mullen told the Senate that while he does not envision permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, "vital interests in the region and in Iraq require a pragmatic, long-term commitment that will be measured in years, not months."

Speech to the JINSA on the 2008 Mumbai Attacks

On 8 December 2008, Mullen spoke to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) where he accepted JINSA's "Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award." During his speech, Mullen stated that the 2008 Mumbai attacks "crossed a new threshold" and that "Their level of tactical sophistication with GPS and Blackberrys and satellite phones matches only the indiscriminate nature of death and destruction they caused - and yet they intended far worse." He stated that "We are working to prevent November 26 from becoming a tipping point toward chaos in the region by confronting once again a common enemy." He also stated that "the images of two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg soon after his parents were mercilessly struck down in Chabad house should not ever leave us."

Views on Use of Military Force

In a speech at Kansas State University, Mullen outlined his views about the best application of military force in present times. He characterized most wars, such as World War II, as wars of attrition, where the reduction or elimination of enemy forces signaled victory. He characterized the Cold War as an issue of containment. In characterizing the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he described them as "a fight against a syndicate of Islamic extremists led by al-Qaeda and supported by a host of both state and non-state actors," citing the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan as their 'epicenter.'

Mullen outlined three principles about the 'proper use of modern military forces':

Military power should not be the last resort of the state: Mullen pointed to the readiness and capacity of military forces to respond to crises as reason to deploy them sooner, rather than later, in response. "We can, merely by our presence, help alter certain behavior."

Force should be applied in a precise and principled way: Mullen cites the sacrifice involved in deployment as requiring extreme care. Secondly, Mullen argues that "the battlefield isn't necessarily a field anymore. It's in the minds of the people." He cites General McChrystal's restriction of night raids as an example of this 2nd principle in action.

Policy and strategy should constantly engage with one another: Given that current engagements are open-ended, Mullen posits that military strategy must be more constantly engaged with policy. "...war has never been a set-piece affair. The enemy adapts to your strategy and you adapt to his." He cites the review process which led to the current Afghanistan escalation as a model of engagement between military leaders and policy makers.

Honoree ID: 606   Created by: MHOH




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