Vice Adm. Harris was born in Japan, and reared in Tennessee and Florida. Following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 and designation as a naval flight officer, he was assigned to VP-44. His subsequent operational tours include tactical action officer aboard USS Saratoga (CV 60); operations officer in VP-4; three tours with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1 at Kami Seya, Japan; director of Operations for U.S. 5th Fleet at Manama, Bahrain; and director of Operations for U.S. Southern Command.
Harris commanded VP-46, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1; Joint Task Force-Guantanamo; the U.S. 6th Fleet; and, Striking and Support Forces NATO.
Harris has served in every geographic combatant command region, and participated in the following named Operations: Attain Document (Libya, 1986), Earnest Will (Kuwaiti reflagged tanker ops, 1987-88), Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector (Libya, 2011). For Odyssey Dawn, he served as the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC) afloat.
Harris’ postgraduate education includes Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, and Oxford University. He was an Admiral Arthur S. Moreau scholar and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Seminar 21 fellow.
Harris' staff assignments include aide to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan; special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and three tours on the Navy Staff, including deputy chief of Naval Operations for Communication Networks (OPNAV N6).
In October 2011, he was assigned as the assistant to the Chairman of the JCS. In this capacity, he serves as the Chairman’s direct representative to the Secretary of State. He is also the U.S. roadmap monitor for the Middle East Peace Process.
Harris has logged 4,400 flight hours, including over 400 combat hours, in maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. His personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards), Defense Superior Service Medal (3 awards), Legion of Merit (3 awards), the Bronze Star (2 awards), and the Air Medal (strike/flight). He is a recipient of the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award and the Navy League’s Stephen Decatur Award.