Navy Flag Officer Biography

Rear Admiral John M. Kelly

Commander, Navy Warfare Development Command

Rear Admiral John M. Kelly Rear Admiral Kelly, a second-generation Naval Academy graduate, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in ocean engineering from Annapolis in 1973. Upon commissioning, he joined USS Joseph Strauss (DDG 16) on deployment in the western Pacific, serving as Main Propulsion Assistant and Navigator. He then attended the Naval Postgraduate School where he earned a master's degree in weapons systems technology.

In July 1979, Rear Adm. Kelly joined the commissioning crew of USS Thorn (DD 988) as Combat Systems Officer, deploying to the Mediterranean in 1981 and conducting operations in support of the Lebanese Missile Crisis and Gulf of Sidra Freedom of Navigation Operations. He returned to the western Pacific in January 1982, serving as weapons officer in USS Leahy (CG 16), participating in three carrier battle group operations off the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Following his third sea tour, Rear Adm. Kelly reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in September 1984 as the Surface Navy's Gunnery Officer, with subsequent responsibilities for Harpoon and Tomahawk missile systems. In January 1986, Rear Adm. Kelly reported as Executive Officer in USS Yorktown (CG 48). During this tour, Yorktown operated in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and extensively in the Gulf of Sidra, earning the coveted SIXTHFLT Tophand and Battle Efficiency Awards.

Following a tour on the staff of Commander, Surface Warfare Development Group as Director for Tactical Development, Rear Adm. Kelly reported to the Current Operations Directorate, Joint Chiefs of Staff (J3) as the conventional Tomahawk Officer and as Action Officer, European and Central Command branch from January 1989 to January 1991. During this period, he participated in the planning and execution of the Panama and Desert Shield operations, while concurrently serving as briefer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense during these operations.

In October 1991, Rear Adm. Kelly reported as the commissioning Commanding Officer of USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53). After supervising construction, he prepared John Paul Jones for her initial deployment, while concurrently conducting shock trials for the Arleigh Burke-class; the most successful on record.

Rear Adm. Kelly next joined the staff of the Director, Surface Warfare Division (N86) as Deputy Director, Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (N865). Rear Adm. Kelly then assumed command of USS Gettysburg (CG 64) in May 1996, and immediately deployed with the Enterprise Battle Group to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, including extensive Operation Southern Watch operations.

Rear Adm. Kelly then served as Chief of Staff, Commander, Second Fleet and Commander, Striking Fleet Atlantic until September 1999, including conducting Strong Resolve 98, the largest NATO exercise since the end of the Cold War, while preparing five battlegroups for forward deployment.

Rear Adm. Kelly then assumed duties as N765 (Director, Theater Air Warfare), and subsequently Deputy Director, Surface Warfare (N76B), responsible for all Surface Warfare Programs.

Rear Adm. Kelly assumed command of Cruiser-Destroyer Group Three/Abraham Lincoln Battle Group in July 2001, completing an historic ten month deployment including three combat operations: Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Southern Watch, and as CTF 50 in command of strike forces for four carrier battle groups, for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The airwings and Tomahawk equipped cruisers, destroyers, and submarines of CTF 50 compromised the largest strike group assembled since the Korean War.

Rear Adm. Kelly assumed command of the Navy Warfare Development Command in September 2003, responsible for Navy warfare development and innovation, and the integration of Navy capabilities with the joint force.
Updated: 31 May 2006