Rear Admiral Watters is the son of World War II veterans; his father was career U.S. Army, Army Air Corps and Air Force and his mother was a member of the United Kingdom's Women's Royal Naval Service. He was commissioned in 1977 through the University of Nebraska Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program where he graduated with honors.
Watters' initial assignment was to USS Inchon (LPH 12) serving as OI division officer and repair officer. In 1981, he was ordered to Surface Warfare Officers School Command in Newport as a warfare instructor for the Division Officer Course. After receiving his Department Head School class "Top Gunner" award, Watters returned to sea duty in 1984 as combat systems officer for the new construction USS Hawes (FFG 53).
As a reservist, he led seven units including Selective Reserves (SELRES) coordinator USS Exploit (MSO 440), SELRES coordinator USS Clark (FFG 11), Mine Division 121, Naval Reserve (NR) Fleet Training Group Mayport-Det. 101, NR commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (COMUSKOREA)-Det 102, NR commander, Naval Surface Group MED-Det 105 and NR commander, 7th Fleet-Det. 111. Non-command assignments include deputy for Mission Effectiveness, Reserve Readiness Command (REDCOM) Mid-Atlantic; SELRES administrator, USS Valdez (FF 1096); and Naval Operations watch officer, NR COMUSKOREA-Det. 102.
While serving aboard Exploit, Watters was recalled to active duty in December 1990, for six months to serve as executive officer for Exploit crew's deployment (aboard USS Adroit (MSO 509)) to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Storm. Watters was again recalled to active duty in February 2003 for eleven months to the staff of commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as an operations planner; liaison officer to the Kuwaiti Navy; and liaison officer to commander, Joint Task Force (CJTF) 7 and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
Following selection for flag rank, Watters was assigned as deputy commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. In 2005, he concurrently performed extended active duty as deputy commander, Navy Region Northeast in support of the region's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) effort. From February 2008 to June 2010, Watters was the Reserve deputy and chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Fleet. He assumed his current assignment as chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Command on June 30, 2010.
Watters holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska in Business and a Master's of Business Administration from Bryant College.