Rear Adm. Harris is a native of Washington D.C. He is a 1981 graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. His early sea assignments include tours aboard USS Long Beach (CGN 9), USS Vincennes (CG 49), USS Jarrett (FFG 33), USS Coronado (AGF 11), and as commissioning executive officer in USS Benfold (DDG 65). He commanded USS Comstock (LSD 45) during Operation Enduring Freedom and Amphibious Squadron 4/Iwo Jima Strike Group during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief - Hurricanes Katrina/Rita in 2005 and non-combative evacuation operation of Lebanon in 2006.
Ashore, Harris' assignments include tours in the Washington-area at the Institute for National Strategic Studies in the National Defense University; the Navy staff in the Assessment Division (OPNAV N81) Campaign Analysis, Modeling and Simulation branch; and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J-5) Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate as the Global Security Affairs Division chief for Security Assistance. He was a senior fellow in the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group (SSG XXVI). In May 2008, Harris returned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as the deputy director, Expeditionary Warfare Division (OPNAV N85B). He was assigned as the commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 5 from 2009 to 2010 providing Foreign Disaster Relief during the Pakistan Floods of 2010. Harris then served on the Chief of Naval Operations staff as the director, Navy Irregular Warfare Office/Future Concepts from 2010 to 2012. Harris’ most previous assignment was as Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet. He now serves as Vice Director for Operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Harris earned a Master of Science degree in Operations Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1989 and is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in Defense and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras, India's Defense Services Staff College in Tamilnadu, India.
Harris' decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various other unit and campaign awards.