Navy Biography

Vice Admiral Colin J. Kilrain

Commander, NATO Special Operations Headquarters

Vice Admiral Colin J. Kilrain


Vice Adm. Colin Kilrain is a native of Quincy, Massachusetts. He was commissioned in 1985 and completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 1986. He is a graduate of Lehigh University and holds a Master of Science in National Resources Strategy and Management from the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School. He is also a graduate from the Defense Language Institute where he studied German and Spanish.

Kilrain’s operational assignments have included a full range of duties in Naval Special Warfare, Joint Special Operations Command as well as Personal Exchange Program with the German Navy Kampschwimmer Kompanie (SEALS) in Eckenförde, Germany. He commanded Naval Special Warfare Unit 4 in Puerto Rico; SEAL Team 4, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 in Virginia; and Special Operations Command, Pacific in Hawaii. His service overseas includes numerous deployments spanning across five continents in support of contingency and named operations.

His staff assignments include duty as operations officer for Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH) in Panama; operations officer for State Department's Office of Counterterrorism; Executive Office of the President at the White House, where he served on the National Security Council as director of strategy and policy for the Office of Combating Terrorism; and as senior defense officer at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico.

Kilrain began his current tour as commander, NATO Special Operations Headquarters in July 2016.

He is married with four children.


Updated: 10 May 2017