Rear Adm. Kent Whalen is a native of Michigan. He is a 1984 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He has a master’s degree from the U.S. Naval War College and in 2010 earned a master’s in engineering management from Old Dominion University.
Whalen’s operational flying tours include Attack Squadron (VA) 37 in the A-7E Corsair, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 in the F/A-18C as a department head, and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 as executive officer and then commanding officer. He graduated from Navy Nuclear Power Training and was executive officer on USS George Washington (CVN 73) before assuming command of USS Juneau (LPD 10) and then USS Denver (LPD 9) in Sasebo, Japan. Whalen was the commanding officer of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) from 2011 to 2014.
Whalen served ashore as an instructor pilot in Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, was an intelligence watch officer in the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)/Space Command (SPACECOM) and served as the Commander Naval Air Forces Pacific Assistant chief of staff for Readiness (N40). He was most recently the assistant chief of staff for Operations (J3) at NATO’s Joint Force Command, Naples, Italy.
Whalen assumed command of Carrier Strike Group 12 Sept. 1, 2016.
His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.