Rear Adm. Cooper is a native of Montgomery, Alabama and the son of a career Army officer. He is a 1989 graduate of the U.S Naval Academy and has earned a Master’s in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University. He has also studied national security policy and international relations at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
At sea, Cooper served onboard USS Thomas S. Gates (CG 51), the Cruiser-Destroyer Group 8 staff embarked onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Anzio (CG 68) and USS Vicksburg (CG 69). He commanded USS Russell (DDG 59) and USS Gettysburg (CG 64). He has deployed nine times and participated in 13 operations around the world.
Ashore, he served in the Executive Office of the President of the United States as the first executive director of the White House Joining Forces initiative. Cooper also served as the director, Surface Warfare Career Management Division (Pers-41); senior military assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel/Readiness); special assistant and legislative liaison to commander, U.S. Africa Command; executive assistant to the Afghan Minister of the Interior and branch chief for strategic reform while assigned to commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan; and flag aide to commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
As a flag officer, he served as commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea and commander, Naval Component, U.S. Forces Korea/United Nations Command. He most recently served as commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7 and commander, Task Force 76, based in Okinawa, Japan. During this tour, he led the U.S. military’s first F-35 operational deployment.
Cooper is the recipient of more than 40 personal and unit-level awards, including the Defense Superior Service Medal (two awards), Legion of Merit (four awards), Bronze Star Medal, Cheon-Su Medal for National Security from the Republic of Korea and Japan Defense Cooperation Medal. He is a recipient of the Admiral Elmo Zumwalt award for visionary leadership. While in command of USS Gettysburg, his amazing crew was recognized with the Battenberg Cup as the best ship, submarine or aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet.