Rear Adm. Steve Smith is from Brielle, New Jersey. He completed four years of Army ROTC and graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in 1964. Attending the University of Texas on a Navy ROTC scholarship, he graduated in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management. Smith has done graduate work toward a master's degree in world politics at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and holds a master's degree in national security affairs and strategic studies from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. His paper, "Naval Operations in the Third World" earned first honorable mention in the 1991 Naval War College annual essay competition.
Early assignments included USS Uhlmann (DD 687), Boat Support Unit 1/Coastal River Squadron 1, USS Dale (CG 19), USS Claude V. Ricketts (DDG 5) and the staff of Commander Destroyer Squadron 31. While assigned to Boat Support Unit 1 he served in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam with the Naval Special Warfare Group as a SEAL Team Boat Det. officer-in-charge.
Smith was executive officer of USS Horne (CG 30), and commanded USS Chandler (DDG 996). While in command of Chandler he was an Earnest Will convoy commander and Sector anti-air warfare commander in the Arabian Gulf during the height of the "Tanker Wars". He commanded the Aegis cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), home ported in Yokosuka, Japan from 1992 to 1994 and was the Anti-Air Warfare Commander for the USS Independence (CV 62) Battle Group. During his Command, Mobile Bay earned the Battle “E” Award and Commander U.S. 7th Fleet Anti-Air and Anti-Surface Warfare Awards. Mobile Bay was also awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation for putting out a large container ship fire on a U.S. merchant ship in the harbor of Pusan, Korea.
In shore assignments, Smith served as a lieutenant commander assignment officer, assistant captain assignment officer, head of Surface Warfare Officer Training and Professional Development on the staff of the deputy chief of naval operations (surface warfare), instructor at Tactical Training Group Pacific, assistant chief of staff for manpower and personnel (N-1) on the staff of the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, and executive assistant to the chief of naval personnel. He was the senior military assistant to the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and as flag officer served as assistant to the under secretary of defense for policy and assistant deputy chief of naval operations for plans, policy and operations (N3/5B). Smith assumed command of Amphibious Group 3 in January 1999.
Smith later served as the director for strategic planning and policy (J5) for the U.S. Pacific Command. Subsequently Smith served as the director of program appraisal for the secretary of the Navy prior to his retirement.
Smith has been awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal (two awards), Legions of Merit (four awards), Bronze Stars (two awards with Combat "V"), Meritorious Service Medals (two awards), Navy Commendation Medals (three awards), the Combat Action Ribbon, various Campaign/Service medals and unit awards.