Adm. Clingan is a native of Indiana, but was raised in Washington state. He graduated from the University of Washington and holds a Master of Science from the University of Southern California. He received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program in June 1977.
Designated a naval aviator in May 1979, Clingan flew F-14 Tomcats with Fighter Squadron (VF) 124, VF-114, and VF-211, making deployments aboard USS America (CV 66), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), and USS Nimitz (CVN 68). He commanded VF-11, and after completing the nuclear power program, served as executive officer of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Subsequently, he commanded the 6th Fleet flagship USS LaSalle (AFG 3) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
Ashore, Clingan served as an F-14 flight instructor at VF-124, where he helped Naval Air Systems Command and Grumman Aerospace Corporation develop the F-14D Super Tomcat as a member of the Aircrew Systems Advisory Panel.
Clingan’s first joint assignment was in Europe, as a member of the Operations and Readiness Branch, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, where he helped negotiate various NATO/Spanish Coordination Agreements.
After selection to flag rank, Clingan joined United States Central Command, serving as deputy director of Operations from April 2002 to May 2004 during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Clingan assumed command of Carrier Strike Group 3/Carl Vinson Strike Group in June 2004 and served as Combined Task Force (CTF) 50/152 during an extended deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. Subsequently, he joined the staff of the chief of naval operations in September 2005 as deputy director, Air Warfare Division (N78B), followed by assignments as director, Air Warfare Division (N88) and director, Warfare Integration/Senior National Representative (N8F). Following his tour on the chief of naval operations staff, he assumed command of Allied Joint Command Lisbon and Striking and Support Forces NATO. Concurrently, he commanded the U.S. 6th Fleet and served as deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; and Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander, Europe. In December 2009, Clingan returned to the chief of naval operations' staff, serving as the deputy chief of naval operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5).
Clingan began his current tour of duty in February 2012 as commander, Allied Joint Force Command, Naples; commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa.
Clingan’s personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (two awards), Defense Superior Service Medal (two awards), the Legion of Merit (four awards), the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), and various service and campaign awards.